Anytime you’re creating something—photography, a painting, a book—it’s a question of audience. At least, for those of us who plan to show our creative works to others, which I have to imagine is most of us. While we are ultimately free to create whatever we’d like to create, we need to do it with the idea that someone out there will find some sort of enjoyment in it.
So what is it that people enjoy in art? Of course, you and I know that there is no answer to that question because it’s all so subjective. No matter what you create, someone in the world will enjoy it. We can only quantify the things that people generally don’t enjoy in art—and one of those things is how you got there.
The thing to remember about art, I think, is that it is the opposite of math class. The math teacher wants you to show your work because he or she wants to make sure that you’re not only arriving at the correct answer but that you are taking the correct path to get there. With art, there is no need to show your work. No one cares how you got there. The product is what is important. The planning, thought put into it, the equipment—in most cases, nobody is going to care about these things. Art isn’t like math class, but perhaps it is something like making dinner. People want to see the beautiful result, not the mess you made in the kitchen creating it.
So when it comes to presenting our art, what does this mean? It means that there is no need to go into a dissertation about the process you used to create it—not unless you are asked to. There is no need to post a photograph on a website with a list of gear that you used in the making of the image. If you’re marketing fine art photography, there is no need to clog up your blog with technical how-tos and tutorials on how you created the prints that you are selling.
That last thing—it’s something I often see both writers and photographers doing often. With writers, you’ll see a variety of things. If they’re bloggers or marketing writers, you’ll often find their own personal marketing blogs are full of tutorials about how to write a good blog, how to optimize search engine optimization, or how to write copy well. Fiction authors often go on at length about how to structure a story, how to bring characterization through, or other technical details. Photographers often do tutorials, as I mentioned already.
All of this? It boils down to marketers marketing to marketers. When you’re presenting your work to the world, you have to think about your audience and remember that most of them aren’t here to learn how to recreate what you’ve already created for them. Unless, of course, you’re famous—then everyone will want to emulate what you’ve done! But for most of us, most of our audiences are here to see what we’ve created—and possibly purchase it for themselves. Except in rare instances, your target market—your audience—isn’t going to be comprised entirely of fellow photographers interested in learning the how-tos.
When you put together blogs or other writings to go along with your images, it is far better to show your audience the more intangible things. If you must speak, then speak of the thoughts that go into your work or the philosophies that drive your art. Show your audience the learning, the attention to detail—the mind behind the art. These are the sorts of things that speak of someone who produces art that has meaning.
Ultimately, nobody cares what gear you’re using or the lengths you went to create a photograph—and as soon as this idea is ingrained in your mind, it leads to freedom. You won’t have to worry anymore about buying the latest and greatest cameras. There won’t be the shame that sometimes accompanies outdated equipment. At the end of the day, what matters is the result. How you got there is irrelevant.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.