A lot of people ask me about my photos, “How did you do that?”
Well, truth be told, it isn’t a huge secret on how I, or any other working photographer, pulls off their images…
Ryan bought forth the term agalmics during our discussion. In a nutshell, agalmics is:
The study and practice of the production and allocation of non-scarce goods.
And yes, that was an excuse to show off the shiny blockquote tag here in Octopress. Which actually ties into what I’m talking about here.
The internet has made knowledge of most subjects a non-scarce resource. From the implementation of the blockquote tag here on my blog, to just how the heck I composed that image of Roger that leads off the article, to the basic techniques Roger uses to mix music together in his DJ sets, the transfer of knowledge has definitely become a non-scarce resource. It’s really not much of an exaggeration to say that the sum of human knowledge is online these days.
With a few exceptions, the directions on how to do just about anything have been documented online, and those directions are freely accessible. And if they are not freely accessible at first, some more searching will bring forth a free alternative on how to get something done. I mention that because some academic research is locked behind paywalls. However, similar research is often freely accessible, and the assiduous student can often come to the same conclusions the researchers hiding behind paywalls do.
But anyways, with regards to my photo work, I don’t mind freely passing on the knowledge, even if I paid for it a long time ago. If I’m stingy with the knowledge, the person asking for it, if they are determined enough, will seek it out on their own, and undoubtedly discover it elsewhere. Ryan put it bluntly:
An agalmic entrepreneur’s currency is his reputation.
My reputation (other than being a scandal!) tends to lie in the direction that I am in possession of a lot of knowledge, and I have no qualms about giving it away. It’s a currency that can be spent and earned just like money nowadays. And simply because people have faith that the knowledge will benefit them. Much like the US Dollar is only worth something because the world believes it is worth something. We’ve assigned value to it, and it is no longer based on the reserves of a scarce material, i.e. gold.
But unlike gold, knowledge and information are no longer scarce. It’s all out there, free for the taking. Even if you do not own your own computer or have your own internet connection, you can avail yourself of free resources to get online, and access the same information a guy on his iPad next to his pool on Star Island can.
So with that in mind, I tend to not object if someone sincerely asks how I manage to pull something off in the photographic realm. I get something out of it, myself, personally. I tend to be a miserable rat bastard about some things, like the political system, the popularity of dubstep, ravers, fluorescent lighting, BlackBerries, and American Idol. So I guess, subconsciously, to balance out that deficit in the karma bank, I kind of get a visceral thrill when I can pass on what I’ve learned. That, and when it comes to photo work at least, I can only pass on the parameters of what I’ve done, it’s up to the person I’m teaching to implement it at the right time. It’s like your parents can tell you how to drive a car, but eventually you have to get behind the wheel and do it yourself. And once you are behind the wheel, it’s a lot different than when Mom told you not to stomp on the accelerator.
And as far as someone using that knowledge against me? Well, I don’t see it as being used against me, since I really don’t play that game. If someone takes what I’ve showed them and apes my style, and gets more work than I do, that’s fine. Even if they don’t acknowledge where they learned it from. Recognition and attribution are nice and “proper internet etiquette”, but I don’t expect it these days. I figure it is something they have to live with. And I’m really not in the recognition game, either. If what I do helps a friend or a client do well, I usually get taken along for the ride. There’s a lot of things at play out in the world that are way more powerful than myself, and I figure it’s easier to just ride the wave and catch a ride, rather than try to take on those forces directly. Either way, I end up doing alright for myself.
With that in mind, I do plan on passing on little bits and pieces of what I know in this here blog, kind of as a way to balance out some of the more ornery aspects of it, and also just for the sake of composing my thoughts on “paper”. Sometimes it’ll be about photographic and video techniques I know, other times it’ll be about coding this here site, and maybe on occasion some bits and pieces on the fine art of Mercedes maintenance as I learn more about that.
I’m on a bit of a roll right now, let me kick off the first one. In the next post. Let’s keep this somewhat organized.