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I Am Not A Creative

Someone once called me "a creative" and I wanted to punch them in the nose. It's a phrase on a short list of things that make me angry. The way I hear it, it's a way of saying "lesser person who is employed for their impractical, foolish tendencies, which are—regrettably—needed for projects they would be too 'pure' to hold in esteem."  Wow, I guess I'm reading a lot into this. I was at a commencement yesterday for teen photographers at a well-known photo school, and all the speakers conspicuously clung to the word "image-makers" any time a normal person would say "photographers." It was peppered into almost every sentence they spoke. I was seriously grossed out. It felt as if the faculty or administration had adopted a conscious policy of distancing themselves from the "photographers" label in order to make it seem like there's something much bigger going on, something more advanced and separate from the onslaught of photographs being taken by the growing field of amateurs, selfie-shooters, and hobbyists. What's revealed in this though is their hidden fear that maybe there isn't that much to photography, and that maybe there never was. Embedded in their overuse of this new term, "image-makers" is an aspiration to superiority, but superiority comes from realizing that terms are meaningless, and the only thing that counts is great work. I've seen other schools cling to calling photographers "storytellers," which is almost as annoying. In recent years the overvaluation of story has come to be crippling to photographs at best, and at worst causes painfully mediocre work to be championed for the story in the captions or the photographer's background. Neither situation helps the medium grow. Both imply that photographs by themselves are somehow inadequate without enhancement. This age of branding and shameless marketing feels terribly alien to me, and I hope the next generation after the current young one comes out swinging with flaming fists at the new culture of conformist narcissism.