The other day +Trey Ratcliff posted an article here on Google+ that suggested that if one does great work they will be discovered. I think this is an over simplification at best. It’s a myth that has been told over and over through out time. The suggestion that all one needs to do is great work to be discovered gives many the hope to carry on but for many it also suggests that the lack of discovery suggests one is not doing great work. I know TREY meant well as he’s great with promoting other photographers work, he even talked about some of the other steps in the process.
It’s his actions that touch on the other side of the discovery equation…promotion. Wether it’s self promotion (including networking) or some one else singing your praise, with out promotion your great work may never be seen.
In Trey’s video, he talks about how a painter (+Daniel Ibanez) reached out to him in a Hang Out and shared with him some photos of his paintings. Trey liked the work and shared it with his network, members of his network liked and then re-shared the work. Clearly people connected with the paintings (quality) but it was the promotion (artist to Trey, Trey to his network, his network to their networks, etc) that helped the Internet discover NAME.
Another great example of how both parts of the equation are needed. Recently there was a storage locker full of photos that was purchased during a lot sale. The buyer (John Maloof) digitized a few and then posted them online. The photos were great, and story went viral. They took off because they were great photos, but with out his discovery and promotion one of the largest collections of street photography would have been lost. Luckily for us this isn’t the case and we can now enjoy +Vivian Maier’s work both online and in galleries.
Even with the Internet there are thousands of photographers/writers/actors who are doing great work that will never be discovered/appreciated/noticed. This is true for every media, every art form and even in your 9-5. This doesn’t mean not to keep doing what you’re doing, but do it because you love it, not for the fame.
I think Trey would agree, the best advice is do what you love, do it as best you can, share what you’ve done and don’t be discouraged when the zeitgeist of serendipity passes you by. When you are discovered don’t forget all the hard work, promotion and people who helped you along the way.
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Trey Ratcliff’s original post:
The Internet will Discover You
Vivian Maier’s work