everyone IS photogenic. [final update]
[ I hope that you can carve a moment to follow through this whole update at some point. But I know that you're busy, and that I've already made plenty of additions to the cyber-clutter in your inbox with this project. If you you're too busy to read this final update, scroll to the bottom for an invite along on the next phase of this adventure. ]
Dear beautiful humans,
This project didn't make it to its funding threshold.
I could do a lot of things with $38k.
I could do a lot of things with the support of all of you beautiful humans.
But not this particular project.
But do we need me to execute this particular project to "prove" that everyone is photogenic?
Just look around, and *know* it.
What have we accomplished?
We've started a larger conversation around our use of this word "photogenic", one that will continue long past today's deadline.
Next time that you run into someone that claims that they're "not photogenic", you can direct them to the manifesto at EveryoneIsPhotogenic.com, or better yet, take a moment to explain it to them yourself.
We've also built a small army of supporters who believe in this dream of mine.
I'd love to have you along for the ride into the unknown of what comes next...
Where do we go from here?
There's a couple of big choices that I have to make in the road ahead, and some of my choices may depend on whether you guys decide to come along for the ride into the unknown with me past the end of this campaign...
Other pictures not taken:
He'd seen the images that I'd recently made of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' March for Rights, Respect, & Fair Food, and thought that it could be equally powerful for me to photograph this march.
I knew he was right. And I so wanted to do it. And had it been five years ago, I probably would have.
But I also knew that doing too much of this kind of work on my own would put me back on the same road to burn out that I've traveled before.
Does this look familiar?
I think that it's something that many of us feel in our choices, and it's something that I've felt particularly strongly when it comes to making media.
Photography has been both my livelihood and profession, and is also one of my most powerful tools for community service and activism.
The problem is that the usual ways of working as a professional photographer are diametrically opposed to the ways that I want to serve my community.
From a photography business perspective, the gas drilling company is a far better client than the beautiful humans organizing against them...
... much like it would probably make more economic sense to photograph for the casino industry than for these beautiful humans.
Just like the media market doesn't value the technicians working backstage...
... it also makes it a far better gig to be photographing the grocery store chain's annual report than it does to photograph this beautiful crew. (just from a business standpoint)
Let's not forget the military-industrial complex, which is just as dangerous as the beauty-industrial complex. But as someone doing photography for a living, the market forces dictate that I should probably not be shooting for these guys...
... and that following the priorities set by the mainstream media empires would probably be better for my business than trying to support the creation of alternative voices...
... but each and every time, the choice has seemed pretty obvious.
The solution is a rotation:
For a long time, I tried to single-handedly fight the forces of the mainstream media market. That's a loosing battle, which led to a lot of frustration. I think that I was doing the right thing, but not quite in the right way.
Seeing my imagemaking choices as a single-dimension "sell out" vs "burn out" is a pretty one-dimensional way of thinking of things. It all started to make more sense to me when I shifted the axes around and started to think of these challenges in a different way:
I'd been worrying about where I was between A & B, but really the answer was to set my sights on D.
Tools like Kickstarter are part of that solution for me, but I can't very well do a kickstarter campaign every single time that I want to support a small arts organization or social justice cause.
That's part of why I decided to take my vision big, essentially trying to create for myself a photographic 'day job' that would compliment rather than counter my vision for photography that serves my community.
Essentially, I've been trying to get back to the way of offering my photography to my community as a gift.
Which brings us back to you guys...
There are a lot of you out there.
Not enough to fund this particular project, but enough to make this dream a reality.
If all of you signed up as sustainers, even for as little as $1 a month (less than the price of a single movie ticket / year), it could be a huge step in that direction of helping me sustainably make the kind of work in the world that my heart calls me to: images grounded in the truth that everyone is photogenic.
An invitation to join us:
This is Whitney.
She's backer #389.
She was also a participant in the 2011 incarnation of How Philly Moves.
And, since October 2012, she's been one of the sustainers of my non-commercial work via a small monthly contribution (tax-deductible) through my fiscal sponsor.
Right now, there's just a small handful of them out there...
(you know who you are – thanks guys!)
If all of you joined us in continuing this journey, it would be a powerful statement of support for this message.
Please consider coming along for the ride by signing up as a sustainer for as little as $1/month:
And remember, no matter what, everyone is photogenic.