The dearth of originality
Our featured photographer for SDk01 is Artpunk, a leading exponent of dark glamour. In this opening article he laments what he sees as a disturbingly popular mindset among students, and lays a portion of the blame firmly at the feet of the UK education system. The pages that follow display a selection of the rich, but moody and eerily detached imagery for which he is known and respected. Then gain further insight into the photographer and his work in the interview that concludes our photography section.
When I first started out in photography I strived to produce work that was different from what I saw around me. I would spend a month on every shoot, editing to make each one different from the last. As my skills improved, my pictures needed less editing; now, I hardly edit them at all. I worked long hours refining my style.
I decided early on that I didn’t like studio locations, so I looked to find alternatives and began to work in clubs and hotels. I found these to be more interesting and changed from place to place, giving a different look and feel to each shoot.
I would never dream of copying someone else’s work. I noticed a trend, though, while working with students who would blatantly copy the work of other photographers and makeup artists. When I asked them about this, they would say it was “the only way to learn”. I both disagree and object: you can be inspired by the work of others, but these folk were just ripping it off. What they should be doing instead is experimenting until they come up with something of their own they think is great.
The colleges should take some of the blame for this because they are not allowing their students to be more creative: they are teaching students there’s “a right way” and “a wrong way” of doing something – being too rigid and imposing restrictions and stifling creativity – when they should just teach them the basics and then let them get on with it. If this were the case, then maybe students would produce more exciting work.
I work with many student makeup artists and they come to me and show me a picture and say “I want it like that!” If they want a picture “like that”, then pay
the photographer that took it. If they come to me and ask for me to take it then they will get a picture in my style. It’s infuriating. Why produce a second-rate copy of someone else’s work when you can produce something new and exciting?
Then there are the so-called “professional” photographers. With the
rise of digital photography, anybody can pick up a camera and take a half-decent picture. These people think that means they can call themselves a professional and start charging money for their work. And there are models that think it’s a quick buck. But there’s more to modeling than standing in front of a camera. Real skill and talent are involved. The number of girls that start
The colleges should take some of the blame because they are not allowing their students to be more creative... being too rigid and imposing restrictions
and stifling creativity when they should just teach them the basics and then let them get on with it.