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Photography is Dead

Posted on: 12/04/2013 by Narcis Virgiliu | 2 Comments

‘Photography is dead’. Here were the last words of a friend, mentor and absolute amazing photographer I knew.
This thursday 21st of march, I woke up with the most terrible news.
Bruno Sabastia made the decision to take his own life.
Bruno was a Fashion/Beauty photographer I met 3 years ago during a christmas dinner party with my family.
When I discovered his work, I was totally blown away by his artistic background, the quality of his works and prestigious clients.
Last summer, at the Fashion week of Curacao, he won the award of ‘the best international fashion photographer 2012′.
Not only he was a great artist but also one of the nicest people I have ever met.
He was full of great advice, I loved hearing his stories, anecdotes and experiences. He definitely had a lot to share.
I saw Bruno for the last time during my birthday weekend a few weeks ago.
I will never forget our last conversation, about how much he despised the new upcoming wannabe photographers.
Those who steal work to real professionals, those who cut their prices and even ready to work for free because they are eager for exposure.
Since digital photography has appeared, everyone can call himself a photographer.
Internet, social networks did not make the situation better, even though they are today the main tools of promotion in our daily lives.
The problem is that phenomenon has increased a real self narcism and mediocrity.
Now people post worthless s**t.
I am amazed with the bad quality and quantity of pictures I see each day everytime I open my Facebook.
Desperate to read hypocrital comments on mediocre images with: ‘amazing!!’, ‘pure talent!’, ‘perfection!’, ‘masterpiece!’ -_-
This is what I see unfortunately most of the time. People are either kissing other people’s ass or have shitty taste.
I see no other explanation so far.

I remembered once, that I was really chuffed about a picture I posted and made 10 000 views in 24 hours.
I told Bruno and he said to me: ‘Cool, but what does that bring to you??’
Well, it actually brings nothing …
Since that moment, I realized that views were nothing but just a number.
A number is not relevant on what you do or are worth. It is nothing but virtual.
Look at the horrible nudes that are here on DA and you’ll find out why.
It has also changed my way to accept who to work and collaborate with, and for what purposes.
I have been pretty strict with my own conditions I have managed to impose and negociate.
However I must admit it is not easy due to the tons of ‘models’ ready to pose for free only interested in getting pretty pictures.
Webmags or papermags that do casting calls for free editorials, no budgets for muas, models or photographers but manage to sell anyway with the damn excuse of great exposure.
But did you know that you can also sell your photos for editorials ??
So called photo associations I see these days that go to different cities in the order to promote photography and artists.
When all they do is ask for money and donations, and ask the participants (photographers,models,muas) for an amount of money.
In the end there is a book for sale and obviously zero profit for the artists who contributed. But again ‘great exposure’.
How can I have respect for those people ?? who actually spit on photography when I see the poor quality and concept they promote?
It is an insult for all of us.
That way of thinking is one of the factors why photography today is going down.
I am tired of reading: ‘like my page’, ‘check out my work!’, ‘like the photo not the link!’, getting hysterical because they reached 3000 followers. Ok, then what ??
Who cares if you have 3000 followers or not? does it matter that much? are they 3000 clients? if not, why caring so much??
This is what it is today, it all about driving the buzz. Do anything to stir attention and collect the number of audience.
Again, it is not about the quantity of people who love your work but quality.
And if what you do is truly amazing, the public will naturally come to you, then the numbers will start speaking by themselves.

Tired of being insulted or called a pretentious b**ch because I mostly refuse to pose for free, trying to explain that I am not interested in having ‘publicity’ or pretty pictures. I don’t want it, I don’t need it (unless you are awesome and it works on both sides)
I am not a model who pose automatically because you press the button.
I simply have specific conditions that you need to respect and understand.
I may sound negative or pretentious here. But I am not.
I have true love and devotion for what I do. Always ready to give the best of myself.
I only protect and defend some standards. Defending what we do and provide.
But I have the sad feeling that photographers are not considered for their true value nowadays.
It is like it is not considered as a real profession but more like a hobby.
I am angry because there are true talents who struggle to make a living of their passion.
I am desperate with some attitudes and people that make the situation very difficult.
I hear some people telling :’yes but you know, things work this way now.’ .. And you are ok with that ???
Alright, our society is changing. We are surrounded by social networks that emphazise our desire to be seen more than ever.
But do you find Instagram and other bullshit artistic?
Exposing mediocrity and calling it Art, is that for the better ??
This is where photography is going… DOWN.

‘Defend your work’. This is what Bruno used to say. By defending your work, you are giving it a value.
You don’t need magazines, photo associations or galleries to exist. You don’t need them but they need YOU.

Because of bank photos, the raise of amateurs that proclaim themselves photographers,
the cut of budgets, prices and even free of charge have killed the market and industry.
That is the main reason among many others why some professionals are being left in the cupboard.
Some had to turn themselves to new professions.
But for those who are in the industry for decades and have nothing else to do, what is happening?
That was Bruno’s case, because agencies and companies that preferred to pay cheaper younger and less experienced photographers had no longer jobs for him.
He had no more contacts. Photography was then over for him.
Most of the time, it is not about what you know, but who you know.
Like Bruno you could have photographed for Vogue, Chanel or Guerlain to name a few.
And in overnight, you can end up in the trash. Here is the sad reality ..
It is said that we must adapt to the new system and competition.
But if today great talents such as Bruno must leave and give up .
Who says that if things go on, tomorrow it won’t be our turn ??
What will be the future for the profession ??
I will never ever forget his last words: ‘Photography today is dead, and I am dead too.’
Bruno was a photographer for nearly 30 years. It was the only thing he knew to do.
This was his true love, his whole life.
His endless love for women. For Bruno ‘beauty is more than just a facade: every woman has an inner beauty that is essential for me to bring to light. It might be just a question of a few millimeters or a moment in time…’ like he beautifully said.

He was angry with those wannabes he had no respect for.
But mainly clients who prefer to give them work.
He hated the new system.
The current economic situation made things no better.
He had no longer hope for photography and decided to leave instead of seeing what he cherished the most collapse.
‘There is no more work. I have no reasons to get up in the morning..’
Thoses words are still haunting me.
I can’t stop crying. I am so mad. I knew he was totally out of sorts and we were powerless.
I keep calling him with the hope he will be picking up the phone.
I cannot believe he has left and decided to end up with his life.
France has lost one of his greatest photographers. We have lost a master.
If there was a photographer I truly admired and respected, it was definitely Bruno.
I believe that many people should take example on his carreer and his incredible modesty.
It disguts me to see those people around me full of pretention and pollute with their mediocrity.
Those viruses only obssesed with their visibility are slowly killing the job. Their free pictures make me sick.
Bruno left and other shit factories are sitll there. I see Bruno’s departure like a terrible injustice.
The loss of Bruno is worth the loss of 1000 poor worthless and useless photographers.
What a tragedy, what a scandal, what a fucking waste !!!

I know this isn’t going to change the situation or evolve in anyway.
The problem is more complexed than that and doesn’t concern only the visual industry.
This event has been somehow an eye opener and has changed my perspective on many things.
I think the access to latest technologies is amazing, social media etc have helped me to network with professionals
and discover some great talents. They are fantastic tools of communication.
They have changed our way of working but also highly raised the competition.
The artistic industry has become a rat race.
I have no problem with hobbyists, some of them have a true gift.
You have the eye, or you don’t.
And I believe that a few of them can turn into professional with experience and hard work.
The question is, for amateurs and hobbyists, how far can they go without breaking the industry?
I do not have all the answers …The subject is complicated.
I am not saying that the digital age and change is bad. It has brought many positive sides.
But let’s not forget it had some negatives consequences.
Let’s tell the truth … Too much photograhy kills photography
The acces and democratization of photography makes it active and alive more than ever.
But the profession is slowly dying with that massive production.
Nevertheless if you have some respect for Art. THINK a minute about what is going on..
Success is not always about talent, but about making a smart business out of it.
If you cut the prices today, do not expect to see them raise tomorrow.
By doing this you stab the profession and its professionals.
Do not work for free for anything. That is not work, it is charity.
Do not kill the market. Do not kill the real professionals and artists.
Do not pay anyone to get some work or whatever exposure. It doesn’t work like that.
If you call yourself an Artist, do care and start valuing yourself, skills and work.
If you want to be treated like a professional, think and act like one.
I am going to stop here, it would be way too long.

Bruno always had the right words to encourage and support others.
But none of us was able to relieve your pain.
You tried to hide your sadness with a smile …
I remembered that you so kindly asked me to pose for your lens but I had to postpone due to lack of time …
you were one of the funniest men I met always making hilarious naughty jokes.
Who is gonna make me laugh at dinner parties now?
Who am I going to ask for advice and tease about my ‘deviant’ modeling? (like you said so well)
It is not the fact that you decided to go that hurts me. You had your reasons. I respect your choice.
What hurts me is to know how you felt at your last moments.
A profound loneliness, sadness, despair.
There is nothing more terrible to suffer and have no one around understand.
I know what that is …
Feeling pain, no hope for the future.
Feeling that bomb deep inside of you, wanting to scream your pain but when you do, no sound comes out.
Only the tears, but you hide the tears and softly reply with a smile.
That is what you did, smile.
God, if only I knew, if only WE knew.
You were surrounded by many but deep down you were very lonely.
When people say: ‘if you need anything, I’ll always be there for you …’
Do they really mean it ?? I think not …
Sometimes you can have everything to be happy, but what attaches us to life remains actually very thin.
Your vision on the world was fair and wise. Just like your were.
I am so broken. So sad. I can’t accept it.
My family is devastated. We all are. We have lost a friend and a precious human being.
Not only you had talent, were established, you also had real recognition from the whole industry.
And despite all this, you remained one of the most simple and humble.
You never lorded it over others. Never.
Always available for those who needed you at any time.
You were always happy to share your knowledge and tips.
You remain for me and many of us, an example, an inspiration and a reference.
Thank you for everything.

My warmest thoughts go to Bruno and his family.
The bests are always those who leave first.
We are gonna miss you so much. XXX



2 Responses

  1. Catalin — 28/03/2014 at 11:50

    Cuvintele sunt de prisos coane… a mai scris si Aurel Varlan si Marian Mocanu despre starea fotografiei… e atat de trist… ma rog, sper sa isi revina situatia.

  2. Starea fotografiei romanesti — 01/04/2014 at 08:43

    […] articolului publicat de Narcis Virgiliu spune totul: “Photography is dead”. E zguduitor. Reiau câteva idei din textul […]


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