Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn

Click to Enlarge
If you don't toot your own horn, someone is going to use it as a spittoon. Sage words. To a point. There's tooting and there's tooting and some photographers take tooting to extremes, especially on social media, a horn-tooter's paradise.

Here's some 411 for those who take personal horn-tooting  to the limits and beyond: While tooting your own horn has its merits, so does humility. It's been my observation that those who produce the best photographs engage in the least amount of horn-tooting. Certainly, more modest horn-tooting. That's not to say they don't toot at all, but the occasional triumphal sounds of their fairly sparse tooting is, more often than not, justified and well-earned. One look at their photos tells you so.

And that's my point: One look at their photos tells you so. Bottom line-- photos aren't better photos because their auteurs, i.e, the makers of them, tell you so.

Photos are better photos because viewers tell photographers so. And by viewers, I'm not simply referring to other photographers. Unless you're marketing something photographic to other photographers, marketing your photography, in one way or another, to other photographers doesn't mean squat. First off, if you're in the business of shooting pictures, other photographers aren't the folks who will be hiring you to snap photos. I've been a commercial glamour shooter for quite a while, nearly twenty years, and I've yet to be hired by another photographer.

Sure, peer approval is a cool thing. A satisfying and personally rewarding thing. Sometimes a head-expanding thing. It can be helpful too. Other photographers have knowledge and experience which may produce insights meaningful to your work and your photos, as well as to whatever it is you might be marketing. (Including and beyond your photos or photo services.)  But it's non-photographers viewing your work, people who do not possess that same level of knowledge and insights, who are your job creators. Those people either think your photos kick ass, they suck, or they lie somewhere in between. And they don't fall for excessive horn-tooting unless you show them the proof your horn-tooting is justified.  Even then, how you toot your horn may gain you their support or turn them off.

You see, the best photo-horn-tooting comes not from a photo's photographer, but from others. The people viewing their photos. Even when people or companies hire publicists to do their tooting for them, those publicists, leastwise the good ones, don't audaciously, unabashedly, and blatantly toot on their client's behalf ad nauseam. (By the way, I'm not suggesting photographers need to hire publicists. They don't. Certainly not the vast majority of them.)

Most photographers are their own publicists and being so can work well providing they understand the difference between effectively promoting and pimping their work via modest amounts of reasonable horn-tooting versus engaging in excessive back-patting and bloated braggadocio.  In other words, those who practice the art of horn-tooting well will reap the rewards of effective horn-tooting and those who don't, won't.

Course, those who ought to be reading this won't be reading it because they're really not interested in what others think of their blaring, high-pitched, horn-tooting or their self-proclaimed "amazing" photos for that matter. In their minds, no matter how loudly they toot their own horns it's simply the honest truth no matter how overblown and shameless their toots might be. After all, they know their photos ARE all that and a bag of chips and they're not the least bit shy about saying so. They'll tell you how good they and their photos are whenever or wherever they have the opportunity to do so.

I don't recall the name (like that's unusual) of the waifish, freckled-faced, pretty girl at the top. She's cute, no? I think so.


Photography By Jimbo said...

yes, Jimmy, she is cute :-p

Mike McClelland said...

Nice article, on point.