Say Something – Not Anything

Everyone in the world is looking for an audience. Whether you think you are, or not, if you are making any kind of creative work, heck, even non-creative work – if you are putting anything you do out there where other people can see it, you are looking for an audience. When you find them what are you going to say?

1936 by Mrs. Tulk South WalesAnd now an allegory for your edification: Let’s say you were out and ran into a celebrity or public official that you had always wanted to meet. Never wanted to meet any one in particular? Then make it the most beautiful gal or guy you’ve ever seen. Sure you’re shocked to see them there at your local watering hole, or pumping gas into their car. You somehow manage to scoop up enough balls to go over and attempt an interaction. All of a sudden you realize you aren’t the only one in the crowd who noticed them standing there. You know you’ve only got a second to say something to them before they are swarmed with other fans / suiters. This celebrity / politician / sweet cheeks looks up and makes eye contact with you. A hint of friendly smile forms on their face. Here’s your chance. What are you going to say?

“Hey, you’re that super-famous person!” Fail.

“You’re hot!” Nope.

Are you going to flash them your tits? I hope not.

“I’ve kidnapped your goldfish and if you don’t let me buy you an ice cream sandwich and mumble in your direction for hours my kitties and I are going to have fish tacos for dinner while you’re riding the weepy train all the way to Sadness Station.” Well, if you said that at least they’d remember you. Still, you can probably do something that influences them if you think about what you want the outcome to be before you open your mouth.

Your photographs and films are the equivalent to this scenario with the celebrity being your audience – any audience – and your photo / movie / painting / casserole being you. I guess there’s nothing wrong with just snickering and giggling like an idiot and letting them pass by. But it sure seems like a waste of an opportunity to me.

You never know who is going to see your work, or what opportunity might pop up when you least expect it. Why don’t you figure out what you want to say and start saying it with your work. Then when your audience comes along (and they will), you won’t have to threaten to eat their pets.

BTW: Will Smith let me buy him that ice cream sandwich and Goldberg was returned unharmed.

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3 Comments

  1. Zeke,
    I love that advice. I’ve been often hit on the street with “hey,! you;re that guy from next door” or “wow, I think I recognize you from the hardware store”. let me tell you, they got no attention whatsoever.
    The guy with the kitten tacos? we sat for a nice long icecream sandwich.
    Now really, I think you really hit the nail with this post. It really relates to what chase had to say about it:
    http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2009/06/your-photos-are-boring.html

  2. Interesting. By audience, do you mean those who like your work, or just a group of folks that you want to view your work? Perhaps I want to share my pictures, in general, with others who might have a different take on them. Is that seeking an audience? Is approval implicit with an audience?

    Regarding the story, I’m telling my own story, so to speak; I have no expectation that anyone will have an idea of what it is about. Yet, I do my best to put those photos out front that tell the story the best that I can with the skills and knowledge that I have at the moment.

    Great post!

  3. Thanks guys!

    If you want to share your work, I’d have to say as far as I’m concerned that is seeking an audience. Whether or not you are also seeking approval is a different story. You may be looking to upset them, make them love or hate you or something you represent. That’s if you’re looking to do anything to them at all. That’s what I’m hopping this post will encourage, to get people to think about what they want the audience to do / how to react to the work. They’re listening if you’re saying something or not, so you might as well say something, right?