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Breaking the Fourth Wall Through Careers in Photography

December 5th, 2009

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It is difficult to make a name for yourself in photography, there is no denying this, but making an innovative photography piece is even harder for many budding photographers.   Thus, the troubled times in pursuing art make themselves known early on, as many aspiring artists struggle to find their niche in the art world.  Photography is the newest form of art and yet has experienced similar hardships with a rising amount of potential photographers.  The key is, to figuratively “break through the fourth wall”, in other words, commit to a realism that touches the viewer.  While the term is meant to appeal more to performance art, such as theatre, it is still applicable to the world of photography which attempts to bring still images to life through lighting, setting, and background.

While careers in photography may seem few and far between, there are rising opportunities for many students of photography in many different fields.  While you may not go far with aspirations of becoming the next Ansel Adams, if you satiate yourself with entry-level positions in galleries, this may amount to a new career option.  The skill of photography is a skill that nearly every person thinks they have, but it is only through careful cultivation that true talent emerges. This cultivation is typically in the form of photography classes or art degrees.  Photography focuses much more on what is beyond the image, rather than the image itself. 

How many of us are well acquainted with the popular photographs through history, such as the soldier kissing the girl after returning from war (“The Kiss”) or the famine stricken child in Sudan only feet away from a vulture (by Kevin Carter)?  These photographs literally transcended their still life image and allowed us to take a peek into the true nature of the photographs.  The image from the Sudan is the most haunting of all, as we can see the ribs of the small child protruding in a UN camp while a vulture looks on; this photograph haunted Kevin Carter to his grave as he killed himself only a year later.  While these images have found a name for themselves in the art world, this is not to say that only depictions of world events are of the caliber of great photography.  Many great photographs around the world are seemingly amateur recollections of families or different customs in countries abroad.

While careers in photography still seem to be far away for the entering photography student, keep in mind that there are many valuable opportunities out there.  Anywhere from working with a newspaper to a modeling agency qualify as work experience and can teach you many valuable lessons in the industry.  Photography is more than just an image frozen in time, it is about the background and the meaning that goes into it; this meaning must literally break through the fourth wall to absorb the viewer and capture history in the making, regardless how monumental or small it may be. 


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