June 11, 2011 Indianapolis hosted Indy Pride including the Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade. By coincidence the same weekend as the Talbot Street Art Fair. I was determined to go to both.
The parade was going to be too fabulous to miss. I grabbed my gear and headed for the parade’s starting line near Massachusetts and College Avenues. Parking is always a concern when heading to the Mass Ave area but with 75,000 people in town, it was an insurmountable obstacle. So, to avoid the agony, I drove through downtown to the parade’s last corner on Meridian Street right by the American Legion Mall.
This is where I showed my skill! I found a perfect spot to set up and selected a zoom lens so I could push in to get photos of the parade as it came down the street or back out far enough to catch the angle as they turned the corner.
I saw the entire procession go by and got some great photos including some of the politicians and local businesses who marched in the parade. These are definitely tweetable. Some of them are even newsletter quality. Now, if I could just figure out which candidate would find the photos more valuable, the one who was proud to march in the parade or the opponent who might want to raise money off his rivals support for gay and lesbian issues. I might really make some money off those shots – if I could get past my ethical objection to selling them for a negative campaign.
I enjoyed working the parade. It was a reminder of my past: doing photojournalism for the Daily Student at IU. There were several reasons that I didn’t pursue journalism professionally, not least of which was notoriously low salaries that the industry offered. Still, I loved being there to document events. I enjoyed that natural melding of my writing and visual abilities to tell a story. I was glad to do that again if only for an afternoon.
After the parade I stopped at Talbot Street Art Fair to have a look at the future I am trying to build.
Talbot Street is not my favorite of the major art fairs in Indianapolis, but of all of them it gives me the most hope. I can only describe the difference between the Talbot Street and Broad Ripple events by comparing them to European cities that I’ve never actually seen. Broad Ripple is the Paris of venues, romantic with broad avenues and a bustling population. Talbot street feels more like how I imagine London, narrow and crowded with decidedly industrial overtones.
The things that discourage me about the Talbot Street Art Fair are exactly the things that give me hope for my own success at similar shows. The artwork displayed seems crass, banal, and blatantly commercial. The technical aspects of the art are no less impressive than the craftsmanship at Broad Ripple or Penrod, but the inspiration doesn’t shine through. There seems to be a lack of soul in the artwork sold at Talbot Street, but still people buy it.
I am a good photographer, but I’m not a great artist. I don’t have the flashes of inspiration needed to create a masterpiece, and I don’t have the ego to think that nobody notices that. I can, and I do, produce work that’s worthy of hanging on the wall, but I can’t tell you why it’s worthy or what most of it means. Most of my Art Photos don’t have the emotional impact that I would want in my own home. Still, they’ll fit right in at Talbot Street.
My real talent is taking other people’s ideas and working with them. When I make art it’s using borrowed inspiration. I wish I could combine my two experiences from the day. If I could have have any job in photography I would want to be a magazine photographer — take photos that tell somebody else’s story. To figure out how to best meet the editor’s expectations, but to have the freedom, the flexibility, and the budget to capture the subject in any way I think best. I think of Annie Leibovitz and her portraits, particularly the ones for Rolling Stone. They are expressive, impactful, and all the subjects are assigned and external to the photographer’s own creative process.
Maybe I should start with me. Try to think of a Leibovtizian self-portrait that I can try. I’ll have to think about it, how I want to show myself and what story I want to tell.