“Art moves us because it is beautiful, and it is beautiful in part because it means something.” ~ Roger Scruton
A couple of weeks ago was the Grammy’s. Next weekend is the Oscars. This coming week is WPPI. This past week was Senior Portrait Artists. And EventDV will soon announce their Top 25 All-Stars. It’s awards season and photographers and filmmakers across the nation are going wacky over them. What is it about awards that make us so crazy? It’s like we lose all sense of reason. I mean, people actually go out and campaign for them. Hollywood studios take out full page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Videographers send e-mail newsletters and Facebook e-mails telling you to vote for them for EventDV’s Top 25 (if you have to remind me to vote for you as one of the most influential in an industry, isn’t that a sign that you’re probably not? Just sayin’.)
Oh, then there’s all the drama. Well why did this guy win? What’s so special about this photo? Well of course HE voted for that one! What are they looking for? How come all the Australians always win? What do you mean that light is flat? That photo was all Photoshop. That video had no emotion. Why wasn’t Chris Nolan nominated? Blah, blah, blah!
And then what happens if you don’t win? You feel depressed. Beat up. Down and out. The photo or video that your clients, friends and colleagues raved about before you entered it into the competition, is now crap in your eyes because it scored low, or didn’t make it into the finals. Nothing changed except your perception of yourself and your art.
People….STOP THE INSANITY!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against competitions and awards in and of themselves. They can push us to be better artists. They can force us to look for areas where we are weak. The adrenaline rush before the announcement can be a natural high. And healthy competition can be good for the soul. But I often feel we as artists (and business people) lose sight of the bigger picture. Unless you make a living teaching other colleagues, awards will NOT generate you more business. Sure, they’ll make your office and studio look cooler, but do you really think the clients who come to you are doing so because you were an award-winner? Or is it because you created something that connected with them? It’s gotten to the point where people seem more concerned with creating photos and videos that will win them the next big award vs. something that really speaks to their clients.
As an artist, strive to be better at your craft. As a small business person, strive to deliver your clients something that they want. And if you can keep it all in proper perspective, go ahead and enter award competitions. But in the end, when it comes to your art, remember Roger Scuton’s quote above. And when it comes to your business, remember the best award you can get is a sound—and it goes like this… “Cha-ching!” Worry about getting THOSE awards.
Evro Moudanidis says
Although I agree that winning awards rarely translates to $$$$, it can be a good strategy to bolster your brand through good marketing. Another great aspect of winning awards is the way it propels a person’s self-worth & esteem because artists are an insecure bunch, even those at the very top need constant reminders about how awesome they are 😉
Its one thing for a bride to love her wedding video or photos, but a whole other story to receive peer recognition through international awards like the EDV25. Those that don’t make the cut will always complain about foul play and bad politics.
Congrats on another great blog post Ron 🙂
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for the comment Evro. The point you make about awards bolstering self esteem, although true, is indeed part of the problem. Because when someone doesn’t win, the opposite happens. That’s a bad thing.
Regarding bolstering your brand, unless you either have A) a LOT of awards, and/or B) really important awards that the average Joe recognizes (e.g. an Oscar, or Emmy, etc.) I don’t see how winning some awards bolsters your brand. Can you give me an example?
meg simone says
Personally, I think what’s best for my brand is to strive to always be a “people” winning videographer, not an “award” winning videographer. If I can’t win my clients, and produce the best possible film for them, I’m not doing my job. My SCORE counselor taught me that about 4 years ago and I have never lost sight of it. I want to win couples over by being true to myself and my work.
You are on fire with these thought provoking blog posts Ron! Loving it! – Meg
Ron Dawson says
I love it. A “people” winning videographer. I have no doubt you are Meg. And thanks for the kind words.