Jonathan Blaustein, our man in the field, caught up with Photographer David Bram: editor, publisher and co-founder of fraction magazine ; recipient of the 2010 Griffin Museum Rising Star award; and a curator of exhibitions for several commercial galleries and non-profit photo spaces.
Jonathan: Do you think that more people look at photographs on a screen than on paper, and if so, does it change the way people think about photography?
David: I look at almost everything on a computer screen, so if that is an indication, then I would think that photographs are mostly viewed on a computer of some sort at this point. I’m not sure how many laptops are sold each year, but over 8 million iPads have been sold since April 2010 and nearly everyone has a cellphone that can make pictures as well. I think what has changed most about peoples’ perception of photography is that everyone has a camera, which then makes them think they’re a photographer. The computer age and the internet revolution, has taken the tangibleness out photography, we used to handle film, load cameras, handle negatives, handle paper, etc. I think this is the biggest change.
Jonathan: Fraction offers photographers a great deal of exposure in exchange for publishing their images for free. As online media begins to develop sustainable income streams, do you see a future where you are able to pay for publishing rights?
David: I am not paying the artists that are showcased because there isn’t any real money generated from it. Like most websites, money can be made with advertising and if you have the proper content there’s an audience for the advertisers, but for now, I do not see paying for content. And, I am not sure I will ever have to. As a photographer, I would love to be paid for having my work on someone’s website, but it’s not realistic at this point in time. Fraction is not an online gallery that aims to sell work and make money. Fraction merely introduces the artist’s work to the Fraction audience, free of charge.
Jonathan: Between portfolio reviews, internet research, and Fraction submissions, I would imagine you see thousands of photo projects a year. Are there any subjects that you feel have been done to death and you wish would just go away?
David: I’m not sure anything needs to go away because every artist, hopefully, has their own way of seeing the world. Also, I’m not sure it’s fair for me to say what needs to go away. I am finding that photography subjects are cyclical in nature, and who knows what everyone will love next week. There’s a difference between poorly executed work and tired subject matter.
Jonathan: Fraction is based in Albuquerque, and I’m based in Taos. You and I know that northern New Mexico has a lively and broad photographic community. Why do you think photographers are drawn here?
David: I think artists come to NM because of the weather and the light. Everything in New Mexico is dramatic, from the way the weather moves across the landscape to the politics. For me, the best time of year to photograph in NM is October and November. The air is cool and the light is amazing, especially in the hour before sunset. For photographers, there is a great sense of history as a number of great photographers have come through here at some point in time; Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander and Laura Gilpin, as well as a long list of contemporary, well established photographers who call New Mexico home.
Jonathan: It seems like we’re entering an age where the traditional boundaries that existed between artists, curators, dealers, editors and publishers are coming down. I can think of dozens of people who are doing more than one thing. Do you think this has any serious implications for the photography industry?
David: It just means that some of us are more busy than others. I’ve been busy working with Fraction, doing portfolios reviews, the occasional talk, and yes, I am trying to make new work as well. I think this can only help the industry since some of us know how hard it is to make a living making photographs. I think technology has made things easier as well. Email gets us in the door a little faster and our own personal websites let the dealers and publishers see what we’re up to a whole lot easier then sending around books or portfolio boxes.