Why I'm Giving Up On Patreon

As many of you (like 5 of you really) may know, I have a Patreon page. It's been running a little over a year and a half. It has turned out to be a resounding failure, for a slew of reason, not all of them my fault, some of them very much so, regardless... I'm shutting it down, and here's why.

Patreon is very much based on this concept of hope labor. I will do this thing, for free, and hope that someone will support it in the future. Artists, writers, photographers, designers, you know what I'm talking about. Great idea in theory, entirely terrible idea in practice. The fact that I am and have been basically doing this anyway, for years, without a platform to gain sponsors and patrons, makes Patreon a terribly attractive idea on many levels. Here's the problem(s)...

"Do you want to buy this photograph? No? I completely understand."

This is, and always has been, my standard sales pitch. I'm not a salesman, I don't want to be a salesman, I never will be a salesman. Period. Patreon promises a platform that connects paying fans to the creators they want to follow, but it does not deliver. It provides a decent platform for pushing work to subscribing patrons, but fails miserably at actually searching for, finding, and connecting anyone with anything. The responsibility is solely on the creator to seek out and drive patrons to their page and close the deal. Additionally, the publishing platform itself is quite lacking, and though better than when I started, needs a great deal more features and flexibility to become viable for the majority of content creators. For this platform, Patreon skims 5% of artists earnings, not including processing fees (Paypal, Stripe, etc).

Patreon is absolutely amazing for people with a large, established following, and that's not me. The time put into promoting this page is staggering when you take a step back and actually look at it. On top of that, the other services used to promote it require their own investment in time and effort to be of any use or effectiveness. I currently run a website, with a blog updated semi-regularly, a Facebook page, an Instagram stream, at least 2 or 3 Tumblr blogs at any given time (because I freaking love Tumblr, honestly), and probably some other social-media crap I'm forgetting about. It's ludricous, it's busy work, and I'm tired of it.

Perhaps most importantly, I feel as though I've begun to create content to satisfy a subscriber, and that is absolutely the last thing on Earth I ever wanted to be when I decided to pursue photography as my life's work. This took me a minute to realize, and come to terms with, and it's not something I'm willing to continue doing. I am, however, in a position that I don't have to. 

By definition, I am not technically, on paper, a professional photographer. The vast majority of my income comes from other places. I work at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in a full time position that affords me a decent salary, benefits, and flexibility to pursue my own work. I do classroom support for various departments, I teach on average 3 photography courses a semester, I manage the pool of equipment that students can checkout during classes, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have this stable, steady income that allows me to continue producing my own work. I also married really well, and that doesn't hurt either.

The point is, I don't need Patreon, and they don't need me, which is a wonderful thing.

It wasn't always this way... I've been crushingly poor at times, I've weighed 50 pounds less than I do now (it wasn't pretty), I've sold cameras to make rent, I've borrowed money from friends, I've been in debt, but the solution to those problems, the very real issues that working artists are faced with every day, aren't going be solved with Patreon, or Kickstarter, there is no app for that, there is no magic platform. 

It hasn't been a total failure to say the least. I've thoroughly enjoyed creating new work in a different way, and putting it out into the world. To those of you that supported my work, I cannot begin to thank you enough. To think that even a handful of you out there cared enough about what I was doing to not just pledge money, but to want to get prints in the mail once a month on top of that is just amazing and flattering, and I am forever in your debt. Some of you have supported me from day one (I'm looking at you Doc and Jon) and for that I will be eternally grateful.

All that said, I will be shutting down my Patreon page, and ceasing all subscriptions, effective immediately. From here on out, I'll be focusing on this, my own personal website, and less on the social media busy work that has become such a distraction.

And now, for the sales pitch...

If you'd like to support my work, please buy a print, purchase a book, commission a portrait, help me fund an exhibition, share my work with others, or just send me an email and tell me you enjoy what I do. It would mean the world to me.

And if you don't want to do any of those things... I completely understand.

Print Release, May of 2017 - No. 0433_06A

I've been sitting on this image for a while now... not sure how it fits in to anything else or why I keep coming back to it, but I do, and so I printed it, and here it is, for what it's worth. Some images are like that...

No. #0433_06A - South Lake Tahoe, California. February of 2016. Leica M3, Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 lens, Ilford HP5 400 film.

I'm experimenting with some new paper, digital proofs are printed on Arista Fine-Art Matte this month. It's a thinner paper stock, but it prints a much more neutral, continuous tone image. All 5x7 proofs are printed on Ilford Cold Tone  Fiber, as usual. Prints should hopefully ship out by the end of the week.

If you're not getting a print this month and would like to pick one up, you can find one in my shop here: https://www.josephszymanski.com/shop/no-043306a

To get in on monthly print releases, to support my work, and to get rad stuff in the mail every month, visit https://patreon.com/jszymanski/.

The Monte Cristo...

A few frames from the Second Annual Photography Shindig Thingy... some of us photographers and models and creative folks from The Bay have been getting together, in random swanky locations, this year was the Monte Cristo Hotel. We party a little, catch up a bit, we make some pictures, weirdness ensues...

#0515_01A - Sonia, 2017

#0515_09A - Michelle, 2017

#0515_25A - Sonia, Michelle, Tiana, Brittany, 2017

#0516_05A - Sonia, 2017

#0518_36 - Brittany, 2017

#0517_15A - Sonia, Tiana's Legs, 2017

#0517_18A - Tiana, Brittany, 2017

On The Road

Snapshots from the road... Southbound down The 5 to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, The Mojave, Kelso Sand Dunes Trump Country, and the like...

#0508_06A - Highway 5, Southern California, 2017.

#0508_12A - Joshua Tree NP, California. 2017

#0508_12A - Joshua Tree NP, California. 2017

#0508_27A - Amboy, Mojave Desert, California. 2017

#0510_12A - Kelsoe Dunes, Mojave Desert, California. 2017

#0510_17A - Kelsoe Dunes, Mojave Desert, California. 2017

#0510_19A - Kelsoe Dunes, Mojave Desert, California. 2017

#0511_12A - Amboy, Mojave Desert, California. 2017

#0511_15A - Tourist Trap, Palm Springs, California. 2017

Print Release, April 2017 - No. 0286_33A

Pulling another frame from my archive for the April release. I made this photograph in the Summer of 2014, on our last evening stroll through Old Stockholm before heading North to Ostersund for a week. I ended up using this image as the cover of the last book I put together... Fragments. 

#0286_33A - Tourist, Old Stockholm, Sweden. June of 2014.

Digital proofs are printed on Canson Fiber Rag, 5x7 proofs are printed on Ilford Cold Tone  Fiber. All prints should hopefully ship out by the end of the week. 

If you're interested in picking up a print, you can find one in my shop here: https://www.josephszymanski.com/shop/no-028633a 

If you're interested in a copy of the book "Fragments " you can find signed copies here  or get one direct from the printer here...  

To get in on monthly print releases, to support my work, and to get rad stuff in the mail every month, visit https://patreon.com/jszymanski/.

Above Image: No. #0286_33A - Tourist, Old Stockholm, Sweden. June of 2014.  Leica M2, Leica 35mm f/3.5 lens, Tri-X 400 film.

Adrianna, Take #2

#0489_21A

Last take from a shoot with Adrianna back in October. Last one I was able to gett in before the weather turned for the worse (or better, given the drought) for the season. All images shot on location at Marshall's Beach in San Francisco.

You can see more of Adrianna's work at modelmayhem.com/3271709.

Watch for a print release from this shoot coming out in the next couple months. If you're interested in getting in on monthly print releases and other exclusive content, visit patreon.com/jszymanski

#0489_09A

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No Ban, No Wall...

#0511_19A

February 4th, 2017. Several thousand people gathered at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco for a "No Ban, No Wall" rally, protesting the recent travel ban instated by the Trump administration.

Less than a month into the Trump presidency and already people were tired... overwhelmed by the daily onslaught of insanity coming out of the White House. The rally had little of the enthusiasm of the inaugural demonstrations or the Women's March two weeks prior.

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Polaroids From The Road...

No. #20170128_05 Amboy, Ca.

Made a quick run down South through Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert back in January. I often forget just how empty most of California really is... and how "red" most of the small towns along the way really are. We stopped at this boarded up Motel, Roy's, in Amboy, which is somewhere between nowhere and not here. And then this RV full of German tourists rolls up, gets out, takes a bunch of pictures, and cuts out.

No. #20170127_02 Joshua Tree NP

No. #20170127_05 Joshua Tree NP

No. #20170128_04 Kelsoe Dunes, Mojave Desert.

We almost... almost...  climbed to the top of Kelsoe Sand Dunes, but my ankle full of metal and our small dog were not cooperating. Plus we ran out of water. In the desert. Because we're city folk, apparently.

No. #20170127_07 Joshua Tree NP

No. #20170128_06 Palm Springs, Ca.

Word On The Street

#0502_00A - Howard Street, San Francisco.

Another round of rain coming through... Feeling bad for all my students, they've been stuck inside making pictures in their cracker box studio apartments for most of the semester and I think it's starting to take it's toll...

Posting daily updates on Patreon, as well as releasing new and archived prints every month. If you dig prints and like getting rad stuff in the mail, visit patreon.com/jszymanski...

#0498_00A - 18th Street, San Francisco.

#0498_22A - 18th Street, San Francisco.

Amber, Take #3

Posting the last few images from a shoot with Amber in October. Always love working with this girl... and feel like I needed a change of pace after all the rain and politics and the world ending and all... All images on location at Marshall's Beach in San Francisco, October of 2016.

Check out my Patreon for print releases from these and other shoots on a monthly basis...

http://patreon.com/jszymanski

#0476_11A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0475_16A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0475-36A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0477_01A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0477_18A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0477_23A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0476_03A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

#0476_10A - Amber, San Francisco, 2016

Print Release, March 2017 - No. 0379_20A

#0379_20A - Kasia, San Francisco 2015

Bringing out an older image from the archive for this months release. Kasia contacted me back in September of 2015 asking me if I was Polish like her and if I'd be interested in shooting. This is by far my favorite frame from the entire shoot...

Digital proofs are printed on Canson Fiber Rag, 5x7 proofs are printed on Ilford Cold Tone Fiber. All prints should ship by the end of the week.

To get in on monthly print releases, to support my work, and to get rad stuff in the mail every month, visit https://patreon.com/jszymanski/.

If you're interested in purchasing a print, you can find it in the shop...

https://www.josephszymanski.com/shop/no037920a

 

Adrianna, Take #1

#0488_21 - Adrianna, October 2016

Finally edited through some work I shot with Adrianna way back in October of last year. It was the last shoot I was able to squeeze in before the weather absolutely went sideways on us out here. There was a lot of haze and the light was changing fast, but the wind held off and we were pretty protected by the rocks and were able to shoot for a couple hours without any hypothermia...

All images shot on location at Marshall's Beach in San Francisco. Still have more images to sort through. Hoping to knock out a couple prints in the darkroom from this shoot for future print releases.

If you're interested in getting prints early and cheap, check out my Patreon page...

http://patreon.com/jszymanski

#0488_08 - Adrianna, October 2016

#488_36 - Adrianna, October 2016

#0489_12A - Adrianna, October 2016

Word On The Street

I know it could be worse. I know it could be snow. We're coming out of a drought. I know we need it. But seriously. I'm over it. Enough with the rain... It's making me depressed.

#0497_33A - Market Street. San Francisco, Ca. January of 2017.

#0497_26A - New Montgomery Street. San Francisco, Ca. January of 2017.

#0497_24A - Mission Street. San Francisco, Ca. January of 2017.

Women's March, San Francisco 2017

Intermitant torential rain not withstanding, well over 100,000 people came out for the Women's March in San Francisco on January 21st.

#0504_15A - "Resist" Civic Center / Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

#0504_13A - Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

 

It was a pretty powerful event, to say the least. I've never seen so many take to the streets in such a peaceful demonstration in my entire life. Police presence was virtually non-existent, no arrests were made, everyone got completely soaking wet and absolutely nobody seemed to care...

The march was more of a crawl until the mass hit Market Street. By then it was absolutely pouring. Didn't seem to slow any one down in the least.

Only posting a few images here. For more photographs check out the full Women's March gallery here, or use the link at left.

 

 

#0505_18A - Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

#0506_26 - Market Street. Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

#0506_90 - Market Street. Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

#0507_24A - Market Street. Women's March, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

For more images view the full Women's March gallery here, or see the link at left...

Inauguration Protests, San Francisco 2017

On inauguration day, January 20th, 2017, hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the old Bank of America Building in San Francisco to protest the election and policies of Donald Trump.

No. 0500_09A - "Resist" Bank of America building, San Francisco, Ca. January 20th, 2017.

No. 0500_22A - A young demonstrator. San Francisco, Ca. January 20th, 2017.

The demonstration was absolutely peaceful despite some reports, there was a minimal police presence, I don't believe any arrests were made at BofA specifically. There were other actions around The City where people were arrested. The overwhelming theme was resistance to the racist, misogynistic and hateful policies of the incoming president.

For more photographs from this demonstration visit the gallery here...

No. 0500_30A - Bank of America building. San Francisco, Ca. January 20th, 2017.

No. 0501_07A - UN Plaza, San Francisco, Ca. January 20th 2017

Later that evening several thousand people gathered at UN Plaza near City Hall for a rally and march against Trump. Demonstrators marched down Market to the Castro District. Again, police presence was minimal, no arrests were made.

For more photographs from this demonstration visit the gallery here...

No. 0503_17A - Castro Street, San Francisco. Ca. January 20th, 2017.

Print Release, February 2017 - No. 0419_28A

A little over a year ago now, on New Years Day, we ended up at the beach... It was freezing and horribly windy but the sun was out and the weather didn't seem to phase the dog one bit, as usual (mine is the little one on the left).

No. #0419_28A - Ocean Beach, San Francisco, Ca. January of 2016.

Digital proofs are printed on Canson Fiber Rag, 5x7 proofs are printed on Ilford Cold Tone Fiber. All prints should ship by the end of the week. Also including some polaroids from a little road trip we took through Palm Springs...

To get in on monthly print releases, to support my work, and to get rad stuff in the mail every month, visit https://patreon.com/jszymanski/.

If you're interested in purchasing a print, you can find it in the shop... https://www.josephszymanski.com/shop/no-041928a

Media, Control And The Coming Tyrant

President Trump... (I just threw up a little in my own mouth typing that) is using some rather blatant, textbook fascist style strategies that we all should be tremendously concerned about. Chief among them has been his handling of the media, or rather his efforts to control it, since the beginning of his campaign, and now into his Presidency.

#0463_34A - "The Emperor Has No Balls" The Castro District, San Francisco. August of 2016.

Step One: Demonize. Turn the public against the media, berate them, call them liars, say things such as...

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”

"lies, deceit, viciousness, disgusting reporters, horrible people..."

"they're scum, absolute scum, remember that..."

"I am not running against Crooked Hillary Clinton, I'm running against the crooked media."

Trump seems to be a pathological liar in every sense, and when reputable media outlets call him out on those falsehoods he perpetuates, he calls them liars and dishonest. His press secretary and advisors offer "alternative facts" further entrenching his supports against the "disgusting reporters."

#1409 - "Make Racism Wrong Again" Inaugural Protest and March. San Francisco, Ca. January 20th, 2017.

Step Two: Restrict. Limit media access, do not hold press conferences, do not allow the press to travel with you, do not let the press know whom you are meeting with. Trump's phone call after the election with Vladimir Putin was first reported by the Kremlin, not a single US news outlet knew of it. Let that sink in a minute.

Threaten to pull the press from the West Wing, shut down questioning from news organizations you deem "fake news," push your narrative and attack those who don't play along. Control the headline.

Step Three: Threaten. During his campaign Trump threatened to sue the New York Times after an article ran about his alleged assault of multiple women, then threatened to sue a second time for an article that released parts of his tax returns. Trump has said he wants to "open up" libel laws so he can more easily sue news organizations.

"I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected," Trump said, both demonizing and threatening in one motion.

Step Four: Circumvent. Bypass the media entirely, communicate your propaganda to the public directly, post videos directly to social media, tweet constantly, hold large rallies instead of press conferences, allowing you to continue to push your agenda to the public unimpeded by journalists. To my knowledge, no president elect in the history of this nation has ever made a victory lap around the country before, and that should frighten all of us.

#1701 - "Midterm Elections" - Night of the Women's March. The Castro District, San Francisco, Ca. January 21st, 2017.

Tyrants will always attempt to control the media, and while Trump has been in office for less than a week, he seems intent on doing just that. The only way to stop this demagogue is to inform yourself. Read the news, not the facebook headline. Demand answers not sound bytes. Seek the larger truth, not the 4am tweet.