But I can't afford to hire one.
Uploading a photo to flickr is such an action of consequence. I take some pictures, I bring some ideas to life, I work on getting a final product (which consists mostly of selection). I might have something great, or I might have something merely okay, but in either case, the photo goes up, because I want to share it with the world, and then...not a lot happens. I watch the view count increase ever so slowly, as if that meant something. Sometimes I get attention in the form of comments (some of which are interesting, many others are merely flattering and not much else - which I appreciate, but there's not much for me to do with them), or occasionally a group invite (which I'm kind of ambivalent about; groups mean exposure, but most of my photos attract groups on subjects that aren't terribly exciting for me, which is one of the unique ironies of my photography). But that's it.
I'm not sure really what I expect, after all. But I wonder sometimes what people get out of my photos. I mean, yeah, I know there are apparently a lot of guys (and possibly a few girls) who think I'm hot, and that's great. But I don't need to know the sordid details of what those people "do" with my photos. Not in most cases (the few girls being the exception :p). And I know there are others who appreciate the artistry in my photography above and beyond their determination of whether or not I am attractive (and sometimes in addition to that). I like to hear when people are inspired by the work that I do, both my pictures and the thoughts and ideas and concepts that accompany them. I like to hear how they're inspired.
I don't want to come off as being too self-complimenting. I don't think I'm the best artist in the world, but I don't think I'm the worst either. And if there are ways I can improve, beside just generally getting more experience, I'd be happy (and humble) to listen to advice and take suggestions. I don't exactly expect my work to attract journalists and museum curators and whatnot, but it would be nice if it did, and if there were some way for me to reach that point, I'd want to know how to do it. On the other hand, advertising is at least as - if not more than - important as talent, and I never talk to anyone about what I do. And part of that is because what I do is controversial. Though controversy does draw attention, it's also very hard to bring up in conversation when you're the person responsible for inciting that controversy.
But I have no intention of turning my back on controversy, it is what makes what I do interesting, and therefore worthwhile. I'm not interested in focusing on boring subjects that don't ruffle anyone's feathers. Perhaps, then, what I need is to be less guarded on what exactly it is I do as a photographer (and in other aspects of my life). Yet there is a part of me that fears that what I'm doing is not really art like I think it is; that the only value it has is whatever value the people who find me attractive get out of it (thus rendering it on the level of pornography, and not even very exciting, to porn standards), and that all the "art" I see in it is an illusion that I am projecting onto it.
But I don't fully believe that, it's just a fear that nags at me. I think the more likely scenario is that I can't seem to pull myself away from what's easy and familiar (and interesting) - that is, taking pictures - and force myself to do the busy work that would get me noticed - which would be, working with what I've already created, showing it off to people, putting it together in more easily digestable forms, selling prints, getting my website together, et cetera. Of course, part of my hesitation to do that is, again, the fear of controversy. Self-portrait artists love to make quick change selling prints on flickr (surreptitiously), but this is much easier done when the model is attractive enough in her clothes, because I would feel extremely self-confident going anywhere and asking to have a picture like this one printed out and sold to my fans:
And anyway, how many people, no matter how much they like that print, would actually hang it on their wall, where all their guests can see it? I'm working against a heavy layer of sexual repression in society, here. There are powerful forces working against me, against what I do, and against everything I stand for. Which is to say, freedom.