In 1963 a British zoologist and artist named Desmond Morris published a study called The Biology of Art, looking at chimpanzees who learned to paint (that sweet painting above was done by one of the chimps!), and how the creation of art could be affected by rewards.
Here’s a super quick video that summarizes the findings. Check it out:
(In case you just raced on past and didn’t watch the video here’s the quick summary of the quick summary. Chimps really enjoyed painting. Then the researchers started to reward the chimps with peanuts for the paintings. Soon the chimps were doing the absolute bare minimum to get the peanut. All the joy for the process was gone, and they became focused solely on the reward.)
Often the photography industry seems a bit obsessed with making money. There is SO much discussion about going pro and how much to charge, along with much adoration of the photographers who command the big bucks for their work.
But perhaps we should spend a bit more time thinking about what we might be losing by charging for our work.
We’ve personally been full time professional photographers for 4 years now. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s pretty rad that I make my living by creating art.
And yet, I find myself thinking about my motivations when I shoot for clients. Why am I pressing the shutter? Because it’s a moment worth remembering? Or one that will make money? Does it have to be just one or the other? Is there a midway point that can be discovered? Or will money as a reward always change the nature of art?
I don’t have any answers to these questions today. I don’t know if I ever will! But I think it’s a topic that’s really worth meditating on, and discussing! We’ll surely be revisiting it more on the blog as we think, study, and research.
But today I’d love to hear from you! Is the relationship between money and art something you’ve ruminated on? Do you think they can co-exist peacefully? Does charging for art change the very nature of the creative process? Does it even matter?
Hit up the comments now and let me know what you think!