Gimmick Photography is a term I frequently use when discussing photographic concepts and styles with photographers and students I work with. I use it when describing how and why some photographers get known and remembered faster than others. It’s when an artist shoots, rinses and repeats over and over again, sometimes for many years, giving their audience a repetition of subjet(s) that makes a connection and recalls earlier efforts. Like playing that same 45RPM single over and over and over… the song frequently becomes a hit!
On the surface, this term seems to have a negative connotation, but that’s not how I see it. Take for example, the following artists; William Wegman and Cindy Sherman. Both gimmick photographers in my eyes. Otherwise how can you attribute their ongoing success from photographing the same canine subjects for thirty plus years or self-portraits as historical figures again and again. Then there is Anne Geddes, whose ongoing baby series has spurred a multi million dollar cottage industry on its own. Sort of the photographic equivalent to pop musicians Josh Groban and Kenny G. Maybe not high art but extremely popular nonetheless.
Gimmick photography can also be seen in books like Kevin Clarke and Horst Wackerbarth’s The Red Couch Book or Rodney Smith’s wonderful promo; The Hat Book. In the former case, the red couch was taken around America and placed in wonderful settings, photographed over and over again (remember shoot, rinse, repeat). And then the Travelosity Gnome brought it to a more commercial level borrowing the concept from the Traveling Gnome Prank of the 1980s and used again in the French film Amélie.
So this brings us to my accidental Bunny Series. My own collection of gimmick photography which takes from the Gnome Prank (but without the mileage) by repeating a theme over and over by posing the damaged bunny statue in and around my house over a three day period, leading right up to the Easter Holiday.
My Bunny Series is not high art, but as I tell my students, continuing with a single subject, a single concept or a single style by returning to it over time, can be personally fulfilling and can also make a continued connection to your audience. And if you allow it to organically evolve, your audience just might follow your artistic journey.
So what about my Bunny? Maybe these images will make you smile? Maybe they will make you laugh? And maybe if I continue with it next year, you’ll wish I would have stayed true to my earlier, funnier work.
With special thanks to Michele Clement, whose Bunny Statue got damaged in the move but was allowed to live again as a gimmick and Marianne Campbell who suggested I somehow include these images in a blog posting. Thank you ladies….
And yes these are just Instagrams, but I hope they illustrate my point….