Every aspiring artist dreams of making their big breakthrough. The moment when the world sits up and takes notice of their work and those long hours of labour finally pay off. In some ways the internet has brought these elusive breakthroughs within the reach of more artists as they have a greater number of platforms on which to promote their work. But in other ways, with innumerable art work becoming free for anyone to access, it has muddied the water of success. Photographer Babycakes Romero received the kind of attention most artists strive for when his ‘Death of Conversation’ set of images was picked up by websites around the globe. ‘The response has been insane,’ said the London-based snapper, ‘the first site it broke on was Bored Panda, then it went around the world, it’s been featured on over 150 websites. On the Bored Panda website alone it has been viewed more than ¾ million times’.
The photos, which show people in a range of social situations engrossed in their smart phone screens and ignoring their neighbours, seem to have struck a chord with audiences internationally. It’s clear that Romero was angry with the anti-social effect smart phones has had on the general public and he isn’t alone in his irritation:
‘From Bolivia, Bulgaria and back, it’s everywhere and everyone feels the same way. Hundreds and hundreds of comments expressing how fed up people are and how sad they thought it was that this communication technology was making us disconnect.’
It is this passion, both for his art form and in wanting societal change which has driven Romero and could explain his recent success. He is a self-taught photographer who aims to point out funny, interesting and other note-worthy phenomena in day-to-day life.
‘I feel that as an artist it is your duty to document the world around you, I am interested in social phenomena, human behaviour things that make us tick.’
Romero’s blog #MYLDN gives the photographer a reason as well an outlet for his street imagery. ‘I live in Central London, and I’ve never left my house and not seen something interesting and something worth documenting’ says the snapper. He encourages other photographers to be persistent when striving for that big break: ‘Just plug away, just incrementally start to build it up. Keep doing the work and hopefully something will get through. I don’t think there’s really a quick route any more, that’s the problem. Unless you can get the established photographic industry to get behind you, something I’m still trying to do, you’ve just got to keep plugging away at it.’
Romero was keen to stress his support of digital photography in making the art form more accessible to a greater number of people. I pointed out that it was ironic that he has been able to develop his craft thanks to photography’s digitisation yet it is the same kind of advancements which have led to the self-absorption he highlights in The Death of Conversation:
‘Digital photography opened it up for everyone and I think there has been a genuine revolution.
‘I think it’s a positive but people just need to know when to do it. [The Death of Conversation] is about showing that we need to put a bit of social etiquette in place, we need some boundaries otherwise if we don’t switch it off we will become permanently switched off ourselves.’
See more of Babycakes Romero’s work at babycakesromero.com