One of my “New Year’s Resolutions” was very simple: Learn to play nice (or nicer) in the photographic sandbox. I’ve been accused, in the past, of taking verbal shots at people who, in my opinion, were acting just a little silly. Historically, that trait hasn’t been restricted to fellow photographers, of course. I play no favorites. I did the same thing with acquaintances, relatives (especially relatives), coworkers, bosses, and anyone else who didn’t seem to be making any sense at some particular moment. As an aside, I can say from vast amounts of experience that it’s not the best way to get ahead in the world. You tend to piss people off that way (like the person who just happens to be responsible for salary increases or promotions). But I’d do it anyway. Go figure.
Anyway, such verbal criticisms seem to be especially unwelcome in the photographic community. I’ve never really understood this. Well, I understand what people say is the reason. Since Art (there’s that word again) is very personal and very subjective, no one should question or judge the value of another’s work. It’s OK to not like someone else’s work but, especially with respect to photography, it’s generally not OK to say so publicly. But why not?
The same logic doesn’t seem to apply to other types of expression. If you don’t like a novel, it’s perfectly acceptable to slam the book and the author. If you think a movie sucks, just say so. Don’t like the music at a concert that you payed $100 or so to see? It’s OK to let the artist know you’re displeased. You can “boo” or just walk out. You could even ask for your money back.
In the photographic blogosphere, however, such actions are “taboo”. Even if someone suggests that their style and their subject matter is more “worthwhile” than anyone else’s, it’s still considered bad form to respond in kind. Confrontation is not good. We’re just one big, happy photographic family.
Well, my “resolution” is toast. It’s just not in my nature to turn the other cheek in the face of nonsense like this:
But, just like the nearly endless stream of pictures made at iconic locations – Half Dome, Horse Shoe Bend, Old Faithful, Rainbow Arch, et al – I don’t understand the weird idea, to my way of thinking, of wanting to picture what has been pictured a zillions times before. I want to avoid like the plague putting my feet and my tripod feet in the same places that have seen a zillion feet and tripod feet before me.
To be completely frank, I am so sick and tired of images of all the iconic places that I don’t even want to visit any of these places for any reason whatsoever.
In case you missed it, this little gem is from the Landscapist (Mark Hobson’s blog). Now, I enjoy reading Mark’s blog, and I agree with him on a lot of issues, but his insistent implication that photographing in “iconic” locations is a waste of time is arrogant and silly. In Mark’s mind, photographing a plateful of garbage in his sink apparently has more value. In all fairness, maybe to Mark it does. That’s fine. But to tell the world that any image taken in a national park (or other such place) is of no value because it’s been done “a zillion times before” is horse pucky.
I would suggest that he take a hard look at his own work. In terms of style and subject matter, he’s not only painted himself into a corner, he’s become the corner.