From: Christina Z. Anderson (email@example.com)
Date: 09/08/02-11:35:29 AM Z
I've been watching these several theoretical discussions for a while
now. I'm surprised that there are those of us on this list making
hierarchical judgments on photographs, as Katherine says below, as if one
type of photograph is better than the other; I believe we are smarter than
that. I probably rarely do landscapes, or, if I do, they include a human.
I prefer other types of photographs to landscapes at the moment but heck,
that could change this year or next. That does not mean that my preference
dictates whether content is more worthy in one than another. I may not have
an Adams print in my house but there is absolutely no way anyone could argue
that Adam's contribution was negligible, and I do find his prints beautiful.
We really have to watch letting our preferences dictate whether an
image has value as a whole, as if our subjective opinion is the truth. I
tell my classes that my opinion on the technical aspects of the photo are
fact. My opinion on the content of the photograph is just that, and should
not be taken as gospel, but can be supported by reasons, argued, disproven.
I may personally be bored by an image of someone's dog (unless it is
done in a unique way, coming from an art/painting bias myself), but that dog
image functions in a different category, equally valid, than does my nude
venus mordancage with cut off arms, for instance. I would strongly
recommend the book Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett. He very
succinctly delineates categories of photographs in effort to create further
dialogue and understanding of how photos, as human constructs, function.
Some photographs are not meant to function "as art". Some which were not
meant to function as such, now are, because of the context they are placed
in. So I condensed Terry Barrett's book into a one page handout that I will
require my class to read before we critique each other's work. I am hoping
that the handout will encourage more appreciation across the categories and
less snap judgment.
My two cents.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Katharine Thayer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2002 3:27 AM
Subject: Re: Long post on landscape photography...?
> Pam Niedermayer wrote:
> > I think doing landscape photography is a very satisfying process.
> > Whether it's art or not, or boring or not, doesn't really matter all
> > that much. I just enjoy doing it, it helps me see the land around me
> > better, take notice of those things I'd otherwise drive by not noticing.
> What makes no sense to me is the idea, promoted by one or more persons
> earlier in the discussion, that there is a hierarchy of content that
> people have to work through as their work evolves, and that anyone still
> doing landscapes is lower on the evolutionary scale than someone doing,
> say, digital montages or street photos or self-indulgent personal
> phototherapy. I'll take Sally Mann's landscapes, or Richard Misrach's,
> or Josef Sudek's, or Ansel Adams' (early work) for that matter, over
> most of the digital montages, street photos, or the like that I've seen.
> There's a hierarchy of quality in photography; it's not related to
> content but to the quality of seeing. Carl's advice is right, to be
> willing to really look, instead of just dismissing things out of hand.
> Sometimes the simplest things can be the most profound.
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