I’d like to begin this issue by stating that I am not a highbrow academic. I am on a journey to understand both how photography influences our culture and also to grow my own creative practice in photography.
I am leery of those people with readymade theories about what it all means as if there was a gospel truth that we can all agree on. Okay, so I grew up questioning everything and especially questioning authority. So, I ask a lot of questions. Yes, I am curious.
Actually, it’s possible that I’ll never grow up if it means sitting back and feeling smug that I hold some kind of enlightened truth on what it all means. What fun would that be?
I would, if it’s ever possible to attain that position, quickly quit photography and move on to something that has a little more nuance and mystery to it. It is a marvelous journey both in the making of photography and thinking and writing about it.
Too much of the art and photography world requires a special language and understanding of its theories and concepts. Most of it is rubbish. An insular bubble is created that gives them authority and job security all while closing off the rest of the world. It is as it were, an old boys club.
It is my belief that art should for the most part be affordable and accessible. You shouldn’t need a university degree to have an understanding of it. If art makes you feel intimidated then maybe we should rethink what gets the label art. Yes, it is always in the eye of the beholder.
What is defined as art is always a personal choice. You don’t need to take someone else’s word for the truth. So even though I read and think quite a bit about this, I am not of the group that has pretensions of its own self-worth be it as an academic or as an artist.
I speak of art and photography in the same breath. They are interchangeable. For whatever unknown reason they are often spoken of as two different genres. It is possible that the art world still hasn’t gotten over the disruption that photography created for them. Apparently, more than one artist was known to have said to a photographer in the early days that they were just too lazy to go to art school!
So as a method of taking some of the seriousness out of the topic of what is the worth of a photo? I am sprinkling some witty remarks by Duane Michals (Foto Follies: How Photography Lost Its Virginity On The Way To The Bank,) and his take on the art world snobs. I recommend this book!
This book and others are mentioned in my Curious Frame bibliography which is a work in progress of the books that I am reading or have read and provide information into my research on what photography means. That will be available for you in the very near future. You’ll be the first to know.