Wednesday, June 1, 2016

So What Shall I Do?

Some smartasses have proposed that perhaps I could quit being unkind to other bloggers and commentators. Consider this remark from Mr. Thein's blog:

I was having a discussion about the presentation of landscape and color use the other day with one of my students – which in turn got me thinking about why we see so few modern landscapes that work in monochrome, typically unless the shooter is trying to imitate Ansel.

which is, well, it's just a wrong statement. There's plenty of monochrome landscape being shot today that looks nothing like Ansel Adams.

I can comment on Mr. Thein's blog to offer some correction, you suggest? No, actually I cannot. Mr. Thein does not accept correction from me, as far as I can make out regardless of how polite I am. I suppose I could try swearing at him, but I am dubious. ETA: Apparently I made it past a round of moderation after all. Perhaps I shall commence remarking on his blog again, in lieu of remarking here. Wait and see, I guess!

I could let it slide, I suppose. Is that the right answer? Should influential bloggers simply be allowed to say whatever they like without challenge? Or do I need to be a more influential writer before I am permitted to correct The Mighty? What?

I suppose I could just kindly and generously correct the misconception, without suggesting that Mr. Thein is either ignorant or wilfully ignoring reality in order to promote his preferred world view in which he is a lone visionary beset on all sides by cruel commenters, fools, and fauxtographers. Is there a point at which I might offer such an observation, and if so can you give me a rough estimate of how many thousands of "tells" must appear before I might offer such a cruel suggestion?

Let me just say, then: Sally Mann, Sebastio Salgado, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and leave it at that.


  1. Ray Metzker? Lee Friedlander? Thomas Joshua Cooper?

  2. Children, please; let's all put on our big-person boots, let's call an op-ed an op-ed (mit periodic irrefutably logical critiques contained therein), let's agree to be stimulated to robustly critical thought - and possibly even to an occasional well-thought-out riposte, oooh! - by entertainingly opinionated op-ed's, and leave it at that...

  3. Nice would be so fucking dull. Be true to thyself.

  4. "...why we see so few modern landscapes that work in monochrome..." - say what? Just another piece of evidence that the camera-and-software fondling fauxtographer masses out there are not really interested in photography. Because if they were, how could they not have an interest in photographic history, historical or contemporary? This is exactly anologous to the fact that you can not be a writer of the slightest significance without also being a reader. And those are not even my words.

  5. In this particular case I will speculate his language is subtly geared at not insulting potential paying customers, and at advertising himself and photography classes as being able to lead someone on the path to enlightenment to answer, "But as with all monochrome, surely we could also use these properties to imply a sense of timelessness, surreality or detachment?"

    I get why he moderates you if he thinks you're bad for his business and brand, but I also get why you'd mock his persona. It's a pretty timeless interaction! But while I suspect the strength of your motivation for poking at him is solidly based in, "someone is wrong on the internet!", you regularly treat this as more of an ongoing, developing debate (although he is at best a very reluctant participant), where he can raise the stakes just as well as you can, and both of you are providing content, arguments, counterarguments, and new viewpoints.

    As to the unkind bit: there's a difference between "truth to power" (I use this phrase half in jest) and "I have decided someone needs to be brought down a notch". And because I doubt you give two shits whether random others agree with your position, I know you're more about providing working counterpoints and less about taking down a notch, although I'll grant this is not always obvious on the first reading. :D

    1. I certainly harbor fantasies of a proper Victorian War Of Letters in which all the players say the most awful things about The Gentleman From Westchestershire On Twiddlydeedum (never, ever, naming names) and so on, but I dare say it's not going to happen.