Friday, November 2, 2018

"Photographers" are Weird

By "Photographers" I mean, probably no surprise to anyone, camera enthusiasts.

By weird, in this case, is their willingness to judge a human being based on their photographs. Not even photographs of the human being, but made by the human being.

The more interactive I am in the world of photography, the more frequently I get the "oh YEAH well let's see ur pix" which is code for "I disagree with you about something, and I intend to bolster my philosophical position by mocking your photographs, completely independently of whether they are any good or not" which is absolutely the damnedest rhetorical flourish ever.

So, disagreement with Andrew turns into judging Andrew's pictures as shit. Which they might be, sure, but it's clear that they want to judge my pictures based on something I said about The Nature Of Art or whatever, not on whether the pictures are shit.

Conversely, when I piss in someone's cheerios and say things like "I don't think Ming Thein was ever a hedge fund manager" or "Chris Gampat is a terrible designer" or "Patrick Laroque is a hilarious idiot" or "Olaf Sztaba is a grifter" or "Michael Reichmann's margins on this Galapagos tour are insane" (all of which I have said and stand behind) the argument against is that their pictures are wonderful.

What on earth do their pictures have to do with what I just said? Nothing! Nothing at all! If you could tell a man's character by the photographs they make, well, a lot of very good pictures would have turned out a lot worse. Conversely, if being a good and upright human was all that was required to make good pictures, we'd have more of those.

I honestly have no idea what to make of this phenomenon. Are these people just imbeciles? It's possible, but it seems remarkable that so many of them would be.


  1. I'm onserving this on facebook at the moment, in the medium and large format group. One member opined that there were too many average photos of (semi naked or scantily clad or other) women posted, with the boringly predictable result, i.e as you described above. Posting photos is not a fucking app merit badge ffs, and not posting photos on fb does not mean you can't take and get famous for nude photos of Madonna.

  2. The flip side [?] of this is a situation I encountered years ago when taking a workshop with Evon Streetman somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina. The first day or so we all pulled out our portfolios and one after another presented our work. There was a fellow in the group who vigorously critiqued, to the point of attacking several presenters. When it was his time to present he informed us that he did not bring his portfolio!

  3. Yes, I agree. Funny, this. I mean, when a professional food critic slams a restaurant, people don't usually demand in return that the critic provide evidence that he or she can cook brilliantly. "His reviews can make or break a restaurant but, to be fair, his truffle risotto is fabulous."

  4. They're all imbeciles. Well not all but most of them are. When your credibility is built on touching cameras an opining on them and not actual good photography there is always going to be a 400lb troll in the room they have to learn to escape from. Show uz yr picz is one such escape trick.

  5. I think there is a certain je ne sais quoi to this topic. In all of Andrew’s posts, I have never come across an instance where I felt that he should show his work in order to state whatever he had to say, and I am not being polite here. Yet Eric’s example is perfectly valid.
    I never expected that reading The Shock Of The New, Robert Hughes had to produce works of art that proved he was equal or superior to the artist he was discussing. I think what comes into play here is a certain tone of how the comment/critique is presented, and for some reason, I think photographers often have the peculiar ability to convey a feeling of snotty superiority when commenting on other photographer's work. Part of that stems from the fact that a lot of them are equipment freaks who like to rub in the fact that they are using a Rollei while you ignorant shit are banging around with a YashicaMat, or whatever.

  6. Hmmm, this post actually made me think, and I have decided not to # any of my photos on social media with technical/process information anymore. We photographers have a bad habit of getting carried away with discussing equipment and techniques instead of concentrating on the result.

  7. At another online photography place I frequent, I suggested one day that it would be great to have a dedicated forum where people who were so inclined could talk about photography. Every once in a while an actual conversation about photography would start up in one of the many specialized sub-forums. Why not have one place for that kind of thing I asked?

    I was immediately pounced on by one of the site's graybeards who asked me if I was blind because clearly there were many forums on the site already where one could talk about photography (he provided a helpful screen shot where he circled them...). "No", I said, those are places where people can talk about *photographs*. I want a place where I can talk about *photography*.

    Need I say we did not come to a mutual understanding! As far as this person was concerned, you could not talk talk about photography separately from photographs. He considered that to be actually impossible.

    So to come back to Andrew's point, I think this is where it comes from among the "show us your pix" crowd. Partly it's the idea that you can't be credible talking about photography if your pictures are lousy (which is of course silly -- see Art Critic as a career.) But also I think it's this idea -- held by many "photographers" -- that you can't talk about photography unless actual photographs are riding along.

    1. That's similar to the argument that runs; photograpy isn't an art, but, photographs can be art in the right context. It's an almost invisible distinction as in your example but very important.