Photography After Photography? - A Reader Reacts


General Photography

My post Photography After Photography? (A Provocation) resulted in quite a few readers sending in comments. I didn’t expect so many people to agree with me. It seems there is quite a bit of discontent with the medium or at least with the current state of affairs. (more)

Dave Molnar sent me a lengthy email, which included two points I have come across at various times. I asked him whether I could quote part of his email here, and he agreed to it (thank you!). I don’t know to what extent I agree with Dave’s points, but they both deserve to be made and discussed:

I feel the stagnant nature of photographic education is a large contributing factor to the lameness seen in photography today. Imagination is dead, and every image must assault the viewer with some higher meaning, preach to a social consciousness, or have such a convoluted concept as to leave the viewer scratching their head and wondering “huh?.. I don’t get it”. If a true change is going to come about in photography, it has to be the rejection of the academic point of view and the reawakening of imagination in art. Let’s inspire, not preach.

Secondly I would add that a very large majority of photography is seen less as an expression of the photographer, but a commodity that can be promoted, bought and sold. I would argue there is no other art form that achieved a commercial viability and success as fast as photography. At my year end review a (supposedly) highly regarded critic from NYC called it a “business”, to be exact, he was talking to me about what I would be doing once I graduated and said “when you enter that business world out there…”, NOT art world, business world. Consistency rules the business world and what sells is most important. There is no place for the innovative or different, that just doesn’t sell.