Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
I believe that some images are the result of an artless art, where the image is captured devoid of conscious perception by the photographer. Would others agree?
Certainly yes! There is an entire genre of photography where camera exposures are made without conscious perception on the part of the camera-clicker. I would conjecture that Gary Winogrand would fall into that classification, Lee Friedlander maybe, and Henri Cartier-Bresson certainly. The key modus operandi of the technique is that the camera operator goes to a potentially interesting mix of subject matter (crowded airport, street riot, celebrity parade, etc) and then clicks away incessantly while events churn.

At the camera-work stage there is no decisive moment, no artful pictorial compositions. All moments rush by unseen, unexamined, and unconsidered merely punctuated by the twitch of camera clicks. At the end of the day these "reflex response" camera-workers basically have "burned" film and hope that something nice might turn up. The payoff comes when the contact sheets are examined. Henri Cartier-Bresson was particularly venomous to anyone watching him inspect contact sheets. He could not bear the possibility that people would discover that he had no clear idea of what was on the film.

Of course among the thousands of exposures that this style of camera-work generates there will inevitably be some gems; one in a thousand, maybe one in ten thousand. The underlying art is of considerable magnitude but it is not measured by the mountain of discarded pictures or by the nice ones that turn up. Rather it is embodied in the devouring impulse to make so many exposures and the even greater obsession to sort through much rubbish in search of putative masterpieces.