Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
I think the reason for that is, photography is pretty happily in the nitch it was created for and nobody has found a new use for it.

I don't see that as stagnation. A piano has 88 keys. Been that way for a lot of years. Lots of different ways to play it, untold combinations and styles, but in the end, it still sounds like a piano, no matter how you play it. Has it stagnated? Has it become boring? Does placing tacks on the hammers and making it sound like something else advance it in any way. Not to me.

I find photography the same way. Incredible tool. The results can still move people to joy, tears, and every emotion in between.

I think it's kind of perfect.
While a piano has 88 keys (and the Bösendorfer 290 Imperial being graced with 97), the piano is a tool of music, not music itself, and there are a great many tools. I compare this to saying a Leica camera perfectly defines the art of photography, and it need never leave its niche. Art is defined in the mind, not in the tool. A tool will allow a specific range of expression, from A to N, and another tool's range will be from G to T, while yet another tool's range is from O to Z. The most common photographic tool (fixed box camera) allows expressions from about J to O. The view camera allows expressions from F to W, and the pinhole goes from A to Z.

From On Being a Photographer, by Bill Jay & David Hurn (p.31):
This reminds me ... Ralph Steiner, the late, great photographer, would occasionally write me a funny, provocative letter after he had read one of my published articles. He would end with the words: "But you still have not told me in which direction to point the camera -- and this is what matters." And he is right.
The main tool of photography, the small box camera, has unfortunately stunted the growth of photography. It has created a mindset that a camera is a few inches high, several inches wide, and the lens sits on the front and focuses on something. When I was out a few weekends ago with another LF photographer strolling on the streets of Seattle, we got a lot of "WTF??" questions, etc. Yes, aliens had landed, they look peculiar, but they're not especially threatening (and no, it's not a Hasselblad).

So what does that mean? The mind becomes used to X tool, and that defines what is done with the art form. So to break out of X syndrome, a different tool is used, or it is played very differently.
"They said, 'You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.'

The man replied, 'Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.'"
-- Wallace Stephens

When a tool is used which changes things as they are, it's usually disparaged. Soft focus? Selective focus? A toy camera? Infrared film? Monster grain? Oh, such a horror! Painting with a different brush is oh so tres gauche! Witness the f/64 group. And also witness that their photographs have also survived the test of time.

Maybe it is not the photographers, but it is the public who is directing photography. Why do William Wegner's dogs or Anne Gerdes' babies sell? People just like them. Why do Adams' expansive and majestic landscapes stand the test of time? People just like them. And on and on. And so the market drives the direction of art, because that's where the money is.