Lewis Baltz frequently says he hates photography. Nearly every self-aware photographer I've read in interview, admits, there's a certain artistic (in the traditional sense) laziness that led them to the camera, which inevitably leads to an intellectually defensive attitude about the chosen medium and in turn, intellectually informed practice to back it up. I think most of us create philosophical justifications for making photographs on some level - especially when we don't create work with visual immediacy. That's not to say putting philosophical emphasis on our practice means we "must be terrible photographers" (as some have insinuated), because there's a kind of plateau that can be reached through a deeply analytical approach - out of which better work can eventually be born - a point of, dare I say it, enlightenment. I think this is what Andy_K is in search of, but through my own searching for this, I've come to understand it's not something that can be achieved alone - even with correspondence with photographers by email or forums. It might actually be intellectual suicide. The most notable photographers with highly critical sensibilities, almost without exception, are the product of a school - whether this is having famous artists as mentors; Stephen Shore and Andy Warhol or Düsseldorf, for example - places where one can be in contact with notable and accomplished practitioners. This is why I've been seriously considering going back to university - I'm not getting the stimulation I need to feed my work. Most self-taught photographers eventually give themselves over to a photographic tradition and let this be their teacher - because the intellectual isolation of a critical approach would be too strained and too insular. This is the risk I see with anyone getting too deep with this stuff, in isolation.
Originally Posted by Kevin Kehler
It's unfortunate that this thread has created this discussion, and I apologise for my part in it, but in a forum made up of 90% hobbyists, it's probably the most searching debate we can have. I share Andy_K's disquiet about nostalgia for formalism/modernism on APUG - but they need a 'gateway drug'. It's interesting then that he's snooty about Barthes and Sontag. Like a crack addict might be about pot heads....