I don't know how you can have a passion for something (or create art in a specific medium) without wanting to search out those that succeeded before you. Not necessarily to emulate, but to understand the "vocabulary" of the medium. It doesn't mean you have to like their work, but awareness is important. No one lives in a vacuum, and no one creates in one. When I'm confronted by an "artist" who says it's not important to know the history of photography, I can't help but question their commitment.