I think it's just that the physical process of photography got easier, so more people participate. You're just looking at the dilution of talent and diligence amongst greater and greater hordes of dilettantes; the quantity and quality of talent is ever increasing but you need to know where to look for it. If your basis of observation is wannabes fronting for representation, then it's going to look worse and worse.

The democratisation of photography cuts both ways: people now can easily make images that that could not have afforded or been physically able to previously, so we see a lot of interesting new art emerging - and much of that gets missed by people fixated on Weston and Adams. Conversely, tryhards who would previously have been dissuaded by the need to carry wet plates or run a darkroom are no longer dissuaded, and we need to just put up with that.

If I look back about 10 years, I was definitely one of the people you're whingeing about. Thing is, no one is born with the knowledge you expect everyone to have, especially those of us with careers outside of photography.

If you consider knowledge of past masters to be a prerequisite to making good photographs, you're effectively telling us that photography could never start. Someone, at some point, will figure out how to do something (very) good and without assistance. Given that it happened amongst the very few practitioners before there was a tradition, why on earth would you expect it not to happen now when we have an unprecedented number of people who have the physical means to create photographs?