A slavish adherence to tradition can hinder the progress of art. Of course, that doesn't excuse someone from doing sloppy work. I have seen a rather large number of prints on office walls from "professional artists" showing extremely sloppy printing technique.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
As for knowing the work of previous photographers, there was a post on PetaPixel.com recently about riding buses. Imagine you're at a central bus depot, and buses to many destinations are going in and out of the central depot. Some of them share a common route for a while, and then they diverge to their individual endpoints. An artist gets on a bus, and starts riding it. The bus is the artist's journey. The artist takes their artwork to an art dealer, and the dealer says, "Oh, but that's like Adams." And so the artist jumps off that bus, takes a taxi back to the bus depot, and jumps on another bus, and rides that bus for a while. And the dealer says, "Oh, but that's like Arbus." And the artist does the same thing again, hopping on another bus.
What the artist needs to do is stay on the bus and see where it goes. The bus will diverge from the other routes, and go somewhere unique. The photographer needs to figure out what they want to photograph, and stick with it.
While Adams is known for dramatic 0.8 ratio pictures of nature, that's not the only thing he photographed, or the only type of camera he used. I saw a YouTube video where he packed a lot of cameras into his truck, and among them was a panoramic camera. I have never seen any prints from that! So how does Adams break from his own tradition?
That's another thing that drives me nuts, is that everybody has to find something to be "known for." You have to have a rut. You may not move out of that rut. And what is a rut? A very long grave.