Apologies for being somewhat rude. It's just that you can't imagine how many times someone has posted a technical question, only to have the discussion derailed by someone eventually chiming in with the old "nothing is worse than a sharp print of a fuzzy concept" thing. It never fails. So my furstration got the better of me.

I would say I'm mostly on the same page as you, after having read your explanation.

All I'm saying is there seems to be this notion out there that an interest in the theory and science of photography necessarily precludes artistic vision - and worse, that ignorance of technical matters necessarily makes one a better artist. This kind of thinking is utter nonsense. It is also one of the reasons why there is so much bad technical information out there when it comes to photography.

So I tend to get upset when issues of substance vs technical quality are raised. It is a false dichotomy. A red herring. Substance and technique are not mutually exclusive. It is perfectly possible for a photographer to be both a creative artist and obsessive about the minutiae of the photographic process.

Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Cherry View Post
My apologies, Michael, I will do my best to refrain from such comments in the future.

However, I would like to point out that others before me most certainly made this about more than the mere technical, by discussing (to put it kindly) the aesthetic value of work that may not meet their technical standards. I am of the opinion that to divorce the technical from the aesthetic, and therefore the artistic, is a huge mistake that has gone on far too long, not only in the photographic community in general, but in photographic education in particular.

If you'll be so gracious as to indulge me for a moment...

For quite some time now, the aspiring student of photography, when deciding upon a course of education, is asked what at first seems like a simple question: "Do you want to be a commercial photographer or do you want to be an artist?"

If the answer is that you would like to be a commercial shooter (you know, a complete sell-out whore like myself) who charges folks to take photographs, then you are routed to a predominantly technical curriculum, with very little education in the arts, even, if it can be believed, the canon of art photography. If the young student says they want to be an artist, then they are sent down the path of the MFA where they get an amazing education in the arts - unfortunately, when they graduate, they don't even have the technical skills to assist a working photographer.

I see this in students all the time.

It is my contention that the pedagogy is wrong, and that this view permeates our views of photography, as evidenced by this discussion. If one views themselves solely as a technician, devoid of artistic intent, or solely as a creative with no ability to produce the work the envision, then I suppose this world view is fine. However for anyone who see themselves as both a competent craftsman and an artist, then it is as ridiculous as the tangential debate going on here.

You say we all know that content is the purpose of making a photograph, however, I'm not sure if that's true. I'm not basing this statement on this thread, or on those in this thread, merely by having spent years helping to educate other photographers. There are many who give very little thought to content and who only seem to appreciate the technical.

But then what do I know, I enjoy Avedon's work... I'm sure I (along with my clients and the galleries that represent me) am a total hack who should just keep his opinions to himself. Apparently my time would be much better spent plotting a paper curve...