http://samjonespictures.com/), for instance, is one of my absolute favorite commercial photographers working today. But, I realize that it's his aesthetic that I like - his aesthetic. In other words, I understand that I am looking more at his vision and less at what a true representation of his subject's personality may or may not be. His subjects, in a way, are just props. I'm sure he and others would object to that, but that is a different conversation.
By contrast, Platon seemed to be all the rage a few years ago (and may still be for all I know). Obviously, he is an immensely talented photographer, but his aesthetic simply doesn't resonate with me. But again, my core point is the same, which is that we are looking more at the expression of the artist and less at the nature of the subject itself.
You may disagree with all the above, but in some ways, that simply highlights my initial point, which is "what, in fact, are we judging in the first instance?"
Great topic. Thanks to the OP.