Ed, we were doing so well.
But this time I completely disagree.
Your first two examples of Gordon Parks and Linda McCartney kind of remind me of a post I made with reference to the art world. It was about access. I'm not sure whether I'm much impressed with either photographers work. In Gordon Parks case, he documented the black lifestyle that at the time was not covered or particularly cared about by anyone else. We could argue about the quality of the work but to me his work is about access and his desire to photograph what he saw every day. That to me doesn't make him a great photographer, just occasional interesting pictures, depending on your point of view.
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains. I could take pictures of these mountains by the truckload and sell them in Hawaii and say Phoenix and people would rave about them. Sell them locally, and it's, so what. We see this live, every day.
In Linda McCartney's case it's essentially the same thing. One of the few groupie/photographers that covered the rock and roll scene in it's early days. The work is in my opinion, mediocre. It is again just access. She was there, took snapshots of the "stars" and people gobble it up. Not because of the quailty of the work but because of the people she photographed. Shooting rock stars on stage is just like shooting baseball players playing ball. It's already lit, you just shoot away and occasionally you get something pretty good. Access.
It reminds me of Jeff Bridges new book coming out on his behind the scenes shots during his life in movies. Is a lot of mugging for the camera and since it's pictures of movie stars, people are gaga over it. Amazing. All about access.
I could say the same about Annie Liebowicz(sp?) but some of her recent work is improving. She was initially employed by Rolling Stone and shot rock stars, pretty mediocre stuff.
The reason these people are famous is in my opinion, the access, I talked about. The fact that you think their work good because it is "rule-less" I actually think their work is essentially snapshots, while occassionally somewhat interesting, certainly not great photography.
Just my humble opinion.