David,

Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
I completely agree that the bottom line is whether the work justifies itself, but in this regard, I see no distinction between painting, photography, or any other two-dimensional medium. Whatever the medium, the frame must have some proportion. We may choose the proportion, or we may let someone else choose it for us.
In painting and other two dimensional work you can sketch out what you want and make the decision about the size canvas (or other material) you want.
If you were to apply that thought to photography then, you would determine what format you want to use to best display your vision of the subject in front of you. But then we would be talking about an experience that is happening during the exposure.

Most typical examples of cropping (the topic here) are not done during that time, they happen back in the darkroom or studio. And can often be a second guessing of the composition of the subject. (Portraits of moving children aside)

Also please note that I said "can often be a second guessing" this is not meant to say that anybody here on this board is doing this.

Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
I also don't care whether work is cropped or not, but knowledge of whether it is cropped will say something about what the work means and what the photographer's intentions were.
Yes, but in the real world, we don't get that chance to look into the photographer's mind very often. So that knowledge is not always given to us.

Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
For those of us who work in static subjects, we do have the luxury of revisiting, reframing, reproportioning, rephotographing. For those who work in still life and the studio, arguably all compositions are fantasy compositions. In much of the nineteenth century, before the age of relatively high speed film, no photographic decisions were made in the fraction of a second.
Now here is where I have to totally disagree with you. Every time you go out and shoot even it is the same subject you have shot before, it is not the same, and you are not the same. The lighting has changed, a car is park in a different place, some trash got picked up from the scene, some got placed in the scene, a new building is behind the subject, or an old one is missing and that causes the light to change. Whatever, its not exactly the same.

A still life in the studio, ok, that could be the same. But still your not the same, you will at least have the experience of the first shoot and be armed with the knowledge of what worked and what didn't in the first shoot.

That fraction of a second (that we now shoot with, I'm not a hundred years old) only happens at that one moment in time. You can never shoot that same moment again. You can never see the subject the same way again because you are only at that moment in time once. Which is why they came up with the saying "You only have one chance to make a first impression."