Photography Cliques

For a long time I’ve been baffled by the invisible lines that are drawn by those in the business of art theory and criticism between different types of photography. And in particular the status of those types, the people who make them, and who gets to call themselves an ‘artist’.

An image made by “Britain’s Greatest Landscape Photographer, Joe Cornish” Not that great, according to the authorities.

I’m interested in landscape, and here there are clearly those who are in – Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, to choose just one period of time – and those who are out – despite being successful, even renowned. Is it because it’s “uncomplicated” (the word used by Mary Warner Marien to describe the kind of photographs published by National Geographic), not conceptual enough, not original?

Ansel Adams is a curious edge case. He scrapes into these surveys, but you get the sense his pictures are just too nice to look at. Too uncomplicated perhaps.

One more example, and it’s pertinent because this type of photography is so popular, and has far greater reach (and arguably cultural relevance) than the authorised art photography, is that celebrated in annual competitions such as Landscape Photographer of the Year.

Fully Loaded, Kevin Williams – winner, urban life

I’m genuinely curious why and how this division happens. Is there an interesting, useful quality judgement being made, or is it just people being cliquey?

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