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This discussion has pretty much run its course but today Mike Johnston (he of 'The Online Photographer' blog) posted something particularly relevant. The last three paragraphs put it much better than I did throughout this thread:
Quote: Different things are accepted and popular at different times. If something is widely popular and widely accepted, it often becomes part of the cultural background fabric—the shared assumptions that we seldom question or even notice. These days, for instance, that a photograph should be beautiful and colorful and technically adroit and so forth are all accepted values. That a photo should have meaning...not as much; at this point in time, for whatever reason, we don't really seem to care about the meanings of pictures all that much. If the other valued elements we expect to see are not present, meaning can even be overlooked sometimes.
I just wanted to point out to those who look at this picture and think, "well, it's not very much as a photograph," now you know how I feel when I look at ravishingly gorgeous, richly colored, technically perfect digital confections that are devoid of even a scrap of meaning. Other people see perfection, a visual treat; but part of what I see is the void—what's missing—the lack of meaning, of substance to engage the mind and the heart. When I look at a scenic or a perfectly rendered leaf or whatever, I often feel the same way the people who saw nothing in this picture felt; I have the same complaint: there's not quite enough there for me. When a picture does have meaning, I'm more tolerant of its other failings, which seem less important in the balance.
I'm not saying one's better than the other, really. We all have probably taken plain pictures with deep meaning, and we all have probably taken pretty pictures that don't mean much. But to me it's very important to bear in mind that a photograph can offer a whole lot despite being nondescript in its purely visual aspects. And still be very worthwhile as a photograph, worthy of our thought, attention, and honor.
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