I’ve been taking photographs for a long time now.
Sometimes seriously, sometimes less so. But it’s only been comparatively recently that I’ve spent much time exploring the work of others.
I’ve looked at a lot of photographs. It’s easy to do so when so many are up on the web. Many of mine are too.
Lots of the pictures I’ve looked at have been technically superb. Lots have garnered considerable praise. But the awful truth is – if it really is awful – is that I don’t like almost all of them.
In this era of freely exchanged ‘likes’ and ‘loves’, it feels heretical to make such a statement. But it’s true.
This doesn’t please me. To find myself as some sort of photographic misanthrope isn’t really where I want to be. Yet – I look at these pictures and all I feel is an indifference and coldness. They don’t speak to me.
Perhaps if nothing spoke to me, I would worry. But the work of the greatest photographers does. Not perhaps the readily trotted out Ansel Adams’s of this work, but renowned but maybe lesser known artists such as Cindy Sherman and Garry Winogrand. Looking at photography books by these artists (Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” usually tops my list) is reassuring. Reassuring not least because many of these photographs would not fare well in today’s online ‘like and love’ environment.
I need thoughts like these as a kind of backup. A backup for a certain sense of disappointment that I get when I put up a photograph (such as the above “Girl and Seagull”) only to find it to be ignored or treated with indifference on the ‘like and love’ websites. Because part of me really wants that kind of recognition, shallow though it may be.
For “Girl and Seagull” remains one of my favorite photographs ever. One I regard as one of my very best. A feeling that has not wavered in the face of indifference over the years since I took it.
I need to remind myself of this from time to time. I’m only human after all.