I’m thinking about photography more than normal lately, an upcoming post should explain why, and when I think about things I have to read about them. It’s a coping mechanism to help keep loud things quiet. Now, I’m reading Photography After Capitalism, and you should too, it’s great. Don’t get me wrong, like everything in the genera parts of it read like randomly generated postmodern nonsense. Fortunately, most of it is just very dynamic and original.
One section early on talks about Francis Hodgson and a distinction he draws between photographers and what he’s termed photo operators. It’s a method of addressing the photograph as art debate. I love it. The thing is though, I think there are only photo operators. Photographers are a popular delusion of the fine art market, everything making photographs is a photo operator and it’s simple and beautiful.
Like, Earthrise, is an amazing photograph. Is it art? Is William Anders a photographer because of it? Terry Richardson was an anointed photographer, now he’s just another Harvey Weinstein with a shorter (for now) list and literally indistinguishable from any amateur pornographer on the web. How about that random lady Vivian Maier? Well, how badly do you want to see some arty people fight? Ask them! Ever see one of those one-in-a-million shots where a bird blocks the number plate on a speed-trap or red-light camera? Is something like that a great photo, or would it be if a person took it?
The answer to all those questions, is simple, it doesn’t matter. All those photos exist because of photo operators.