I am continuously amazed at the “amateur” photography (reinforcing in me that sometimes the best work is work done out of a passion and love of doing it – not necessarily fame and fortune potential) . Some may be viewed on flickr for example, here’s just a sampling that I have noticed. By no means is this collection of “favorites” anything more than that, my personal favorites. And that’s the problem. The collection is really nothing more than a running tab of what catches my eye.. it varies from “just pretty”… to a few more images that start to stick in my mind…and begin to trigger deeper thoughts. I like the discovery though – it’s kind of photographic adventure – you never know what might turn up and what may inspire. This is the bad thing – it’s terribly fragmented and noisy with the only thread to my favorites the joy of looking and noticing…. I’ve established an arbitrary limit of 200 favorites to keep my appetite wet – and to foster a more critical eye upon what it is that I am noticing and liking and why….
A different kind of discovery and source of inspiration is being shared over on Alec Soth’s blog as an ongoing series of “underrated” photographers… Wonderful examples. This category of photographers is somewhat different than the ones you might find on flickr. The “underrated” are serious about their work – artists in that sense – these are photographers with something to say – but they may not have made it onto the “big screen” – and that’s not the important issue. Some simply don’t care to make the effort it appears to be “big time” – others maybe have not been good self promoter’s. It’s hard to say, but, it’s nice to see that someone such as Soth who is well recognized – and deservedly so – is of the mindset to search out those other bodies of work and point them out to all. Another wonderful thing about Alec’s collection of underrated photogs is the power to shape and therefor influence a certain kind of conversation amongst photographers – but it’s an open conversation and available to all.
All of this rambling is in part a recognition that photography is democratic medium (anybody with little means and the ability to push a button can potentially practice this art) as has been recognized by others and I suspect is a source of great inspiration to get others out doing better work. It’s made me think about where I am in my own efforts.
I like a good conversation – and what fun if held through photographs. A book I learned of through a post on Gallery Hopper and I just finished by Geoff Dyer called: “the ongoing moment” is an example of a constructed conversation through photographs. Of course this book is a collection of established work – meaning it has been recognized in an institutional sense – so it is a conversation of and about a genera of accepted (established) works. The wonderful thing is the connections and conversations imagined by Dyer that make the book a good read – it is itself a good source for inspiration – for amateur’s and it’s available (accessible?) to an even wider audience.
A point to all of this however: the value lies in making a judgement and establishing a criteria – a selection. This is paramount to the quality of the conversation !