Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/09/08

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Subject: [Leica] Suddenly Susan?
From: John Collier <>
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 2000 08:41:52 -0600

I, fortunately, have read the writings in question which originated in a
series of articles for the New York Review of Books. The collected essays,
published as "On Photography", won the National Book Critics' "Circle Award
for Criticism" in 1977. Susan Sontag, along with Janet Malcolm and others,
seem to be vilified by photographers for trying to critically place
photography within the other art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.
They even had the "gall" to dismiss Ansel Adams' work as a continuation of
the very "pictorialism" that he and the "f64" people tried to rebel against.
A statement that I largely agree with.

Why do we photographers feel that only photographers can properly criticise
photography? We think of certain photographs as new or revolutionary which
are just mirroring somewhat dated trends in the current art world. We scorn
photographs that critics praise because the photograph's craftsmanship is
not up to our illustrious standards! We praise sentimental romantic fluff
because it is skilfully reproduced!

I could rant on and on but my point is that 99.99999% of photography on this
planet is not particularly significant to the various art movements and that
includes myself and most of this group. We enjoy recording the world around
us and have our appreciative, albeit captive, audience. Let's not get too
cocky because we can place a particular tone where we want it or because we
are adept at remembering to put the main subject off centre!

Disrespectfully yours :-)

John Collier

PS: I am presently reading, and enjoying, "Photograhy, A Middle-brow Art" by
Pierre Bourdieu :-)

> From: Walter S Delesandri <>
> Hi, Eric, and agreed....unfortunately, this wench was required
> reading in "art" school in the seventies and we
> have "new" gurus, equally inept, giving guest lectures and writing
> "scholarly" papers about everything BUT photographic issues....I can't
> attend most of our presentations because I couldn't keep my mouth shut
> or refrain from puking.
>> Sep 2000, Eric Welch wrote:
>> This woman should be banned from all discussion lists on photography! She
>> knows squat about what photography is about. Her book On Photography was an
>> excuse to spew her lame theories.
>> Now if you want me to tell you what I REALLY think, email me privately. ;-)
>>> On 9/7/00 5:07 PM, Robert Rose at wrote:
>>> In America the photographer is not simply the
>>> person who records the past, but the one who invents it.
>>> Susan Sontag