State of the Art – A Look Forward

“You don’t have to know the story, but you do have to know there was a story. Some stories are silent, while others are long, funny pieces that demand explanation. And while a stack of photos won’t replace a life, it does complement it, enrich it, and preserve it.” – Rick LePage

Know and Tell

Over the past year or so I’m constantly reminded of this written of Charles Dickens –
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”
For me that pretty much sums up where we are as professional photographers today.

I don’t think every image needs to be a story — it can simply be a moment. A moment that doesn’t have the expectation of a story or even part of a story. It’s simply a moment. Sure, it can be an epic moment— fleeting, delightful, something to indulge right then and there. Easily digested, satisfying and economical on the mind.

Left of center, right of center. As long as I can remember young photographers have resented the old card and older, experience photographers have presented the new guard.

“Looking forward,
All that I can see,
Is good things happening
to you and to me.
I’m not waiting,
For times to change.
I’m going to live,
Like a free-roamin’ soul,
On the highway of our love.”
-Neil Young

“Art does not transform anything, it does not change the world, it does not change reality. What really transforms the artist, whilst advancing, transforming and completing his modes of expression, is himself. And it is this man, transformed by art, who can attempt to transform reality through life.” — Jorge Oteiza

Live from Daryl’s House- Episode 60: Joe Walsh

Taking a cue from the title of his latest album, Analog Man, Joe Walsh criticizes the “digital recipe” of most pop music today, explaining, “It’s all about the magic of a human performance.”

Records, record stores, record sales… it’s all gone and it’s up to the young musicians to try and figure it out. There’s no money in it. There’s no record companies. It’s free! You can download it. Nobody gets paid so they can’t afford to make music. That’s what’s happening.

They’re just cranking out music that is like a recipe. Nobody’s playing at the same time. Everybody’s adding on virtual instruments that don’t exist onto a drum machine that somebody programmed. And you can tell, in the music that’s out now. It’s all been programmed. There’s no mojo. There’s nobody testifying. There’s not the magic of a human performance, which is never perfect. And the magic of a human performance is what we all know and love in the old records. By the way they were made. And it’s all gone. So we’ll see what the digital age has in store.


I think photography is stronger and better than ever before. Those of us who are photographers, the difference between us and everyone else is that we take what we do very seriously. There was a wonderful article in the New Republic that said photography came along long before there were cameras. We were always trying to capture the fleeting image. Photography came along long before we had the equipment. What is going to happen now is that we are the sensitive matter. You, the photographer, are the sensitive matter. What makes an impression on you is what will been seen. In this day and age of things moving so, so fast, we still long for things to stop, and we as a society love the still image. Every time there is some terrible or great moment, we remember the stills.

In her seminal essay On Photography, Susan Sontag writes:

“Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.”

“For whatever you’re doing, for your creative juices, your geography’s got a hell of a lot to do with it,” he said. “You really have to be in a good place, and then you have to be either on your way there or on your way from there.” Neil Young

“When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.” ~Kevin Kelly

(Rod Jewell) I just feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of good or pseudo-good photography. I used to pride myself on my ideas. I don’t think even they carry any currency now and even if they do – who bloody cares and who is even interested? The onslaught of imagery in everyone’s day to day life now is so congestive, what really gets through? And to that end – what lasts more than 20 seconds in anyone’s mind. I am finding it harder and harder to justify making any effort whatsoever to create anything in photography – the space is just so overflowing.

Interesting comment from Keith Richards during the week when asked at the opening of the cultural tribute exhibition to the Stones in London, about anyone else replicating what they have achieved – he just said “good luck”. Jagger went further commenting to the effect that of course others will conquer but when they did it, there wasn’t a lot of competition, so of course it was easier to stand out. Isn’t photography like that now too? Just another over subscribed industry. I pity the great up and coming musicians who never make it despite having absolutely sensational songs which would have shot them to number one around the world 40 years ago and made them superstars. Again – that industry is just a machine now too.

Selling the Dream

“Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.” The times we’re living in are certainly character building. Things are changing faster than

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