Something interesting -- possibly good interesting, possibly bad interesting -- is going on here. I was very struck by the force and unanimity of the reaction -- not so much a debate as a public hanging. Even the usually reliable Mike Johnston saw it as an opportunity for a caption competition, not for reflection. I posted this comment on TOP (which I may live to regret):
I'm not immediately impressed by this image myself, but aren't you -- as a professional contrarian -- even a little bothered by the strength and unanimity of the negative response to it?
Think back to the reactions to f64, New Topographics, John Gossage, Paul Graham, Alec Soth... Almost always "Why, these aren't proper photographs! They're so banal!!"
For sure, I'm not saying this is an outstanding photograph -- it looks very ill-considered to my 56-year-old eyes -- but it is very typical of what some thoughtful young photographers are producing, perhaps in reaction to what us oldies hold dear about our photographs.
I think it's wise to try to stay open to the "Hendrix Moment" ("Coltrane Moment", if you prefer) -- when something new arrives that trashes certain expectations of a previous generation. This may or may not be such a moment.
I hope not, personally, but I'm reserving judgement until I understand what is really going on. I don't know about you, but my instinct is always to head in the other direction to the baying of the Flickr crowd...
I know, I can be an appalling elitist when it comes to photography, but why not judge the things you love by the highest standards? It doesn't seem to trouble football fans.
That "Hendrix/Coltrane Moment" is a precious and rare thing, worth looking and listening out for. As I've written before, if there's one thing I have learned, it is that -- unless you are living on the cutting edge yourself -- your eyes and ears are never ready for the genuinely new. You have to learn to learn from your discomfort.
You always have to ask, "Why don't I like something that someone else thinks is well worth my attention?" Sometimes arriving at an honest answer to that question will just end up confirming your own beliefs, but sometimes it will radically change your mind. "Free your mind and your ass will follow", as George Clinton would say.