Nigel Shafran, from Visitor Figures. Not selected for the V&A’s Annual Review
“For those who like that sort of thing,” said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, “That is the sort of thing they like.”
― Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
I have recently been writing quite a lot about how we could possibly set standards by which to judge photographs. It is not just a recent preoccupation; it’s one I’ve been gnawing away at for a long time. Put very simply, I recognize the absurdity of applying any one family of criteria to all photographs (and the arrogance of any one person setting themselves up to do that). But do we really have so little common ground in judging them, torn between all the hundreds of different criteria that could apply, that we have to make a profound revelation of ourselves as users of pictures before we can make even a moderate assessment of the pictures themselves ? Continue reading →
Frank Brangwyn, Preparatory study for the Skinners’ Hall Murals, c.1905.
In photography we have no or few shared standards. The camera club virtues (perfection in the craft skills of photography at the expense of any or every notion of expressiveness) are not by any means to be mapped to the virtues aimed at by the members of World Press Photo, artists working in photography, or professional wedding photographers.
It is not, in general, a very controversial thing to say that “we have standards”. It is not awkward to expect that some jobs are better finished than others.
Try to get a little more specific than that, though, and standards are fiercely difficult to apply. Continue reading →