I found this article recently in a book called ‘FotoLog’ – I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
‘PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS ARE NOT BLURRY!’ the purist shouts, screwing his SLR onto a tripod as he lines the family up for a portrait. ‘Red-eye is ugly!’ he recites, swivelling the flashgun so it bounces off the ceiling. ‘Wide-angle lenses make your nose look big!’ But there a are a few gaps in the purist’s impressive photographic knowledge. He doesn’t know that Terry Richardson shoots magazine covers with a cheap compact camera, that Ryan McGinley makes red-eye sexy, or that Wolfgang Tilmans won the Turner Prize with images containing flaring, blurring and camera shake.
Instead of making the medium as neutral and transparent as possible, both amateur and art photographers play around with the inherent qualities of film, lenses and light, transforming flaws and failures into pleasures, coaxing innovations of error.
You could try telling the purist what happened when Picasso met a sceptic on the train. The man asked why the artist couldn’t make his paintings more realistic. Picasso looked puzzled. ‘But what would a realistic portrait look like?’ he asked. The man produced a photograph of his wife. Picasso peered at it intently, then said, ‘Is your wife really so small and flat?’
– I loved the article and this has essentially always been my argument with photographic purists. I’ve never felt that a photograph has to be technically brilliant, to be a brilliant photograph.