Photography State of the Union - Yet Another Rant

DSC_0315v2.jpgI am always on the lookout for new photo publications that I might enjoy so you can imagine how excited I was when I learned of a new publication that sounded right up my alley. The synopsis went something like "A brand new photo magazine, each issue includes 20 unbound photographs from 20 photographers accompanied by essays on photography and interviews." Something like that.

I was thinking maybe a Lenswork kind of thing with a folio (a term coined sort of by Lenswork's publisher). Cool, considering Lenswork has been one of my favorite photography publications. If you have not seen an issue up close and personal you owe it to yourself to grab at least one issue. Anyway the new publication is called Lay Flat. I couldn't wait to subscribe, right up until I looked it up on-line and was underwhelmed, actually I was left flat.

After giving it a real chance. I mean this post is a full three weeks after I first looked at the promotional website. I have gone back numerous times to make sure that I wasn't in one of my "everything sucks" moods. I carefully considered every photograph linked to issue number one. I even carefully looked through all 20 photographers' portfolios on more than one occasion. I would call that giving it a chance. My big issue was total lack of diversity. Every single image from every single photographer could have been from any of them. In fact the entire collection could be a single "body of work" from any of the included photographers. Mix in that not one single image floated my boat in terms of subject matter, nuance, aesthetic or technical quality and I am left flat.

I am not saying that I did not find one image interesting but hey I love to go through my neighbors family photo albums too. I find them amazingly interesting and generally more coherent. Call me judgmental but I hope to god this does not represent the total lack of diversity in subject matter, approach, treatment, and certainly not the technical ability or aesthetic that artists now aspire to.

Bottom line the format is a great idea but is hopelessly hobbled by the publishers, editors, and self proclaimed "curators" (how much more pretentious can we get?) personal taste or lack there of not getting out of the way.

Love to here your thoughts on the matter.

RB

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