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Shenzhen Economic Daily Interview, 2007 (a)

I have always imagined my own “average reader” as a reasonably educated and literate member of the general public, broadly interested in cultural issues. Of course I sometimes write specifically for, and am read by, people who work professionally in the arts, and for the audience for contemporary art. But I would not want to have my own writing restricted to that segment of the population, and I don’t think the public discussion of photography should be limited to its function as an art form. […]

What Makes One Photo Worth $2.9 Million? (2007)

[Checking the news this past December 12, I learned from Forbes that “On December 9 PRNewswire announced that Australian photographer Peter Lik sold a photograph entitled ‘Phantom’ for a record-setting $6.5 million. ‘Phantom,’ now the world’s most expensive photograph ever sold, was shot in a subterranean cavern in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon.” (See Rachel Hennessey’s report, […]

Time Capsule 1973: Collier’s Encyclopedia Yearbook

Rereading this encyclopedia entry on the year 1973 in photography at a remove of four decades, I find it pleasantly surprising to see what a diversity of issues I managed to address (even if fleetingly) in the stripped-down style mandated by the encyclopedia’s editorial guidelines. Some of the ideas alluded to here in miniature would ripen into substantial future essays: on the autobiographical mode in photography, censorship in photographym, and the definition and integrity of the body of work. […]

Whither World Press Photo? (2)

World Press Photo was founded in the Netherlands in 1955 — not coincidentally, the year in which Edward Steichen’s extravaganza, “The Family of Man,” made its debut as a traveling exhibit and a catalogue. That enormously influential show and book undoubtedly exerted a considerable influence on the way that the WPP exhibitions took form when they began. That influence can still be felt today; the individual images for the most part reiterate the classic tropes of that era, the show itself collects and sorts its contents into little more than a yearly variation on the Steichen model. […]