I often find myself drawn to the same themes in photography: introspection, identity and adolescence but, I particularly like photographers who consider colour and composition in the sequence of their images. The majority of the fine art books I buy are by American artists and include some kind of iconography in their work (Stephen Shore, Mitch Epstein) though this isn’t something I intentionally look for, at least not at a conscious level. Often I make a conscious effort to seek out projects that address ‘uglier’ issues, like for example Leia Abril’s “The Epilogue” or James Nachtwey’s series on the American opioid crisis.
As a society I think we have a tendency to give praise to nice-looking photographs, to the extent that we ignore other impactful but less aesthetically pleasing work. On Instagram we reward sunsets, pristine-looking landscapes and superficial snaps our friends took at famous landmarks with millions of likes, but the wildfires in Australia continue to rage on and photographs continue to be made there. It’s probably indicative of the way we choose what to care about, filling our lives with only content that makes us happy instead of work that focuses on other more pressing issues, or even the media’s influence on what we take an interest in.
Though I think it’s important not to focus on the process by which photographs are made (as is often the case in the fine art world), it’s important that we give credit to photographs that resonate with us emotionally, not merely focusing on their subject matter, but recognising technical or creative merit.