A.D. Coleman
[Critic and writer, b. 1943, New York, lives in New York.]

 The simple fact is this: There are no neutral photographs. 
 Photographs are of course about their makers, and are to be read for what they disclose in that regard no less than for what they reveal of the world as their makers comprehend, invent, and describe it. 
 The past is always with us, in the form of our photographs, which we feel as we might a rosary, wearing them smooth with the fingering of our eyes. 
 What a photograph shows us is how a particular thing could be seen, or could be made to look—at a specific moment, in a specific context, by a specific photographer employing specific tools. 
 Any photographer worth his/her salt—that is, any photographer of professional caliber, in control of the craft, regardless of imagistic bent—can make virtually anything “look good.” Which means, of course, that she or he can make virtually anything “look bad”—or look just about any way at all. After all, that is the real work of photography: making things look, deciding how a thing is to appear in the image. 
 ... the battle for the acceptance of photography as Art was not only counter-productive but counter-revolutionary. The most important photography is most emphatically not Art. 
 We’ve spent now about 150 years trying to convince ourselves that photographs are reliable evidence, some unimpeachable slice of the real world. That was a myth from the very beginning. 
 More and more, lately, I’ve seen shows—not just in galleries, but even in museums—by young photographers hot off the press whose bodies of work have little to say and lack any distinction beyond their statistically unique amalgamations of facets of their mentors and other influences. In their early or middle twenties, they already have lists of exhibition and publication credits as long as your arm. Many have already been academically recycled and are actually teaching, thus perpetuating this syndrome. (1973) 
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