NY Times magazine on flickr: fail

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In an article about Flickr by Virginia Heffernan (“Sepia No More” in the New York Times Magazine), she bemoans what she sees as the dominant aesthetic on Flickr:

As art-school photographers continue to shoot on film, embrace chiaroscuro and resist prettiness, a competing style of picture has been steadily refined online: the Flickr photograph. …the most distinctive offerings, admired by the site’s members and talent scouts alike, are digital images that “pop” with the signature tulip colors of Canon digital cameras.

She then ends with disappointment in the site because “…none of it looks like Diane Arbus or Henri Cartier-Bresson, the photographer many critics still consider the greatest of all time.”

To me, the site’s most popular photos are as good as or better than most magazine photography. Flickr members have created large amounts of quality work from the willingness to love and critique each other’s work and newly available decent equipment. This is work that would otherwise not exist if not for the site, a strong contribution to popular culture.

It’s hard to believe that Ms. Heffernan would confuse popular culture with incandescent art in the offline world; why does she try to mix the two up on the Web?

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