In the field of photography there have always been "technical masters" who take it upon themselves to instruct all the unwashed masses of photographers in exactly how they should use their equipment to make photographs. Part of the faux pedagogical practice seems always to be the obsession that the students use the specific tools used by the "master."
The Professional Photographers of America more or less codified what they passionately thought should constitute a "good portrait" and taught generations of people how to slavishly copy their lighting, their techniques, their posing and, of course, suggested the appropriate cameras and lenses with which to make these cookie cutter pictures.
And in each generation the images that become iconic, and the images that are most appreciated, are the ones that break the rules, break convention and express a new way of looking at the external (and even internal) world.
A number of self proclaimed "masters," "experts" and "technical geniuses" have figured out how to market to the enormous pool of less experienced photographers who come to the web to learn about making photographs, selling them on a program of technical exceptionalism that has nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of great (or even interesting) photography. The "masters" spend weeks shooting charts and test still lifes. They "field test" the equipment and then rush back to their computers to stare at the images and make cultish pronouncements about the presence or absence of a lens's nano-acuity or a camera sensor's asymmetrical noise assimilation overfill resistance and they push people to feel as though they can't enjoy photography, or even do it properly, unless the masses surrender to the regimen of looking at the craft through the uncomfortable lens of the master's shared obsessive compulsive disorder.
Perhaps 2016 will be the year in which the self-appointed technocratic elite of photography gets generally ignored and people relax a bit and become more interested in how to make images that are new and different. Images that thumb their collective noses at a play book of rules, preconceptions and gear fetishism that is generally unhelpful.
I just looked at a book I was given for the holidays. It's some of the work of Sheila Metzner. She was a wonderful art and fashion photographer who worked in the previous century. She used a printing and shooting technique that yielded color saturated, grainy images that were the antithesis of the teachings of our modern techno-masters but most of images were beautiful and emotionally immersive.
The work of Deborah Turbeville also comes to mind as does the work of fashion photographer, Peter Lindbergh.
There are so many great role models in photography who made their marks without being slaves to technology. Might it be time to reject the pursuit of metric measures and replace them with interesting subjects, shot in a new and interesting way? Just a thought for the new year.
Watch out for those third order harmonics, especially when they mix with the hemholtz patterns.