(Note: This was also written in response to Thiago's question, now reproduced above. —MJ)
Is art just a matter of taste? Isn't it all just subjective?
I can't answer those questions definitively, of course, but I've always felt it's somewhat similar to sexual attraction. There's rough agreement in the culture or among friends as to who's hot and who's not, but in the end, attraction is a very individual chemistry thing; same with art. Some people have very strong feelings, some don't; same with art. Some people are very picky, some not so much. Same with art. Some people want to learn all they can while others don't see the slightest point in that; same with art. Some people just can't get enough, some people aren't as concerned. Same with art. Some are voyeurs, others just want to participate. Some people have enormous experience and expertise, others are clumsy and have limited experience—neither is "better" than the other, as long as your own situation works for you, but there's no denying they're different. Same with art. Some people have very idiosyncratic taste; some people just care about what other people think; some people feel it's important to be conventional; some like to go along with the current styles and others like to buck the trends; some find something that works for them very early and stick with it their whole lives. Some people are downright kinky, and what they like offends other people. And so on. I'd argue that all of this has rough parallels to our reactions to art, our feelings toward it.
I've always seen our relationship to art as a sort of tug-of-war between unmoderated personal response (which is not as easy as it seems, because as a species we care very much what other people think of us and how we're being perceived) and what we can learn from connoisseurship and delectation and listening to the opinions and judgments of others. On the one hand it's just "this I like, this I don't" and on the other, you make yourself open to investigation and susceptible to being convinced by the art, its spread and reach and how it works. Both parts are important, in my view. With sushi, the Japanese talk about the balance between the fish and the rice; too much fish, the fish "wins"; too much rice, the rice "wins." In considering this yin-yang of "immediate response" and "deliberate connoisseurship," you want them to stay in balance, I think. Both are important, and both should be cultivated, but neither one should "win."
In the end, though, I think art satisfies an appetite. If I don't hear music for a week, I crave it. I crave taking, and looking at, pictures—I dream about shooting, even. If I haven't recently looked at enough pictures of the kind that please me, I feel the same sort of need as I feel when I'm deprived of music—I'll go out and find something to look at. I "read" photo books again and again like some people revisit favorite films or novels.
Your feelings might change, too, and you need to be open to that. You can fall into love with someone you've known for a long time as a friend, or fall out of love with someone you were once passionate about. You don't have to like the same pictures your whole life.
And you're not obligated to like every "good" photographer's work any more than you must think every movie star is attractive. You may have a "type" of photography that gratifies you most consistently, just like a man might prefer tall women or a woman might like deep voices. But keep an open mind. Don't be intolerant of others. Let your taste evolve, or your involvement deepen. Follow the glimmers of light from distant windows. Learn what you can about yourself, and the objects of your affection.