I received one piece of hate mail this morning about the Leica M8 post below, from some (probably young) fool who no doubt sacrificed to buy himself an M8 in the mistaken belief that it would make him, or mark him as, a superior photographer. It made me think again of something that crosses my mind from time to time—that nobody owns photography. I don't, and you don't, and nobody else does either. Expert, initiate, artist, longtime professional with a list of clients as long as your arm—doesn't matter. You can't accomplish enough to insulate you from everyone's contempt, or to secure universal acclaim. Elliott Erwitt doesn't like the work of Ansel Adams. Ansel probably had to look at more total garbage than most people knew existed before the internet came along, although he was at least wise enough not to talk about it. (Ansel also innocently enabled a lot of gurus who thought they owned photography, too, once they'd digested what he knew.)
I'm reminded of P. H. Emerson sending medals to young photographers in his old age, thinking to encourage them, when all he actually did was mystify them: who is this old crank and why is he sending me this? Or Bob Schwalberg, just before his death, wandering the floor at Photo East to see if anybody remembered the thousands of articles he had written over many decades, years before. (I did, and he and I had a nice long conversation. But a lot of peoples' response was: Bob who? Schwalberg, I overheard him say, don't you know me?) I always envied Tod Papageorge, and it turns out he has long felt ignored. Whoever you are, however great your accomplishment, however much you know, you're no arbiter of everyone else. You're just another one of a great legion of practitioners of every possible description, none of whom depends on anyone else's approval except by volition.
And, if nobody owns photography, nobody can buy it, either. Sorry if negative reviews of your precious security blanket offend you, young man, but insulting other people is not a good way of raising yourself up, and the mere ownership of any kind of camera is never going to make you a photographer in anyone's eyes but your own.