On television there's a political talk show-let's call it "The McDorklin Group"-that usually features something like one conservative, four Nazis, and one nice, mild-mannered lady from Newsweek. They sit around a table every week shouting at each other all at once and competing to see who can interrupt the token female in the most obnoxious way. The total effect always makes me itch to turn the sound off, until I realize that without the sound there's no point to the show at all. At the end of every show, McDorklin, the moderator, who has a gruff voice and a speech impediment, invites all of the participants to offer a short summary of their views on a particular topic of his choice offered in the form of a question. After they've all answered, everyone looks at McDorklin, who screams, "WRONG!!!" and proceeds to give the Word from on high. I think of this sometimes as I compile this site. Being the moderator, I can in effect "shout down" any opposing views, and it's tempting, sometimes. But seeing as I open the website to many contributors and commenters, I have to respect that they have their own points of view and there's nothing that makes mine any better than theirs. By keeping McDorklin in mind I can resist the temptation to-in effect-bellow "WRONG!!!" and steamroll opposing viewpoints. In this case, however, I'd like to offer one humble, simple thought about "kinks and fetishes" that Ctein brought up yesterday. And if you can't discriminate between the two, you're probably in trouble. I don't know about you, but I have very strong feelings about what I want my work to look like. Fetishes, kinks-you can also call such things values, if you want to. Or allegiances and guiding principles. You might label it "taste." (I've been calling them prejudices, in a recent series of postings, with a nod to Mencken.) And what good is any artist without strong views and distinctive taste? Not much, it seems to me. Aren't kinks and fetishes what allow artists to work? (As for Ctein's pink flower, methinks he doth protest too much. "Sue me"? Isn't that a tad defensive? I'm not gonna sue him, but perhaps he realizes deep down that the pink flower takes a shuffling half-step sideways into the cornfield.) I'm not above imposing my own prejudices on other peoples' random-ass pictures. After all, there's a reason why my values are values to me. But there's another side of this coin, and we need to be very aware of it if we want to get enjoyment from other peoples' work-and that's that you have to be willing to suspend your own prejudices and take other artists at their word, if you think they deserve it. Once I think somebody has their own thing to say, I'll try to push my own fetishes to the side and be open-minded to the work. It's always something to work on. But if you don't, how can you like anything but the same kind of thing you do yourself? And that's a pretty limited way to approach a whole medium. Many of them are landscapers and Nature photographers. I don do much of that and in fact when I am in the woods I almost never "see" photographs. I wonder if that would be quite different if I lived in the woods. I hold no views of what or how people should make photos, I just know what I like when I see it. I have watched that show since it onset. I think you (might) need to watch it more or for years to understand that you have him all WRONG!! Next time you watch and he McClaughlin, asserts that someone is WRONG please note the smile or smirk on his face. His is just another opinion and when he tells one of his guests they are wrong he is in fact making fun of and satirizing the whole notion of being RIGHT The world moves in such mysterious ways. I had to share an experience I had yesterday. It occured a few short hours after I finished reading this article (and many of the great comments that followed). I have been a lurker on a nature photography website for some time, never posting, and only sometimes commenting on a particular image which someone posted that I found I really liked. Anyway, yesterday for some unknown reason (planetary alignment, whatever), I decided to upload an image for the enjoyment (hopefully) of others. It was a scan from a 4x5 chrome that I taken over 10 years ago. I REALLY liked the image, on many levels, and hoped others would as well. Lo and behold, when I checked this morning, I was delighted to find that six folks had taken the time to comment on it. However, upon reading the comments, this gist of this article came racing back into my head, as five of the six posters felt the need to tell me how I could "improve" this shot by adding more sky, cropping out some of the foreground, brightening an area, etc. Here, I had been looking at this image for over ten years, feeling that it reflected the scene that I had "previsualized" (thanks, Ansel), but apparently it could be made into an even "better" image, if I adjusted it to look like an image that they taken.