Kick over the statues! Are the icons of photography still relevant?

I think that it is a shame that the historical photographers to whom you refer are not as widely known about as the musicians in your metaphor.

I can only recall having heard of David Bailey (through the advertising of Olympus in the 1970’s) and also unsuprisingly of Lord Lichfield. I was vaguely aware of Norman Parkinson and Cecil Beaton, but they are the only photographers that I can recall from my lifetime of education and general knowledge while growing up into my fifties when my studying of photography began.

The question should surely be, how do we get these names as well known as Beethoven, Bach, Elgar, Bowie et al.? Retrospective exhibitions such as those at larger Galleries will only attract those already interested in the Arts. I willingly admit to being uninterested in painting, and yet since beginning my photographic studies I have found myself looking more at paintings by the likes of Constable, Turner, and admiring their use of light, because I understand light more through photography. I will now look at portrait painting, and try to understand the posing more. I look at paintings and sketches of paintings in progress and find it fascinating to see how the artist ended up with their finished piece of work.

This all feeds back into my own photography. I will never make a living from photography, I don’t want to, but I do want to make the best images I can make, and this is all informed by the past.

I think that this begins with education in young childhood. Children’s television, art programmes in schools, a rounded arts education to include art of all genres including photography, giving active examples of the art being spoken about and the opportunity to experiment with the same genre at an appropriate level. Good programmes inspire children to believe that they can do it too, they will look into subjects further and may even inspire their parents to do so too.

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