One of the most difficult things to do when creating art is to get the hell out of the way. The art of photography has a leg up on, say, writing, when it comes to minimizing editorialization. Many—myself included—would argue art is all about the artist injecting the self into the art. No argument against that here. It’s a question of how much and how well-crafted the editorialization is, and how well it strikes a compelling balance with the subject matter. The success of these two individually and in harmony enable us to love the art or quickly forget the art.
It’s not an unreasonable statement to claim the art of documenting something with a camera lands slightly closer to an idealized bullseye of pure objectivity than interpreting the same thing with dance or music or painting. Photographers have almost countless tools at their command to force a narrative on every image they produce. Whether you are Tim Wolcott on your hands and knees in a field with a series of framing cards or Mary Ellen Mark directing subjects while street shooting or anyone applying Curves to an image in Photoshop, photographers make viewers see what they want us to see. The very presence of imposing a frame on any scene edits the rest of the world out of the subject matter. This is editorializing the art of taking a photograph, and with that act, the artist has injected their subjectivity into the shot.