We see a lot of people interested on photography now a days and the most dedicated to it study a lot of thumb rules and conventions "in order to take good photos" as some says, but we could also say that is in order to be recognised or accepted as good photographers through established norms.
The problem with that is the packed learning, separating what is good and bad, like this in black and white. And among the most important is the context analysis which most people never study or have never been taught. It is not only among photographers but also among painters and many other people.
If we show people some of the most famous Cartier-Bresson photographs most of them will talk about how great are his shots. In fact, the film look and many of the composition arrangement are very agreeable to any eye. Yes, Cartier-Bresson was awesome if we look at the historic context of his photographs. Because of its historic context it has a historic meaning and importance. Despite it, there are many other photographers from the past and now a days who do as good or even better as Bresson used to do. But without an important context meaning it doesn't mean anything. And even with out knowing well Bresson's images context many people will love Bresson above all just because they were taught so.
But if we show a iconic Irving Penn's photograph to somebody who have not seen it yet, who have never heart about its context and above all have never been taught to like it? What would people say?
Hi Irv, I don't know what you were thinking here dude! You got a pretty model (altho kind of old), but you have caught her with her eyes cloes in a not very good pose. Biggest problem is YOU NEED CROP to a vertical!!!!! Backdrop is too small and there is not enough of a sweep so you can see the crease. If you send me a file I can fix it in Photoshop and I can give you my suggested crop. If you don't care aboout your PROFESSIONALISM you are never going to get work as a pro believe me!!! Hope I am not being too harsh. Oh well best regards anyway, M.H.
And this is very common to happen everywhere when people talk about the childish Picasso's style, about the messy Pollack's paintings or even when venerating Renaissance painting because of artist's reality copy skills, which doesn't mean the painting itself is that great when looking at its context. It also happens all the time in art and photograph communities where people show their work without telling a word about its concept and context.
Here is a example which I showed in a photography community and by purpose I didn't say anything about it. All I asked was if "there is anything people find annoying on it". Why? Because I wanted to find out how many people would bother by the face on shadow.
Of course there were some people (many less than I expected though) who mentioned about the face on shadow saying that I should had a light for it, not because it is wrong nor because her face matters but just because the convention says faces should be lit up.
The most interesting comments weren't about the face on shadow anyway but about the outfit. Most people didn't like it saying I should have chose a better wardrobe. Some others found strange the model's arm above her head as a sign of a bad modelling without knowing were to pose the arm naturally.
Of course sometime you can tell about the work context or concept by just looking at it and based on your past visual experiences. But often, even experienced eyes need more information about what they see in order to avoid judgement based on misunderstanding.