Something I love about photography is that it is so specific to time. What makes an image remarkable to the viewer, is most likely different than the reason the photographer took it. The collector buys a piece because they like it. The photographer makes the image for many different reasons.
A few months ago, we had an artist come talk at the gallery that I work at. She talked about her work, her process, her inspiration, etc. In the midst of the audience was a person who had previously purchased her work. I think when he heard her speak so frankly about her work, which has a strong documentary element, he became a little unsettled about his purchase. Now this is all speculation, based on my observations, but I think he may have liked his piece less.
At the end of the lecture, he asked how she felt about people like himself, who have purchased her work, who aren’t “getting” what she had just communicated about the picture. This opened up the debate about artist’s intentions and reading art. I loved the debate and the struggle this collector was facing. As a person who digests a lot of photographic work, I know that the stories that I create while looking at images are often misrepresentations of the work’s intended purpose. Every viewer has an independent experience with the work. They take their own history, the image in front of them, and implement a story or narrative to connect the two. It’s an unspoken dialogue between the artist and the viewer.