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diplomas vs awards

I often find quite amusing the comparative reading of, say, German and English photo mags.

Germans are notoriously obsessed with their academic titles – and accordingly, this will be one of the first items of information dispensed in German photo mags about whichever photographer happens to have a feature (which photo/art school he graduated from, which professors he studied with, etc.).

The English care much less about this – but awards on the other hand are things of importance, and hence, whenever possible, an “award-winner” will be duly recognised as such. Which awards, given when and by whom, is of completely secondary importance, and such a question would be very incongruous indeed, if not downright rude.

Both – diploma, award – are of course meant to be proxies for talent, and for the presumed photographic/artistic merit of the work produced.

No proxies are perfect, and these are as good, or as imperfect, as any other.

The question, though, is why we should really need proxies at all in such a context.

If you’re the editor of a photo mag and you like, and want to publish, a particular photographer, then go for it – and who really cares whether he studied with Tom, Dick or Harry, or is the “award-winner” of completely unspecified awards ?!

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