When I first began browsing on PN, I was curious to discover that many of the contributing photographers shared certain assumptions that I did not, possibly because my background is slightly different. Moreover, many of these assumptions are treated as axioms. I think it might be useful to consider whether these axioms really are unchallengeable, or whether they are just conventions. Ill phrase some of the following as personal statements, because its easier that way, but I intend to initiate a general discussion. I should make it absolutely clear that I am NOT suggesting that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong or that my approach is better than that of anyone else. On the contrary, I think that disagreement on such matters cn be the source of unexpected insights. I also don't claim to live up to the more grandiose pronouncements. 1) I am not interested in being an artist. I dont care if my images are art or not. What I would like to be is a critic in the broad sense of critically engaged, not the narrow one of someone who finds fault. 2) Intelligent or clever or complex are for me much more complimentary adjectives than beautiful. I regard formal beauty as a means to an end, not the end itself, and beautiful is not the same thing as visually interesting. In any case, great photographs themselves create the aesthetic criteria by which they should be judged. The career of Garry Winogrand is a good example of how this happens. 3) I dont care about making an emotional connection with my human subjects. Im not interested in them as individuals at all (and I have Walker Evans on my side here). Similarly, I dont want to use photography to express myself (or at least my emotions and again, Walker Evans is on my side). 4) Most PN photographers would agree with Robert Frank that a photo should nullify explanation, i.e. it should not require interpretation. Clarity is seen as a primary virtue. On the contrary, I like photos that are puzzles, that you have to work to solve, or that have more than one layer of meaning. 5) Following on from the last point, there seems to be an assumption that a photo that relies on words to get its meaning across is somehow inadequate. Again, on the contrary, I think its interesting to create photos that interact with written text, and that are deliberately conceived as being incomplete without it. 6) I dont think that the individual print on the gallery wall is the ideal presentation format. I find photobooks and sequences more interesting. This follows on from the above points, that a photo does not have to be a self-contained, single statement. 7) The editors of Lenswork magazine frequently repeat the maxim, 'A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print'. On the contrary, many great photographs thematize their own construction as photographic representations. Just think of the work of Lee Friedlander. The trick is to do this without being vulgar about it (e.g. using extreme wide-angle lenses, etc.).