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If you haven't heard, Czech photographer Joe Klamar was recently sent by AFP to get shots of the U.S. Olympic team at a press photo op, and the result was some outstandingly bad portraits of the athletes.
This created a huge media and online brouhaha, with general disbelief at how bad the images were and speculation over just what went wrong. There were also lots of other photographers whining angrily that they could have done a better job.
But by far the most interesting reaction was that the images were bad on purpose. This view was surprisingly widespread. In essense, this camp felt that the images just had to be some sort of wry commentary on the Olympics or media celebrity, and were, in fact, works of subversive genius. AFP even publicly defended the images using the 'misunderstood genius' argument!
Of course, the images aren't brilliant. My guess from the beginning was that Joe Klamar had simply been pressed for time at the shoot. That turns out to be, more or less, correct. (And no, I'm not the only person who guessed the truth.)
The actual explanation is really beside the point though, the fascinating part is that so many people assumed that the images just had to be great. They assumed that because Joe Klamar is a famous photographer, and he was sent by a reputable media organization, and the images were released by big media outlets. It's a classic example of the Emperor's New Clothes effect. It's not a very flattering glimpse into the way the human psyche actually works.
UPDATE: It all gets funnier: now Joe Klamar is also claiming his Olympic images are misunderstood masterworks, worthy of exhibition. Oh, boy.