I am often overwhelmed by the volume of talent that is out there. Much of it contemporary. By young-ish photographers. Of course, many of them do not have documentaries made about them, yet, but may be interesting nevertheless.
You seem to be drawn to the somewhat dysthymic types of artists. Have you looked into Sally Mann? I'm just discovering Eggleston in any depth, prompted by the recent NYT interview with him. He's got a recent high quality trio of books titled Chromes ($300) and there is an 8 part (?) series on him by the BBC which can be found on YouTube:
I have not seen it yet.
Yes, I think that a rather dim view of life and humanity becomes par for the course, unless you are very young or innocent.
On the other hand, this may not be the main thing that leads one there; even stronger a force is a lifetime in professional art, whether paint, pencil, design, photography, music, or whatever. The measures of worth/success are random, arbitrary, and that makes for serious spiritual problems, if not mental ones - I believe there's a distinct distinction.
You see, even success, as such, isn't often enough to bring contentment: there is always the danger of self-doubt, brought on by the tiniest incident, remark or even an observation of one's own. Am I really any good? Are my clients just idiots who, did they know better, would hire somebody else? Would Joe Bloggs have done it better? What is better? Did I pick the wrong models? Is my mojo coming back? Has it gone or was it even ever here?
I suspect any artist who claims never to have had these moments is being econmical with his self-revelation. As I wrote when I came in, I feel that only a young person can go through a part of life without doubt. I don't think I had professional doubts when I began, and the ones that came later were not exactly about myself, but very much about the people for whom I did shoots. Some few were fantastic, but some were a minefield of insincerity. No wonder some folks end up unable to cope with the enormity of it, and take the quick way out. I say enormity, because unlike some other occupations, it's personal (photography), deeply personal; why else would one take it on? On top of that, an artist can't really hide behind retirement; retirement usually means one thing: the 'phone stopped ringing. I can't think of another reason why one would quit, unless it's about health, economics and the problem of work costing you more than you can get back. I found that towards the end of my time shooting stock. So one not so much retires as withdraws.
Thank God there is also the "amateur" side of photography, where if you ignore the model world and its costs, you can still enjoy your self-expression. Digital makes a lot of that possible in later life.
Sally Mann I have known about for a long time; I was originally in two minds about her insofar as the pix of her kids are concerned, but I have concluded that she did it all in good faith, and didn't let other people take a hand at doing the same with them (AFAIK!). That would have been something very else. But her photography is much wider in scope than that.
Eggleston isn't one of my favourites. I think he does the odd nice picture, but more often than not, of what I've been able to see, I think he just snaps the first thing that he stumbles across. But that may just be economic envy on my part, even I can't really tell.
For me, the problem with young contemporary snappers is that I'm not in love with their world. The same is true about young fashion photographers; I far prefer looking at stuff from the older guys that I knew about in my own day. For many, time has not made them irrelevant, just very expensive!