For those of you who are familiar with Luminous Landscape, and the articles and comments from the owner of this site, I think it`s obvious that Michael Reichmann has an ability to integrate several passions into, I would certainly not say ONE passion, but into a particular "practice", or "modus operandi", that you won`t find anywhere else on the net. And this "practice" is, i believe, one source of the recent confusion and doubt, about whether we can trust the reviews at LL, or if they may be influenced by certain companies.
Think about it for a moment. – And Michael Reichmann, I hope you`ll forgive me, when I now talk about someone I do not know personally. The one I am talking about, is not the "real" Michael Reichmann, but the the M.R. that appears on my screen at Luminous Landscape.
That person has a handful of talents:
1) He is a good photographer.
2) He is a good writer.
3) He is curious about some of the latest equipment available.
4) He is a childish pixel peeper with a lot of technical knowledge, and is excited about some very expensive gear (but also a lot of inexpensive gear).
4) He is also intelligent enough, and experienced enough, to know perfectly well that even the worst equipment can become a wonderful tool in the right hands.
5) He is gifted with a certain "social intelligence", and can count a lot of – not only photographers and writers on photography – but also important figures in the hard- and software world, among his friends.
6) He has a pedagogical talent (with a lot of knowledge that he has the passion to share with others – which is the definition of having a pedagogical talent).
So - what would you do, if you were in his shoes?
Let´s say that you`ve allways been dreaming about travelling to a certain destination, to take those fabulous pictures. So why not arrange an expedition, and teach photography to some happy students on the road, at the same time as you`re hunting for those perfect scenes?
And why not use two brand new cameras while you`re hunting?
And why not bring with you some wonderful new lenses, a new tripod and some beta-tested software? Then you can mail pictures while you`re taking them, report on the equipment you used to store your image files while you were on the road, and at the same time write notes for a few articles about the new cameras, lenses, and software, published some days after you`re back.
And why not use a new Canon camera, since you`ve been using Canon cameras for years? Isn`t this the equipment you`re familiar with, which will give you the opportunity to compare, evaluate and make sound, balanced judgements in your next review on LL, based on years of experience?
And why not some Adobe software, as you happen to travel with some friends from Adobe? Or why not a Leica camera, since you know their stuff since you started taking pictures with a range finder during the 1960`s?
Or, since you`re curious, why not something else? Something different? Why not a challenger? What about Aperture for file management and Raw processing? Or a new, promising printer or some high quality paper for output. Or a small company challenging the big ones with a radical new consept? Why not?
Enough. But you see my point? A method of combining passions, talents, equipment, curiosity, knowledge and experience into something that both pays the bills and makes Luminous Landscapes into something that simply wouldn`t be there if Michael Reichmann wasn`t there. Working hard, and probably having an interesting time while he`s working.
And the result?
Something bigger than M.R.: Luminous Landscape, with all the contributing photographers, in ways that he is not able, and perhaps not willing to control.
Me think that M.R. has succeded in making peace with a lot of contradictions within himselfs: a passion for art, and a passion for teaching; a passion for art (again), and a passion for equipment that goes beyond what someone need for their art; a critical eye, and a passion for independence in writing, and also plenty of friends connected to big companies. Etc. Etc.
And it isn`t surprising that this modus operandi is a permanent source of reactions, pointing in a lot of directions: from admiration to envy, from enthusiasm to suspicion, anger and hostility, and often a mixture of all of them.
I don`t think that Michael Reichmann is perfect. But I have no reason to think that he`s in the pocket of a certain company. Basically, I think he´ve found certain ways of combining his interests and passions, that will never become 100 % transparent for anybody (not even himself or his friends!), because his method, his drive and (perhaps a bit pretentiously said:) the whole eco-system that we call Michael Reichmann (and Luminous Landscape) is rather idiosyncratic.
Like most of the members and readers of L.L. – from those who defend M.R. as a God, to those seeing him as someone involved in The Big Conspiracy. And the rest of us, who are somewhere in the middle, blaming or defending him on a more human scale. But who, at the same time, can share an astonishing amount of knowledge and experience with each other.
Perhaps time will tell if Michael Reichmann is a great photographer or not. Or perhaps time will not tell anything about that, because what we call "time" is an abstraction, containing a lot of historical, ideological, economical, and other idiosyncrasies and temporary circumstanses. And because we all witness a flood of images, floating into the net and the galleries, and nobody knows which images will be remembered, and which will sink and be forgotten. Perhaps he would be a better photographer, or writer, if he concentrated on one thing at the time? Who can tell? My point is that MR skillfully manage to combine his many talents (which to a certain degree, at least for a most of us, contradict each other), into what I called a certain "practice". And when some future historican looks into the transition from film to digital, Luminous Landscape will be a valuable source.
And for us? I would suggest that we should continue to praise and blame him on a human scale. And use Luminious Landscape as a source of knowledge, human experience and expertice. There is no other place like this one.