I have to admit that I have returned to this image on more than several occasions trying to figure out how to properly frame how I feel about this image without sounding either pompous or like a jackass. Hopefully I can explain myself effectively so indulge me for a bit, if you will.
On the surface, this image does nothing for me, personally, and that should be okay. Not everyone can connect with every image posted. If people did, it would make being a professional photographer so much easier. Yet, as I mentioned, I kept coming back to this image because it does have a certain something that I just couldn't place my finger on, until it hit me what it was, and I'll explain that later. First, I want to share my initial gut reaction to this image. Mind you, these are my subjective feelings and should not be taken as a slam against Frank's abilities as a photographer. We all know better than that, as evidenced by his other postings here on the forum.
On first viewing I thought this image was rather banal and seemed like an afterthought attempt to create something artistic from something so pedestrian. Particularly in the processing that, for me, failed at achieving its goal in enticing anything more than a second glance. Yes, I know how that sounds but, we have all had thoughts like these and, more unfortunately, have created images deserving of such harsh criticism. I know I have so let's reserve backlash for another time.
Then I thought... "what if this is meant as a sly prank to see how many attaboys a mediocre image can receive?" That would be brilliant! It was at that point that I stepped away without commenting to see where this image would go, and go it did. I prefer to think that Frank had a genuine desire to create something worthy of exploration with this image and that he did have a specific goal in mind when originally composing the image. I also stick to my original analysis and feel this image isn't as strong as all the praise give it credit for.
Am I missing something? Are others seeing something I am not? Why do they like it so much and I don't? Is everyone else just freer with their attaboys than I am? Then it hit me. I've seen this image before...
Well, not this image, to be fair, but many others by noted photographers who have also lauded such praise for a seemingly mediocre image. So what is the one thing I was missing? Historical perspective. I had been looking at this with the idea that Frank was attempting to create some highbrow piece of art from so pedestrian a subject. After all, we have all seen awe inspiring work of far less remarkable subjects by many great photographers.
Interestingly enough, I recently defended against this very same negative position with other naysayers on a similar topic elsewhere. A presenter was discussing composition in a video and using some works by Henri Cartier-Bresson as an example. He applied a variety of compositional grids to stress a point and someone commented to the effect of, "place enough lines on any image and you can make it fit into some form of composition," and that the presenter was, "over complicating matters." I felt the commentor was missing the presenter's point, much like I was missing the point of other's comments here.
Once that switch was triggered in my brain this image took on a whole new perspective for me and created a chain reaction of understanding. I came to appreciate its value more by seeing how the individual elements were more than the sum of its parts, as they say. As a study in technique and composition we have all been there. That is how we perfect our craft, by experimenting and, more importantly, by failing. But it was the historical aspect of this image that altered my thinking.
Here we have a door that has definitely seen it's share of years. The metal plate of the latch and lock give hint to its age. Contrasting that old feeling is the modern lettering on the glass and, more importantly, the vague view of the interior with its modern light fixtures and seemingly clean, spartan interior. Who knows how long the building will stand or how long the gallery will last (at this location at least). This is not an image for today but one for tomorrow and that's what I mean when I said, "I've seen this image before."
Look through any past notable photographer's body of work and you'll come across an image so full of historical nostalgia due to its age and relevance in which the value has advanced because of its attachment to the photographer's name. In other words, a snapshot that, because of content and context, has attained a higher value and not because of any technical merit.
Not to say Frank's image has no value, because it does. Just on a narrower level or on an emotional level (rather than monetary). Frank, for one, gives it value for the time and effort he put into creating it. The owner of the gallery may see value as it represents a current view of his establishment. Others involved with the photographer or the gallery or the neighborhood may also see value in this image. The further one gets from any of these elements, though, the lower that value becomes. That is why I was unable to see that value. I was too far removed from it to see it for what it was. To appreciate it for its content and intent rather than any artistic merits.
So, for me, it was a lesson learned. Just because I could not see the image's value up front doesn't mean it's not there.
Hopefully I've explained this well enough and that you (Frank) realize this is not any form of disrespect towards your image and...
...as usual, this is only my two bits.
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."