A.D. Coleman of nearbycafe makes the following observations:
'the well-made photograph' I use that phrase not as praise but in a derogatory sense, to describe a recurrent type of photograph produced according to strict, if unstated guidelines' 
'These pictures and projects resemble each other to such an extent that, with minor adjustments, the images, their accompanying texts, sometimes even the project statements, are hot-swappable and interchangeable.' 
'the well-made photographs' reiterate the same elementary formal structure :
- primary subject receives central placement and largest object in frame
- primary subject is addressed frontally and head-on
- primary subject is closest to the picture plane within the frame and in sharpest focus.
- primary subject contains the most intense highlights
In effect many photographers are working to a template, albeit tested and used by many classic photographers and painters of the past. He suggests once you're aware of this formula, you will see it umpteen times in galleries everywhere. A.D. Coleman  who has written this article goes on to suggest there is homogeneity with project conception too which he calls the 'well-made project':
- it manifests itself with some documentary or sociological premise
- identify a literal subject matter
- photograph them in their own environments and photograph 40 examples of your chosen subject matter (preferably using the image-structure template described above)
- transcribe interviews with them or get them to write their own stories to accompany the images.
In his words, his reasons for such a pervasive homogeneity is:
- draft an artist's statement explicating the significance of what you've chosen to point your camera at.
the vast majority of photography projects I encounter nowadays seem to represent some welling-up of archetypes from the collective unconscious of the academically indoctrinated.Alarming?
In fotosavant, it suggests that photographic instructors tread a fine line between teaching process and mechanics, and encouraging a particular aesthetic. The danger being that students are too keen to follow/copy/imitate the work of their teachers and teachers in danger of creating disciples. It is augmented further by curators and gallerists. The outcome being that those who 'stray from the laid path will usually find themselves derided and shut out of the discussion'.
Joerg Colberg speaks less pointedly about this, however, in his post he makes three observations I wish to raise:
- I do think that collectively, photographers are currently suffering from a curious lack of artistic ambition.
- There is just so much photography online, and of course that makes it seem as if there was a problem. After all, unless you're lacking any sense of taste, by its very nature most of what you'll encounter will be not what you like. So regardless of what it is you like, it seems as if there was a flood of junk out there.
And I think Colberg's observations can someway answer the predicament identified by A.D. Coleman. The internet means we can and are likely to see much of the photography out there, good, bad and otherwise, with a certain amount of fetishisation and 'trending' occurring as a result. Students globally have access to the same level and quantity of information and it seems the student body, as a mass, is processing the information and producing formulaic work as a result. How should we, as students, respond to this? Why do we lack artistic ambition? What is the alternative other than the formulaic? A few thoughts that come immediately to mind:
- I do sense that there appears to be a growing discontent with photography online.
- look beyond the internet and contemporary photography for inspiration
- now alerted to the template, be aware of it...I have certainly produced 'formulaic work' according to this definition. Consider the alternatives.
- whilst looking at the work of the elite photographers, be aware not to 'imitate' or copy them
Referencing Colberg's last point about a growing discontent of photography online, I think this is perhaps another fundamental issue for us developing photographers. The online presentation of images and the dearth that there is out there is causing fatigue to the observer and the maker. The photographs are quick, digestible snacks when viewed on screen. And when the photograph is a 'product', it becomes more substantial.
- forge your own path
I have heard Clive White mention this on numerous occasions and have recently read this article by Blake Andrews. And therein lies part of the solution possibly. Whilst on the internet the image remains 'data', as a 'tangible thing' it becomes 'information' and as such a desirable object. Whilst some photographers are returning to the traditional methods of photography and production to create this 'worth' in their work such as wet-plate collodian, film...whether looking back is the way forward I'm not sure but I do think considering the production options of photographs will become an increasingly critical aspect of our work.
So, there goes another morning of housework...I'm sure this housewife would have been sacked many times over!!!