Critics exist because people want to read them. Sad but true. Nothing new either - Vasari and Winckelman were continuing a tradition that was already old when Pliny was writing about Zeuxis and Appelles. They can have their uses though - though personally I may think most of his writings are tosh, where would American art have been without Clement Greenburg?
The origian lquopte (i think it comes from Oscar Wilde) is "Those who can,do. Those cannot, teach." As for the last part of your alleged famous quote Jeffery, you must have been think ing of Dr. Samuel Johnson's aphorism: "Only a blockhead writes for other than money."
</B> You can illuminate a discussion of Steiglitz's photograph "The Steerage" by a number of lights. Here are three:
Aesthetics. That is a consideration of the qualities of the thing (the original prints), the reproduction you are looking at if you don't haveaccess to he original print, and of course the formal elements of the image: framing, the photographic rendering of light, the relationship of elements inside the frame (composition), and how these add up to what some might call the "emotional gesture' of the image.
Social History. Why did the photographer think it was important to document the crowded conditions aboard this ship? What are the larger historical contexts the image must be considered (as a document of an event) within?
Photographic history. Not so simply put but: Why is this photograph famous? Who was Steiglitz? What, if any, effect did this photograph have on photography (and photographers) after the image was initially 9and continually thereafter) exhibited or distributed?
How do we interprete or evaluate it?How do we even judge it and based on what theory or critera? By our own lights and experiences. there is no grand unified theory that can contain all that can be said about an image, although Garry Winogrand's criteria of a grunted "humph" (a yes) or his dismissive snot is a pretty good approximation of a working UF!
"Is the artist's verbalisation to be taken into account?" Sometimes.
"Do critics have the last say about what they critique on?" Well for them they do, unless they later change their mind.
"The last few threads seemed to conclude that photographers should just present our photographs and "shut-up!" So as to leave the general audience to decide if the artworks appeal to them. Then what is the job (and justification for) of the critics?" The job of (and justification for) critics is to open minds (including sometimes the mind of the artist) to ideas or ways of thinking they might not have considered or been aware of before.(/B>