The bold quote made me think of one of the most expressive exhibitions I have ever seen (held in Prague). Done by blind children! So sensitive - great images....
I remember Sally Mann saying something about how she so didn't want to be too "good" in wet plate (the pouring part), as she was almost counting on the failures/mistakes on the plates...
But I also know W Moersch.... a true master in what he does, and I think his techniques helps him achieve his goals....
Photography is - or so it seems - different to other aspects of Art (?).
When D Helfgott became famous due to the film "the shine", I heard him play some Rachmaninov - and hated every bit of it - due to the lack of technique...
On the other hand I don't really like the "new master" of piano playing Lang Lang, and that is partly due to his technique...
As I see it, technique is a tool. A means to an end. If one makes it the "end", then photography could be a new discipline in the Olympics...
an image can't be great because of the technique, or lack of it - or even the choise of it..
the chosen technique should be closely integrated in the subject matter - so in the end, we're not looking at a photograph, but on an image.
This is why I still try.
The "perfect" photographs have been made long time ago... Why should we/I also do it?
Proberly for the same reason some still play Rachmaninov...
I believe part of it is simply not having to think about technique.
What I mean is that if I'm using a bunch of brain cells trying to figure out how to take a shot, while I'm taking the shot, the shot suffers artistically.
If the technical bits are simply routine or no adjustment is possible, therefore not requiring any significant decisions, the shot improves.
What I don't understand is what the difference is between a photograph and an image. I thought we are all photographers here, and as far as I know we all produce photographs. Is it perhaps a translation thing?
I just call them all pictures. :) Drives some people nuts, but that can be fun too. Especially when I say 'take pictures'. Oh yeah... hahaha
This brings to mind a quote from André Kertész: "Technique isn't important, go on and make mistakes. I've been making mistakes since 1912."
Anyway, learning technique is very important, of course. But accomplished people eventually realize that the technique was just the very first step along a long path that may ultimately lead nowhere in particular.
Our culture rates genius so highly, some people find it embarrassing to admit that they had to take that first baby step just like everyone else.
Other people (a.k.a. teachers) don't have that ego issue and are willing to discuss the complexities in the learning process, with the hope that they might help others.
Once again, I think it's implied that technique shouldn't be the focusing point of photography. It should be a means to achieve the print. And even though it might be a lot of fun and self satisfying, endless experimentation with materials, lenses, tripod and boot straps isn't necessarily going to make our collections of photographs any better. I think perhaps awareness of that may be important to find a healthy balance.
In my own experience, and for my own work, I find that simple is best. The less factors and variables I have when I take pictures and make prints the better it is, because I like my results better. Creativity in my process I hope comes from my brain and how I use my materials, and not so much an intricate knowledge of what it all means in words. It's like simply reacting to the subject matter, and make as little as possible stand between myself and it.
[QUOTE=Rudeofus;1248391]A lot of artists engage in sheer limitless self flattery and self promotion when they talk about their art. "I don't care about technique" and "I know nothing about photography" should be read as "I am so great that even poor technique doesn't make my magnificent pieces of art any less valuable" or "Being a technical imbecile makes me an even greater artist".
I would tend to agree with this. There seem to be two kinds of people who use that. 1) People making excuses for bad craftsmanship, and 2) Talented big names who conveniently forget or gloss over their interest in technical details or their earlier years. Brett Weston is a good example of category 2. His apparent total lack of interest in technique has no doubt added to the mystique. "He's so good he doesn't even have to know what dilution to use for LPD". Give me a break. I am pretty sure over his career, and particularly in his early years, he experimented and tested all sorts of materials, and I'll bet he focused a lot more on technique than he let on. There are clues to this here and there, like how each Weston, including the great "technical idiot" Brett, had his own special ratios for Amidol, etc.
I stand by my assertion there is nothing inherent in technical thinking that precludes the making of great photographs.
I don't think that there is anything in photography that is correct. And there isn't anything that is entirely wrong either.
What I wanted this thread to lead to was to perhaps generate some discussion around the topic, so that people can decide for themselves what's important to them.
While you opine that one doesn't necessarily exclude the other, I argue that brilliant technique isn't necessary to be a great photographer. I don't see why those two approaches couldn't coexist, because there's room for both. What is important, however, is to figure out where we want to go with our photography, and more importantly, how to get there. For my own purposes I am almost always entirely happy with my print quality. I honestly don't feel that I need to look at another paper, film, camera, lens, camera strap, or whatever, to get the final print that I want. I do feel it to be absolutely essential to keep my imagination alive, to find interesting subject matter and interesting moments to photograph. The more the technical side of my photography is a constant, I feel the more I am able to develop those areas.
For someone that is possibly not as happy with their print quality, the situation may be completely different, and it's obviously important what it is we wish to achieve with our photography. You know, we all try to find value in our lives, to fill them with as much joy as possible, so that we can be pleased with ourselves when we can't go after those things anymore. Memories, experiences, and so on. To some that achievement could be to write something like a Darkroom Cookbook, and to others it could be to have portfolios of work that they feel great about. The key is, once we decide what we wish to achieve, we can make decisions. Me, I want to be able to continue to make prints that are easy to make, where it's effortless to express what I want to express. That's all.
I'm not convinced there is a "technical side" and "artistic side" beyond the very basics. Assuming goals of art and meaning, photography is a process of seeing; and therefore to assume overly broad generalisations and privilege say "portraiture" over aspects of "landscape" is absurd. Although Ansel Adams is not my favourite photographer as such, I am very dubious of the notion that HCB could be considered superior in some ill-defined sense.