Moving from technique, form and equipment to art???
Like so many things that are a combination of skills, you initially struggle with the technical aspect of the art form. learning how to use your "tools"effectively. At some point you are able to move past the "stuff" you use to make the art and actually begin making art.
I am curious how many of you have had the experience that I describe? If you are a musician it is your instrument. If you are a sculptor it's your carving tools and if your a photographer it is your camera gear.
I hope that I am about to make that next step in my effort to create photographs that I truly like...the step where I am able to concentrate on the end results and not my gear.
I am interested in your views.
I think everybody has it if they keep working at learning photography. Any time you take up a new art form, you have to learn the techniques. It takes as long as it takes, and that time may vary with each person. It has been said that one does not become an artist until they have painted 1,000 paintings. That was rounded off by one lecturer to one a day for three years. I asked the lecturer how that related to photography, in which one can make 1,000 photos pretty quickly. His reply was, but are you intentionally, consciously trying to make each and every one of those 1,000 photos a work of art? That would take a little longer, especially depending on your format and subject matter. I don't know if you could do it in three years, but I suppose that if you applied yourself to making one photo a day, trying to make it the best you have ever done, then certainly after 1,000 days, you should have your technique down pat.
Originally Posted by stradibarrius
So quit worrying about it and go shoot!
I actually feel like the simplcity of shooting with my newly aquired Rolleix has helped me walk across the bridge into the more artistic side. I am feeling with a fixed lens high qulality machine that gives me options I need, I no longer make the technical stuff a worry at all when I am shooting. I am just concerned about getting my visions painted onto the film. I will always be interested in the techinal stuff though as is naturally my nature with everything but I am now making art more than ever.
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
It is certainly a journey. Personally, I'm stuck right in the middle of it. Technically sound, but not perfect. Compositionally improving, but not inspiring. Artistically challenged, but hopeful. I agree that the only way to achieve is to do.
"There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri
I messed around with cameras and techniques for years and years. Since I've finally decided on a format and method of working, I am finally able to really work on seeing.
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I believe that it is Malcolm Gladwell in his book, "The Outliers," who investigates the idea that about 10,000 hours of practice is one of the things that allows someone to master his or her calling. In the earlier parts of our photographic journey we have to think harder about the technical aspects of film speed, camera operation, and exposure factors. As we begin to master these things we can spend less time thinking about them and more time thinking of how to express what made us want to photograph something. Or as Bayles and Orland wrote, "art is the visible edge of craft."
I'm not sure it's mastery that matters. I rather think it is confidence.
If you are able to use whatever you are using to achieve what you want with confidence, i.e. without being distracted by worries about the "how to", you're free to focus on the "what".
That's what changes tinkering with tools into using a medium.
The level of mastery needed depends entirely on what you want to do.
Think about, for instance, the many great photographers who have never even bothered trying their hands at, say, platinum printing.
Or, in other words, mastery is a reative thing. You may need 10,000 hours of practice to learn one trick. Maybe only 8 to master another. And if that other is the one you want to use...
For me it is a continuous cycle of discovering some new technique and gobbling that up and hen it becomes part of the creative process. There wasn't any one "aha" moment when suddenly I shifted from a camera user to an artist. I suppose the art interest was always there; the gear part just masks that sometimes.
I recommend looking into Minor White's [unusual] teaching methods, and perhaps read the little book he gave to his students, Zen in the Art of Archery. That was quite interesting to me, and a very quick read, although I found myself re-reading some chapters and puzzling about the message. I also enjoyed the book Rites and Passages which presents both sides of the argument for White's methods. Both of these gave me some ideas about liberating the inner art. Some people recoil from the Zen stuff though! The bottom line is that the art is there and it is yours. It always was there, waiting to be discovered. You have to do that patiently so that you don't force it, i.e. let it happen as naturally as possible.
The hurdle is getting over, or getting by the love affair with gear and technique. The quicker you can get over this hurdle, the faster you can worry about what is in front of your camera rather than what is in it. I think that is where Fred Picker's contribution is so misunderstood. Fred had a dandy method and approach to technique that, if practiced, would get you through the technical part of photography very quickly so you could concentrate on what is in front of the camera and not have to worry about the exposure and development part of the process. Once you get there, then photography begins.
Art has to be built on craft, so mastery of the craft is important.
Some people are afraid of knuckling down, honing the craft parts, the learning how to control the process to make it work properly for themselves. They seem to think it will restrict their photography when the exact opposite is true, with mastery of craft behind you it liberates your work.
But if you stop learning and re-invigorating and expanding your craft then you become stagnant. On the other hand it's important not to be obsessive of technique.
So sound craft allows you to shoot confident the results will be the best quality possible under those particular circumstances. This craft is all the more important when shooting 35mm where control of grain, sharpness and exposure is more critical, it's what makes photographers/photojournalists like Salgado so highly respected, it show in the quality of his work.