Thanks for this - it's sort of embarrassing to me that I can recall a picture but not put names to them, not very helpful when making references!
Originally Posted by swittmann
We have just had a tv series in the UK that took beginners interested in a craft and gave them extensive practical tuition in that craft; weaving, stone masonery, green woodwork etc and we got to see their progression, or otherwise. Interesting tv (at last!). But what was interesting, in this context was that often some were very good at the "excercises" that taught aspects of the craft but when it came to the "final piece", it was often the person who had lagged in the training that came good in the application.
Perhaps they needed a reason for applying the knowledge or perhaps having the knowledge enabled them to apply their vision. They seemed to be naturally talented at the task (beyond being technically perfect) but the learning enabled that talent. Others may have been technically good/perfect but the work was sterile.
I think that the natural vision is important and some have it, some don't. The technical learning can enable a natural vision but try being a musuem photographer or catalogue photographer without technical expertise!
I absolutely agree; it cannot all be taught. However, it can be refined and developed.
Originally Posted by 36cm2
This "zen" approach, marked by a lot of self discovery and reflection, is the whole reason why I bother to do photography. And the core of that approach is the idea that you cannot be taught in the sense of being handed a recipe. Rather, you must explore and experiment and be prepared to find your own way.
At first this sounds like there is no need for a teacher at all... but that's not true. That's a common misconception about this approach. A teacher can help a student find what they've already got, while also making sure that the technical proficiency is there.
Challenging a student's thinking is a far more valuable service than passing along some recipe (if there were such a thing). My experience with teaching (and coaching) is that students want recipes. It really takes a strong personality to say to the student: no, there is no recipe, this is all about you not me. And the student invariably says: well I don't know how to do X, I don't even know where to begin, I am frustrated, I am lost, show me what to do!!! And then you say: well why do you even want to do X in the first place? And the student looks perplexed and confused, but then it takes off. I have witnessed this dozen of times. (and I am not talking about photography, specifically; I am talking about education in general)
Amazingly, many of the students who come to me as an academic advisor don't know why they are in the game at all. And when they start to visualize their outcome, presto, suddenly things start to fall into place.
For people I have met who have excelled in their chosen profession, each has at least one coach who also serves as a mentor to s(he), follows them and helps them along the way. My coach and mentor was Monte Zucker, his coach and mentor was Joe Zeltsman. I once asked Monte how many photographs he made that he considered one of his best. He felt the only photograph that he considered above all the rest was an image he made of the holocaust.
I believe it takes a lot of hard work to become successful in photography and I've found people photography presents unique challenges. It is a journey with no end; it includes, among other characteristics, a constant awareness to try/experiment to make the next photograph better than the last, attempting to fulfill a vision of the world and how people play a part in shaping it and their lives.
But before an artist begins experimenting there should be a strong foundation, a basis to build on and then break the rules as it fits s(he)'s vision.
keithwms,what really helped me in high school math was taking electronics and drafting which held my interest ,using math in those classes was just a technical tool that was understandable necessary,but the interest was in drifting and electronics.I suppose in photography its the same,love the idea of making a beautiful image makes the technical part of it more compatible . So is the passion or interest considered Talent,it has to be a great part of it.If there is great passion or interest and have access ,then more time is spent doing it.
Agree you are born with it. But it is not composition, it is the unique way a person see's and interacts with their surroundings. I am strictly B&W and search, as many of you also do, my surroundings seeing it in B&W and knowing what the print will look like before shooting. The same for color I am sure. It is a voyeuristic approach to our lives that we must show others what we see. That is what you are born with.
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Originally Posted by mike c
I do think it indeed is interest, curiosity, fascination, passion.
The boring, tedious, hard bits become manageable first, easy later when you know why they are needed, and when you know you have to have those too to get what you want.
Not even that interest, curiosity, fascination or passion.
I read some articles in various (serious) scientific magazines lately on the concept of "genius" that I personally found realistic and probable. Examples they used was fields such as mathematics, or excelling at an instrument or sports. The theory pushed was basically that ~10 years worth of training, or ~40 000 hours are needed to achieve excellence in a field. As I recall the explanation was partly physiological, it simply takes a long time to burn really deep/solid neural pathways.
That someone seem to be born with a special skill or ability within a field does not change this I think. There may be exceptions to the rule, but that alone do not change the general tendency. Most artists, scholars, musicians and so forth I know of, have spent an unholy amount of time doing what they love, which is also the reason they are so good at it. Raw talent may produce incredible results occasionally, but cannot do so consistently. Only excessive training and experience gives the ability to reproduce.
Think about it, for instance, why do most soccer players really blossom in their late teens, early 20s? Most started doing their "thing" at the age of 6-12. Ten years later countless hours of kicking that ball around combined with mental and physical maturity seem to take hold and they start to do really well, regularly. Or, another example, chess players, most of the really good ones seem to "pop" around the age of 20, which fits quite perfectly with the 10-year "rule".
..on the other hand, after living with women for 10 years I still suck at handling them.. ;-)
I don't believe in bad apples and I don't believe in god given gifts
IMO, they are born with it, raised to it, and practice it a lot. A combination of natural proclivity (perhaps brain chemistry during fetal development is involved), influences in youth (visual, academic, social, literary, philosophical, mood, temperament, communication skills and style, etc.), and then some plain-ol' hard work...but you need at least some of all three, IMO. (No getting "great" on hard work alone is what I mean.)
What really pains me is not how many photographers there are practicing who do not have a natural gift for it.....but how many naturally-talented visual artists there are out there who never "seriously" pick up a camera in their lives, or any visual art medium, for that matter.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-19-2010 at 04:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
2F/2F's post above is the best of the theories, in particular, mention of influences in youth, where sensory pathways are heavily stimulated; I know this through my work with gifted and talented children, not many of whom pick up a camera, but who as visual/spatial learners are more in tune with their environment, can interpret it and in some later cases, commit a vision to media.
There are a score of people who pay a fortune to go through University art school and drift over time to the fringes (without graduating) and come up with stuff that has little relevance to art, stimulation or intellectual debate; only those that are disciplined and in touch with the information coming in will be successful.
And lastly, individuals who have lost a sensory faculty will often do extremely well in the arts e.g. those who are deaf will often excel in visual arts; those who are blind will find their way in music.