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  1. #1
    36cm2's Avatar
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    Is a great photographer born with it???

    Apologies if this topic has already been addressed.

    "[Brett Weston] often said it was his belief that one was born with a way of seeing; good composition, he felt, could not be taught." (Merg Ross: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum54/7...-weston-5.html)

    Do you agree?

    A year ago I attended a workshop where the work of a neophyte with no understanding of shutter speeds and/or aperture (let alone more sophisticated elements of the "craft" of photography) was far superior to mine. The experience has remained with me for some time. This evening I revisited that experience in reviewing the work of a friend that has just begun experimenting with photography. In both cases I was excited by the budding photographers' work and prodded them to pursue it further.

    This being said, how much of our artistic photographic skill do you believe is innate vs. learned?
    "There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri

  2. #2
    Mats_A's Avatar
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    I think anyone can practice and become a Salieri but you are born a Mozart.
    Some people just are better at some stuff.

    The good thing is that those of use that aren't Mozarts can still become better at our chosen craft. Be that painting, music or photography. But the "wunderkinder" of the world will always beat us.

    r

    Mats
    Digital is for communication, film is for documentation.


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/studiopirilo

  3. #3
    Kvistgaard's Avatar
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    I believe in the old adage that it's "5% talent, 95% hard work". Agree with Mr. Shimoda's point re Mozart / Salieri.

    At any rate, the journey is more important than the destination. Go at it with 100% commitment, and be sure to measure how your skills and results improve along the way - that's the main thing. You may never do a new Moonrise over Hernandez, but guess less can do!
    S°ren

    "We are much more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than think our way into a new way of acting." - R. Pascale

  4. #4
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I have to respectfully disagree, though I think some are born with an innate ability for, say, making photographs or music, but even Mozart put in a good ten years of writing and playing before he made music that was truly his own. I think bringing up Mozart always feels a little like... "well, if I can't do it like him automatically, with some sort of magical inborn talent, then I'm not going to" even though he had to work at it.

    I think we are born with some talents... some things come to us naturally or more easily. Without learning, and more importantly, hands on practice those inborn talents and abilities won't flourish. I've had a good, strong eye for photography since I was a teenager. Even so, my early pictures suck.

    Took a good solid ten years of making pictures, before I felt I could competently and consistently make good photographs. That, and getting off this whole "Mozart" idea. I struggled with wanting EVERYONE to like my pictures... be amazed by them for a while. Once I let that go... my work improved. Not everyone will like it... and it's not required in my head, to find my work in the history of photography books.

    A couple of books to read... Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland
    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Obser...0985170&sr=1-1
    And Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell... especially chapter 2.
    http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story...0985192&sr=1-1
    Last edited by SuzanneR; 04-11-2010 at 06:27 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Added books

  5. #5
    Shaggysk8's Avatar
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    I think everyone can reach a level, but others born with talent will go beyond, but everyone has to put in the hard work first, then it also depends on what you want from a picture, is it content, which is where I think the talent comes in most of the time, or is it craft which is a process most can learn with hard work.

    Paul

  6. #6
    stevco's Avatar
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    There was a story which goes:
    (i'm translating this, but you'll get the point)

    It is not enough just having eyes, but to learn how to use your eyes. Flober was putting Mopasan in front of a tree for hours and hours (also was gaving him just a piece of wood), and letting him to describe the tree. "That's how I learned to see" - said later Mopasan.

    This it's useful in conotation to photography also.
    "It's not about the pictures, concepts, people, human bodies, emotions, experimentations, colours, dreams, tricky scenes, camera or imaginations.. it's about the poetry behind them all."

  7. #7
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    An interesting answer to this question can be found in the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. In one chapter he discusses people like Mozart who undoubtedly were born with a great talent, but who became great because of the immense quantity of practice and developing their talents. (Edit: Upon a closer reading of Suzanne's post I see that she mentions "Outliers" also.)

    I also think it is fascinating that Suzanne specifically mentioned "10 years." In Gladwell's book he gave several examples of talent that flowered only after a great many hours of practice, which equaled about 10 years.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  8. #8
    clayne's Avatar
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    I tend to think observational skills, situational awareness, and a healthy imagination are the main standpoints of quality photography. Most of the technical aspects can be refined through trial and error.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  9. #9
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I think it's more a matter of what holds our interest at a given moment than being born "with it".

    I can technically shoot a good landscape, but they rarely hold interest for me. Redefine that gorgeous landscape as a "background" for a campsite or some old church or a portrait and I'll pay more attention.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Ana´s Nin

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    I think it's more a matter of what holds our interest at a given moment than being born "with it".
    I agree. I think that is exactly 'it'.
    It's all a matter of application. Which starts with motivation. And is summed up in the old "nil volentibus arduum".

    You can run into limitations that you happen to be born with (have, for instance, the misfortune of being born stone deaf, and a successfull carreer in music will perhaps be not for you).
    But not the other way round, you're not born with an greater than average ability or talent.

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