In moving toward art, I think that technique is fluid and ever changing - not least because new materials are introduced and old ones are discontinued. But I do think it's possible to move from equipment to art and my experience is that once I stopped thinking that new stuff = better photos and rather started concentrating on getting the best out of what I had, I was able to become much more confident and perhaps even relegate technique and focus upon artistic form.
I know it may be considered heresy, but it is important to remember that once we define the art we want to make (the product we expect), the craft of photography becomes nothing more than a means to an end, part of an assembly line, the creation of "lucky accidents" over and over again.
Weston had a style, Adams had a style, Picasso, Rembrandt, etcetera all defined a style then worked within it.
Wedding and portrait photographers do this all the time. In a given situation they do a, b, c and d and it works every time.
a - backlight your subject against a late afternoon sky
b - have them kiss or spin or whatever or just wait for "the moment"
c - shoot 400 speed C-41 film at 400 and f4
d - send it to the lab
(this a,b,c,d process is essentially Henri Cartier-Bresson's process)
If a wedding shooter has 8 or 10 of these setups, that is all the craft they need to know to reliably produce a very artistic product. There is no need for thought about the craft or process or style or DOF or blur, camera work becomes all about the composition and posing. For most setup's you don't even need a meter.
It doesn't require sticking with or knowing "just one film", Fuji and Kodak become fully interchangeable as does color and B&W, heck consumer films like Superia and Gold will work just fine in a pinch.
I think you are right. It takes less to get "started" of course there is mountains to learn about the equipment.
Originally Posted by 2F/2F
I have met guitar players that really don't care much about the "gear". They will have a preference, say a Fender over a Gibson but beyond that they just want to play and they will rock you back on your heels. Other players want to know every thing they can, theoretical as well as pratical some care really play and some are just gear guys. I think to your point 2F/2F, the artistry comes from the person obviously and not the gear. When I first started I thought that photography was more about learning to use the camera, lights, film and then you would be good but like everything else artistic, it comes from the inside of the person behind the camera. We can be gear chasers, but still not be a photographer. From another thread here I discovered Ralph Gibson and really like his work. According to what I read he only used a Leica and primes and it seems mostly available light so his gear and set up were not overly complicated but what results!
I am afraid that I have gained a fair amount of technical knowledge but lack the real vision that I want? Is that the way many of you feel as well?
I don't know If I'd put it that way.
Originally Posted by stradibarrius
I would say I haven't finished defining my style. ;)
that explains a lot ..
You could always try the traditional way: copy pictures. (I don't mean copy and pass off as your own, of course.) Choose a picture, study it for a while (5 or 10 minutes, perhaps more), ask yourself why it works and what it is that appeals to you, then make your own version. Repeat.
Originally Posted by stradibarrius
At some point you'll find that you prefer your versions to the originals, and you'll find your own style emerging. (Don't be disheartened if you don't reach this place for a while.) When you start to feel that you're exploring something important then repeat the exercise, but using your pictures as the starting point.
Don't limit yourself to photographs as inspiration. Look at some paintings or sculptures. Look at architecture and design. Look at the people around you. Look at clouds (Stieglitz's Equivalents). Do something daring that pushes you right outside your comfort zone. Stop listening to people who say that you're doing it wrong - if it feels right to you then it's right. Keep exploring.
I wouldn't recommend the copy-cat school.
You get, perhaps not quicker, but more direct to where you want to be if you ponder for as long as it takes what it is you want to do using photography. And why photography?
Keep exploring, yes. But explore that, before even thinking about using a camera, i'd say.
Trying to find out what that something important is is much better than waiting for the moment you stumble across it while doing what not you, but other people do/did/have done.
All art is experiential - i.e. you can only understand it by experiencing it. This is true regardless of whether you are making it or are in the audience. In other words you've got to do it to learn it. And making art is exploratory. When you're exploring then, by definition, you can't know where you're going before you start. The best you can do is work out a plan for exploring efficiently and effectively. Then you have to start your exploration - and that means making pictures.
The suggestion of selecting others work that appeals to me and try to understand "why" I like seems as though it would help me decide what "my style" is or at least a point from which to start.
Back in the 80's I went on a workshop with Paul Hill at Duckspool,.
Originally Posted by Q.G.
A rather wealthy photographer (heir to the family fortune, had never worked) showed an immaculate portfolio, the pints were fantastic quality & composition except there was nothing of him in the images. He'd done one Ansel Adams style, another Cartier Bresson and so on, he was torn to shteds.
Photography (or any art form) is all about achieving your own personal style.