Someone in this thread mentioned the "Equivalents" of Steiglitz. This series was Steiglitz's reaction to a critique that he was capable of producing strong "people" photos only. So for the next several years he was the first to introduce abastract art in the photography domain by means of photographing clouds. But, he did not just turn his camera to the sky and started clicking. He was worried that the orthochromatic emulsions he used didn't reproduce exactly his vision (that's the technical part) and also that he wanted the poetic nature of the pictures to come through so that Bloch would exclaim "This is music!" (that's the artistic part).
So, I believe personal progress except tools mastery is also a product of the artist's reaction to sincere critique of his/her work. And by this I do not mean the comments below photos that show up on popular photo sites.
One should pick his critics as carefully as his photographs.
As you explore, if you keep asking yourself what works for me and what doesn't (the "for me" is really important), and if you apply the results of that questioning to your next pictures, then you will find that the pictures you make will soon start to diverge from the master's and your style will emerge.
We worship originality to such an extent that we sometimes seem to expect new artists to appear on the scene perfectly formed, already with sparkling originality. (IMO, this has led us directly to the shallow rubbish that the art schools churn out.) But this is an entirely unreasonable expectation.
Take Edward Weston, for example. He didn't arrive like some revolutionary leader, already perfectly formed. Neither did he have an epiphany moment and transform himself overnight. He started out as a pictorialist - making pictures in the accepted style of the day. But he continually questioned what he was making and what he saw around him, and thus re-shaped his work into something new and revolutionary. In my opinion, his genius was in his continual questioning, his willingness to explore, and his obsession, rather than in his undoubted technical skills.
the gear should never factor into it if you truly care about creating photographs till youre already doing so
lots of people say you should start out with the be
I do many artistic things that are banal, transitory, and meant just for me.
Some are as simple as dishing up dinner, taking a picture of my wife, or building a sand castle. Where "I" am the whole audience, no other opinions matter.
I know some people might suggest that that dishing up dinner isn't art.
I'd also bet that any great chef would give you an earful if you disparaged the art of meal presentation as simply throwing food on the plate.
What can't happen in a vacuum is earning a living off art.
It is only when we expect to profit from our art and fit into "the market" that external opinions begins to matter.
It could be easily argued that personal art, made in a vacuum, is actually more pure, special, and important.
If that personal work happens to find a market, that's just gravy.
Often I see an external critique from a person I trust as a yardstick for my personal improvement as an artist.
If I ever add money to the equation then perhaps I'll choose a different critic.
Right now I have an idea that I'm working on for a series of themed painted works.
The idea is fully formed, I know exactly what I want to end up with.
I don't need help with my vision for the project, I am the audience.
What I don't know is how to do it. I need to learn Impasto techniques. I need help and practice to learn how to mix oil paints and move the paint around to get what I want.
The only criticism I need or want is on how I use the tools and materiels. I flat don't care if anybody else likes the style at this point. I want a teacher for the craft.
If they turn out special I may ask some friends what they think. The only reasons I'd be asking is to either 1-get my ego stroked or 2-determine if they have any commercial possibilities. I just don't see any other reason to bother getting critiqued.
Why in the world would I (or you) want to modify my (or your) artistic vision?
All I can think of is money or ego.
Now the technique and craft I need to accomplish this sure I want help with, but I don't care one whit what about what my teachers think of the idea.
I don't want to be an apprentice or mimic or be tainted by others artistic visions.
One way of allowing yourself to grow as an artist is to listen to constructive critique from people who've followed the path before you.
Of course each artist's path is different, but constructive critique can help you clarify your choices - either by accepting or rejecting it.
Critique starting with the word, "why," can also help you to understand your motives and your path.