Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
Apologies for being somewhat rude. It's just that you can't imagine how many times someone has posted a technical question, only to have the discussion derailed by someone eventually chiming in with the old "nothing is worse than a sharp print of a fuzzy concept" thing. It never fails. So my furstration got the better of me.

I would say I'm mostly on the same page as you, after having read your explanation.

All I'm saying is there seems to be this notion out there that an interest in the theory and science of photography necessarily precludes artistic vision - and worse, that ignorance of technical matters necessarily makes one a better artist. This kind of thinking is utter nonsense. It is also one of the reasons why there is so much bad technical information out there when it comes to photography.

So I tend to get upset when issues of substance vs technical quality are raised. It is a false dichotomy. A red herring. Substance and technique are not mutually exclusive. It is perfectly possible for a photographer to be both a creative artist and obsessive about the minutiae of the photographic process.
I think we are very much in agreement. Every year I make the rounds at the large art fairs (Art Basel, The Armory Show, etc) and each year I am more and more amazed by the lack of technique when it comes to photographic print making. People can say whatever they want about the content of Robert Mapplethorpe's work, for example, but his prints were spectacular and on par with Weston, Penn and the like. So yes, content and technique should certainly support one another.

However, there is some truth to those notions, which is why I believe the pedagogy must change. One can get so mired in the technical that they fail to think creatively (or, more correctly stated, they fail to exercise their creative vision and how it fits in to the canon of photography) and one can produce work that has artistic merit while lacking technical skills.

I was originally educated as a classical musician (though my love is jazz). No one would ever hand you a violin and expect you to create art with it, without first spending years, if not decades, mastering the instrument itself. The art, comes out of mastery of craft. At the same time, it is important to expose the student of music to different kinds of music, to force them to practice improvisation (no matter how bad they may be at it at first) and to embrace genres that they might not "get" at first.

I've rambled long enough. Again, to yourself and others, I'm sorry. I'm somewhat new here and still learning the terrain.