Quote Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
Ed, I cannot imagine how you took my comments to have anything to do with anything technical.
... And I didn't take it as if there was anything about "technical" there. My point was that the technical aspects of photography *could* be taught - specifically; but the "human involvement"; the aesthetics - could not, at least not in the traditional "lecture - followed by test", scenario. I think we do "assimilate" some sort of intelligence about the characteristics of our work... and that does change to some small extent, minute to minute, with our moods and experiences.

Certainly, there is a learning process - but to tell the truth I don't know- and I can't imagine just what it is. It *may* help some to learn the "rules" - but I can't find anything that says it is mandatory. Certainly there are models and sculptors that understand the "S-Curve of Praxiteles" ... but there are countless successful models and sculptors - and figure photographers - who do not.

Jorge - I think you may be overlooking the roots of Jazz - where a few people with instruments would get together and "blow". NO music, no structure - I'm sure that most had *NO* formal musical training at all - I'll draw attention to the funeral processions in New Orleans - where they walked down the street - and *played*.

I wonder if anyone here has ever participated in one of those "Primitive Drum Sessions" ... where one selects a drum (from various types) and sits around in a group - and plays. No structure, no leader, nothing like any kind of blueprint to follow.
At first, this sounds like a crazy idea, nothing seems coherent .. just disassociated beating - but gradually, a sort of collective melody .. "appears".
Strange, mysterious - "weird" ... but it DOES happen. It is a liberating experience.

I would suggest an exercise for all ... just sacrifice one roll of film, or a couple of sheets, and NOT try to make the photograph that "rocks the world" .. as a sort of relief valve. If one has a 35mm camera, set the self timer and toss the thing into the air so that the shutter fires randomly. With a medium format, hold the camera overhead and point it in back of you, not looking through the viewfinder. Some of the results *may* really surprise you.

I've tried this with some of my "mentor-ees" ... Walk down the street and just trip the shutter - without using the viewfinder - as an exercise in gaining freedom. The most resistance to this was NOT from the possibility of wasting film, or the perceived "danger" of making a "bad" photograph - but that someone would SEE them and think they were crazy.

Come to think of it, I haven't done that for a while. It is a good way to maintain ones' sense of balance in this game. It *IS* possible to try TOO hard - to overwork.