Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
Oh, come on, Wiggy.
OK, where are we going?

Years ago one of my girlfriends somehow acquired a meterless Nikon F and a normal lens and went out to take creative photographs. I asked her how she planned to get along without an exposure meter. Instead of telling me that with negative films "sunny 16" is good enough, she told me that she'd set the controls creatively. So she did, and she got a lot of unprintable negatives. Since then she's taken the trouble to learn the craft and now she's a pretty good photographer.
Seems reasonable. I would never suggest otherwise. Had she taken an auto-everything point-n-shoot, she would have gotten a lot of printable negatives. Not sure what your point is, except that either the camera or the photographer has to at least make an attempt to set exposure correctly.

Point is, there's art and there's craft. Without mastery of craft, art, whatever that means, is produced by lucky and unrepeatable accident. Aleatory art is just another sick joke.
Not true at all, in my opinion.

First, there have been many fine works of art created by those who were not and never became masters of their respective crafts. From paintings to photographs to theater to cinema to poems to novels to sculpture to music (perhaps especially music, eh?), we fill our museums, art galleries, homes, and iPods with the work of less-than-expert artists. Mastery is a fine thing. Many wonderful homes are built by journeymen, even some few built by enthusiastic amateurs.

Second, you paint this picture as if it were black and white. Either one is master of one's craft, or one is just lucky to get a good photograph. I reject that notion entirely.

Third, even if it were true - art is what the viewer perceives it as. If they like and appreciate it, it is what they perceive. How it was made, the 'luck' involved, has to do with reproducibility, perhaps - but it does not change what the work is. My opinion.

In addition, not all students of photography have art on their empty little minds. Some of them hope to earn their livings as commercial photographers. They'll starve if they can't produce what's required when its needed. In short, they need to master the craft.
I would not argue that a student should not learn how the tools work. I would argue against excluding entry-level students unless they have a classic mechanical manual-only camera. I would argue against the notion that a person cannot work as a commercial photographer without being master of his or her tools. I know too many people working in the field who use a dSLR and never change any settings from 'auto'. We might argue that they could do better work if they knew more, but their paychecks seem to argue that absolute mastery is not required.

How people come to realize that they have to master the craft is an interesting question. But that serious photographers, be they artists or slaves to commerce, can't avoid it.
I cannot help but to disagree with that entire premise, as well as your conclusion. It would be wonderful if we were all masters of our tools. We are not all such, and somehow we get by.

In any case, I would not dissuade a student from pursuing all the knowledge of this craft that they could get. I object only to the notion that one cannot begin to learn until one has mastered what we have decided to call 'the basics' of manual focus and manually-set exposure.

I'm [COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]color blind[/COLOR], and yet I work part-time as a wedding and event photographer, in addition to trying to create art. I cannot master certain tools that involve color. How now? Can I therefore not become a master craftsman, and therefore, never hope to be a true photographer?