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Author Topic: A good photographer is BORN....not made  (Read 14071 times)

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« on: April 20, 2008, 05:42 »
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OK here we go with another controversial issue from me.

A friend I met at an art gallery where I was displaying some of my landscapes ask me:
"How do you see the shots that you take?" "Can anyone learn to spot the same shots you do?"

My answers to both questions were terse and to the point.
1. I was born with it
2. No

I have attempted on numerous occasions to try and teach various friends interested in photography
how to spot good shots. I have pointed them in the direction of helpful websites, different books.
and answered all their questions. all all the friends (I count 7) only 1 shows promise, although I doubt
he will aspire to any great level.

Important, keep in mind I'm not referring to the technical aspects of photography. Just the aesthetic end.
For instance when I'm scanning for images, I have the ability to scan a scene through a range of wide to telephoto
lenses.

The human eye sees at about 52mm. In my minds eye I can change that from 16mm thru 200mm easily.

So? What say you? I say you either have it or you don't.
Are you are born with a talent, and if not, can you learn it?

Do you agree or do you think I'm some sort of pompous a**hole on an ego trip.

The MIZ


« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 06:12 »
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Do you agree or do you think I'm some sort of pompous a**hole on an ego trip.

My answers to both questions were terse and to the point.
1. Almost agree.
2. Skip this one  ;)

I think that people have or don't have a "sense of aesthetic" and that you cannot learn it.

 

« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 06:14 by araminta »

« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2008, 07:23 »
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Can the aesthetic concepts be taught? I believe so, but it is not something that is taught through the traditional teacher/student method. It takes longer - much longer. And the "student" must also want to learn. It is not a matter of teaching someone to look outward to see the beauty, but inward - to discover not only what they like, but why. Our world population has become involved in a "race to see who's first" mentality. That doesn't work with any artistic creativity. Before the aesthetics can be taught, you first have to break down that thinking and instill a concept of "slow down and SEE what you are looking at."

I was in a mall with a friend of mine (this was many, many moons ago) and he was hurrying from store to store, take a few minutes to see if the store had what he wanted, then on to the next store. We were between two stores when I told him to slow down. He asked why. I asked, "What do you see?" He replied, "Stores." I then went on to explain to him what I saw: a woman washing the face of a child, a man with a girl young enough to be his daughter (probably was, but more fun to think of her as his mistress), four high school girls giggling, two high school boys puffing out their chests trying to impress the four girls, a woman in a business suit looking very serious, and old couple sitting on a bench watching people go by, two women stopping at every window display and oohing and ahhing over each one, kids watching the fountains, mothers watching the kids, etc. With each person I gave a quick one or two sentence explanation of why they were doing whatever or who they were. The explanations had nothing to do with "knowing", but adding imagination to the scene, giving each person a purpose that fit their actions.

My friend had been taught from an early age not ask why. Children are taught "don't ask why, just do it", but it is the "why" that makes any artistic endeavor successful or not. The effort of teaching someone anything artistic is to teach them to ask themselves why. Why do I like this shot? Why do I feel an emotional surge by it? Why do I want to share it? Why would I care about remembering this moment? Why? Why? Why?

It is not until a person can answer this question that they can begin to grow. It does not matter whether the answer makes sense to anyone else, it only needs to make sense to the artist/photographer. So, yes, you can teach the aesthetic to someone if you can teach them to wonder "why".

« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2008, 08:31 »
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can of worms on this one, MIZ... 
..having been doing this thing coming up on 50 years...  IMHO

1. Yeah,  you are born with  'the eye'...  or 'the talent'.  Same as everyone can't be a Michealangelo,  a Frank Lloyd Wright,  a Bach, a Da Vinci ,

2.  Yeah, I agree with Pywrit on this one... It can be taught/learned... but only with extreme effort and dedication over years and years.  On the other hand,  that in itself may imply that a shred of the talent was there in the first place.

 8)=tom

vonkara

« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2008, 09:12 »
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Beware, you can lost that also. Since I make microstock and since the technical aspect have been more important than the view point or the esthetical, my pictures aren't come as easily than when I pass from drawing to photography.

At my start, I was walking and taking pictures at the same time. Now I have to think if a designer can do something useful whit, how it will look on thumbnail size, what can I improve whit photoshop, logos, copyright...

And there goes the inspiration and the artistic aspect. But I still like what I do :)

« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2008, 09:21 »
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I'd rephrase this a little bit. I think a good photographer can be made, but a great photographer is born.

I think we can learn basic rules of composition and lighting to get us from mediocre to good, but I think there are some who possess an eye for extreme detail and are very astute observers of the world who do things at an instinctual level that many of us could never learn. Or if we could learn it, it would too much time to actually think everything through and execute, and we'd still probably forget a lot of things.

Every see the movie Amadeus? That what this is about. No matter how hard Salieri tried he could never come close to matching the genius of Mozart. Things that never even occurred to Salieri were instinctual to Mozart.

With that said, I think there is case to be made for salesmanship.  I think a few good artists can become great if they can convince the right people that their work is also great.

But remember, we don't all have to be great to be successful. I think very few people recognize true greatness.

Just my thoughts.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 09:27 by steve-oh »

« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2008, 09:57 »
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Good topic to stir things up .. I'll take a stab at it .. I come at this as being just a few years into photography but having been a music composition teacher at the University level for the last decade ..

1. In my opinion 90% of the time the word "Talent" is used it is used by those who haven't put in a billion hours of hard work to rationalize why those that have are successful and they are not.

2. There are so many variables in any nature/nurture debate that any sweeping generalization is guaranteed to be inaccurate.

3. Being a child prodigy is not necessarily a great indicator .. lots of child prodigies disappear .. their early success being based on a hyper enforced technical proficiency .. despite popular conception many gifted artists are late bloomers .. that does not negate the idea of a large degree of their talent being innate (it may have taken longer for other elements to come into focus).

4. Being innately talented does not mean that the creative process flows easily .. Mozart like from thought to final draft in one sweep of the pen  .. Beethoven drafted and redrafted and redrafted and redrafted ..

5. No matter how talented finding one's unique voice takes time .. time to synthesize all of the things that have influenced one profoundly into a unique whole. Yet individual style is more than just an easily definable combination of technique and genre .. I always have thought that those people that really, really "have it" are the ones who I can identify in one momentary view or listen .. you can identify Stravinsky, Carlos Santana, etc.  in 0.2 seconds .. after just one note or chord .. the same is certainly true in the visual arts as well.

6. To be successful one has to have in intense drive, desire, and something to say .. those are things that shouldn't be underestimated.

all that said .. it is interesting that you bring up spatial conception issues .. because that is also what I consistently see in music "genius" as well .. Peter Maxwell Davies having all nine Beethoven symphonies memorized in piano reduction by his early teens .. I have this video of a young (maybe six year old) Yehudi Menuhin hopping off the swing set and playing the Bach Chaccone for unaccompanied violin ... the technical ferocity and phrasing from a child grabs you  .. it is a piece typically played by upper level college majors .. but more than that it is that it is a fifteen minute unaccompanied work being played by memory that I think holds a real clue to the spatial conception going on.

.. and that kind of artistic understanding - visualization - conceptualization of relationships over large and small scales of space, and of an infinite number of complexly related layers .. can be honed certainly and I think taught to a large degree .. but I also think there is a wide spectrum of innate skill ... and there is most likely only so far it can be pushed .. so maybe your post should be "a great photographer" .. hopefully we can all find "good"

then again it is early and I haven't had any coffee yet .. this will probably make less sense to me in an hour .. thanks for the morning topic. 

John

« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2008, 10:55 »
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John,.....no single malt in the coffee I hope

« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2008, 11:13 »
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John,.....no single malt in the coffee I hope

no I would never desecrate a single malt that way : )

.. stimulants in the morning .. depressants in the evening .. the circle of life ..

.. actually I am going to be without drink for a while .. I haven't been submitting enough to get enough rejections to fill my single malt piggie bank .. need to get some shooting time in here ..

« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2008, 11:21 »
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Either you can feel it.. or you don't. I have seen plenty of music graduates not able to create a simple tune. Anyone can read a book. Being able to identify/create the subtle things that make the "art" work or not work is something you are born with.

To quote John Lennon
"I'm an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I'll bring you something out of it"
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 11:55 by cdwheatley »

« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2008, 11:28 »
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John,

You make a good point about finding one's voice. This is probably the hardest thing for an arist to do. A lot of artists are taught by examining the works of previous and current greats. I think many artists get too obsessed with trying to copy others and forget that honing ones own voice is very important. Of course, this requires confidence and independence, and throughout an aritst's journey confidence is something that can get lost easily.

-Steve

« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2008, 11:46 »
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Steve_oh said the best!

« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2008, 14:12 »
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I would like to make an comparison.

All can try to sing. Not all can master it.

Some of us can take lessons and do well, OK at least somewhere near that.:-)

Someone can be a worldclass soprano, not all, no matter what training they are going through. 

I am sure it is the same with photo. Some have a natural feeling, maybe not born with a wideangel or tele, but close to.

I like the question, its a perspective that often comes up at dinnerparties, why do you charge "millions" when everbody can take a picture, yea right?!  :D

« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2008, 16:12 »
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Nah - the top stock photographers are 'production machines' working to carefully researched formulas.

There is a difference between stock and 'art'.

Mozart and Beethoven both died destitute, and Van Gogh could hardly make enough money to feed himself.

On the other hand Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Spice Girls are production machines worth millions.

fotoKmyst

« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2008, 16:22 »
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Nah - the top stock photographers are 'production machines' working to carefully researched formulas.

There is a difference between stock and 'art'.

Mozart and Beethoven both died destitute, and Van Gogh could hardly make enough money to feed himself.

On the other hand Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Spice Girls are production machines worth millions.

wholehearted agreement here with hatman.

what photographer do you mean to be born?
w. eugene smith, richard avedon, cecil beaton, henri cartier bresson,etc
would have 100% rejects by atilla as they shoot "snapshots" in stock definition.

stock photograph is  like pre-fabric factory outlet. not to be confused with art.
hatman puts it so profoundly:  stock=andrew lloyd webber
snapshots to atilla = beethoven , brahms, chopin.
 ;)

vonkara

« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2008, 16:24 »
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Nah - the top stock photographers are 'production machines' working to carefully researched formulas.

There is a difference between stock and 'art'.

Mozart and Beethoven both died destitute, and Van Gogh could hardly make enough money to feed himself.

On the other hand Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Spice Girls are production machines worth millions.
LOL... that's true Hatman :D I'm more interested to be in the spice girls category

« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2008, 16:28 »
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Nah - the top stock photographers are 'production machines' working to carefully researched formulas.

There is a difference between stock and 'art'.

Mozart and Beethoven both died destitute, and Van Gogh could hardly make enough money to feed himself.

On the other hand Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Spice Girls are production machines worth millions.

well said  ;D

let's just say, as both a serious musician and photographer.
when i just joined stock, i have now to think like david foster instead of paco de lucia  ::)


« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2008, 17:16 »
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not sure I agree with this.

I agree that some people have an ability with the arts, and some others are suited to other things. But imagery could be expressed as writing, painting, sculpting.

I think most people who are "arty" struggle with the technical aspects of photography.

« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2008, 18:15 »
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I think most people who are "arty" struggle with the technical aspects of photography.

I would have to categorize this statement as a generalization - especially in regards to photography and writing. These two seem to have a mental association that is very similar. There are plenty of writers who are quite decent photographers and vice versa. I would hazard a guess that the same areas of the brain are used in the composition of both. Don't get me wrong - not every writer is a photographer nor is every photographer a writer - but it seems that the concentration of the two is higher than similar combinations of artistry - say between painter and sculptor or sculptor and writer or writer and painter.

I do agree when it comes to stock photography, often the artist has a tougher time because he/she tends to stretch themselves creatively which doesn't always mean "commercial". I know I tend to try different things and a lot of what I shoot is not stock photography at all. It does not mean that I am less technically proficient, only that sometimes I sacrifice "technical perfection" in order to achieve something more emotional.

On a personal level, I have a tough time leaving a photo "unfinished". It is like writing a short story and stopping after the first draft. I always want to finish the photo and that is what so many microstock agencies do not want. They want the image raw, as in uncooked, and I want to add spices and grill it to perfection. It is often a dilemma, but I'd rather have this dilemma than to have no creative spark at all. It keeps everything far more interesting.

« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2008, 09:57 »
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I think that everybody has the possibility to do anything in them.  Creativity is inherent in everybody.  Talent however IMO refers to the ability, partially technically, partially by feel, to transfer what is found in the mind into what something that can be communicated to others.

Whether via spoken words, written words, visual art, photography, film, musical composition, musical performance, architectural/engineering design, scientific discovery, all of this is nothing more than various forms of communication, something that humans have mastered relative to other creatures on the planet, yet still humans communicate very rudimentary.  The ability does not exist to communicate to others what exists in our heads exactly.  We can get close, especially in some areas, other areas are very lacking.

I think that musical performance gets the closest, musicians exist that can communicate the sounds in their heads to others almost exactly as they hear it in their minds eye (I saw a fantastic Santana show with Prince as a guest musician, both literally seemed to be taking to one another via their instruments, both clearly had the ability to play back exactly what the other had just played and expand apon it, it was really amazing to hear).

Spoken language, as rudimentary as it is, works, though the eloquence of a thought is often lost in the translation into language, and thoughts and ideas exist that there is no way of expressing verbally.

Wheras mundane concepts that are easily described by language and musical notes are fairly easy for humans to communicate, visual ideas are much more difficult, and non-mundane concepts are the most difficult of all. 

Everybody has the ability to visualize things somewhat, they inherently recognize the aspects that make a good photo/painting, etc..., but to transfer that from recognition to creation is a big step (even communicating why it is good is a difficult task to master, it is not something that language is good at describing inherently), not only requiring technical proficiency to use the medium but also the ability to communicate via the medium, which is often referred to as talent, but the ultimate teacher could teach the "talent" to anybody, the problem is the ultimate teacher does not exist, not even close, due in large part to the limitations of verbal communication.  Words do not exist to properly describe the mental process of artistic communication, it is something that you have to kind of figure out on your own, some people can, others that need help to see the way are considered to be lacking talent, they could do it if their mind could be shown the way.

The one place that I think that our teaching is most advanced is in the field of engineering and architecture.  Everybody has the ability to visualize something that doesn't exist.  Though education engineers are taught via endless practice to hold and refine a model in their head, ascribe forces, materials, money, and feasibility to it, and learn the technical proficiency to communicate this to others via agreed upon standards for communication of the design via plans.  Anybody can be taught to be an engineer or architect, the ones that make it however are the ones that can be taught to be effective in a reasonable amount of time.

I really feel for theoretical physicists, their creativity is on fronts where there is no effective language to communicate, and no predetermined system to describe their ideas to others.  Numerical equations exist, but they are but a small part of the understanding of the concept.  Einsteins special theory of relativity is a prime example.  It is a very simple concept mentally, yet there is no equation that can describe it, and it is very difficult to put into words.  Einstein's explanation with trains and clocks is very bulky and difficult to understand, others have described it better, but it still is always a very bulky and difficult to understand explanation, but the concept at the core is so very simple.  Scientific explanation as seen by outsiders is so very far behind the true forefront of understanding, at the very edge there is absolutely no means developed yet to communicate that understanding to others, it only exists in the mind and nowhere else.

Sorry for my spiel and back to photography.  I firmly believe that everybody has the ability of a master photographer in them.  But they need to develop it (there are no savants that can pick up a camera and be Ansel Adams from day 1), both by learning to describe what a great picture is using the boundaries of language (Flickr is fantastic training for this), which also codifies it for ones self so it doesn't require extra thought at each execution attempt, and learning the technical aspects of using the medium.  Over time and practice the visualizing of a great picture comes easier and easier, to the point where it becomes possible to "see" prior to clicking the shutter.  All of the aspects; lighting, composition, color, framing, become visible with honed practice, and findings one voice reflects a comfort level with regard to subject where the previsualiztion of the shot and subsequent execution of it comes with the most ease of all to the photographer, almost natural compared to other subjects and styles.  I am one person that feels strongly that your first 10,000 clicks are crap, that any great successes are more the result of an accident gone right than a meaningful success compared to later more refined photography that comes through experience, where understanding all of the variables involved and the having the ability to have complete control over them has been learned.  Even then this just makes a good photographer, a great photographer has complete and total mastery of every aspect of the image, from previsualization and subject, to execution and delivery in a finished form.

RacePhoto

« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2008, 15:07 »
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I won't be calling anyone a pompous anything, but I will disagree. I'll add that Hatman also has a good view of the circumstances.

Here's my take. We are born with nothing. We do not have innate skills or a many inborn traits and behaviors like most other animals. Whether we have any is debatable, but I'll avoid that argument by saying, we possibly have some.

No one is born a photographer, or artist anymore than they are born a fireman or airline pilot! Until someone finds a gene for creativity and perception, my opinion will remain unchanged.

The environment we are raised in and the education can mold a person into what they will see, feel and become. How we take in and use that information can vary, and for certain intelligence is a factor, but not an absolute. I'm of the opinion that the environment while someone is developing and growing up, is more important than any genetic, or inborn skills. We aren't born Artists or Not-Artists.

Someone can be trained to see and feel empathy for their surroundings. They can be taught to visualize and project. Taking an art appreciation course doesn't make you and artist, but it exposes you to composition and color. Music paints mental pictures.

The older one gets, the more difficult it is to add the new information and teach them to perceive things from a different viewpoint. It's not because you can't teach an old dog new tricks, it's because their brain has already formulated ways of thinking. (that, and sometime old dogs are too stubborn to learn new tricks) ;)

Young minds are more impressionable, flexible and more easily shaped. It's like soft clay vs some dried up clay. You can change the latter, but it's much more difficult to get it back into the state where it's able to be molded and formed.

What one person sees as "Art" and what another sees as pure trash, are very different. Still, if someone is shown the fundamentals and basics of that broad fuzzy thing we call Art, they will have a better feeling and understand for what they create in the future.

Learn the rudiments and the basics and all the techniques you can that go into anything. Then spread your wings and fly, with that knowledge. You can't fly without first growing the wings. :D

For those who believe we are born artists, you should have proof by showing someone who's never seen any art and never took a class, or never spent long hours training or even muddling through on their own, and they pick up a brush or camera and they are instantly... an artist. It doesn't work that way! Many people who I've seen who pick up a camera and are wonderful photographers in a short time, are already trained in some other form of art.

There's no magic, nothing inherited. You need the basics and a foundation to build on. True, not everyone can be taught and not everyone can see things from an artists viewpoint. That doesn't mean that all people can't be taught, only that some people, can't.

« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2008, 15:24 »
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* you guys are getting long winded

« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2008, 16:39 »
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I would entirely agree with your observations.  I also believe that there are a few artist's amongst us who have such finely tuned BS skills that they are able to convince a vast majority of viewers that their technique and images are rare and stunning.

When in fact their technique is sloppy and sorely lacking and their images are average at best.  They understand that perception can easily be manipulated with carefully honed site PR and they use this to full advantage. Just look at some of the overly saturated images with bizarre color temperatures that are accepted on some of the MS sites.  Without the carefully placed PR, most photographers would have images like these rejected!

I'd rephrase this a little bit. I think a good photographer can be made, but a great photographer is born.

I think we can learn basic rules of composition and lighting to get us from mediocre to good, but I think there are some who possess an eye for extreme detail and are very astute observers of the world who do things at an instinctual level that many of us could never learn. Or if we could learn it, it would too much time to actually think everything through and execute, and we'd still probably forget a lot of things.

Every see the movie Amadeus? That what this is about. No matter how hard Salieri tried he could never come close to matching the genius of Mozart. Things that never even occurred to Salieri were instinctual to Mozart.

With that said, I think there is case to be made for salesmanship.  I think a few good artists can become great if they can convince the right people that their work is also great.

But remember, we don't all have to be great to be successful. I think very few people recognize true greatness.

Just my thoughts.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 16:53 by gbalex »

« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2008, 17:02 »
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I would entirely agree with your observations.  I also believe that there are a few artist's amongst us who have such finely tuned BS .......

Amen to that, gbalex!! I couldn't agree more with that statement!!   And I am sure that some of my stuff is in that very category,  fact,  I know it is.  ;)
None-the-less, .........it sells. 
   I put it in this frame of light.  I'm sure there are many, many top notch, world-class chefs that wouldn't be caught dead eating in a McDonald's....
Yet,  if I told you how much my McDonald's stock has grown in the last 30 years...  it would become immediately evident that it doesn't matter what world-class chefs think of their menu fare.
    Yeah a lot of my stuff isn't  Ansel Adams excellence or whatever/whoever... but magazine and book publishers are buying it. I'm making money doing it and that is why I'm doing it.  For the money. I  don't expect anything I ever shot will be hanging in a museum in 100 years and if I drop dead tonight,  by this time tomorrow, no one here will even know it or miss me.  It's just business.

I do have images that I do think are beautiful and of high quailty. None of those are on any microstock.  But they do hang in private homes.  Some have fetched pleasantly remarkable prices in auction. And I have no doubt that many, many here can say the same or similar   
      .......sooooo........          ...  so what.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I know a shot is crap, as a pro in the biz, you know it's crap....  but some guy somewhere saw it and just paid for an EL....   that's why I'm in the micros.... to sell ..whatever will sell,  I'm not here looking to be in the Louvre by 2050.  And if I ever did make it to a museum anywhere.... It's not likely it'll be something that came out of my micro stuff...              unless, of course, the museum curator is the next Andy Warhol... :D

And, gbalex,  please don't take this the wrong way.  I am actually  agreeing with you.  peace 8)=tom
« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 17:09 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2008, 17:20 »
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LOL a.k.a.-tom

You prove my point exactly.

You are starting to sound like Rinder ;) 
   

« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2008, 17:34 »
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LOL a.k.a.-tom

You prove my point exactly.

You are starting to sound like Rinder ;) 
   


You know,  I take THAT  as a REAL compliment!!!   Although, I don't know that Rinder would  like to hear that comparison... ha ha ha ha ha ha.... 8)=tom

« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2008, 17:47 »
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I believe that photographers can have an "artist" eye, but stock photography is different.

It is, in mho, knowing what "media" needs to "market" goods, services,etc. - that makes a good stock photographer. Imagination too. And most important - the technical side of the camera. You can have all the "eye" you want, but unless you understand your instrument and light, your stymied.

On the other hand, I come from a family of artists, (published and commercial)
Father - artist,
Mother - no so,
daughter one - artist,
daughter two - no so,
daughter three (me) - artist. 

I am talking about the ability to paint, draw, the fine art stuff. The daughter that is not an artist visually takes after the mothers side of the family, where as the two daughter that are artists look like the father side. Coincidence?  I say genes.

Then again...
My husband - musician,
Mother (me) good ear, can't play an instrument to save my life.
Our Son... picked up guitar,(acoustic & electric) piano,trumpet,sax,flute, etc etc, at the age of 14, (self taught) no lessons, no interest before, never picked up an instrument prior, is 16 now and is writing his own lyrics and music, doing solos in front of large audiences, utilizing tracks of the many instruments he plays and making CDs. His talent is natural.

Too much coincidence here - I say genetics. My son was exposed to (and enjoyed) art way more than music.

Regards
Penny



RacePhoto

« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2008, 20:29 »
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you guys are getting long winded

I resemble that remark.  :)

I wouldn't say I'm good at stock. I don't think my "art" photos are that artistic. Some days I don't feel creative at all. Im actually more of a sports and events photographer.

But if you stand me outside, I can find things to take photos of in a minute. Put me in a room and I'll find something interesting. Maybe not to anyone else, but to me?  ;D I like going for a ride in the country just looking for things to shoot, sometimes I plan destinations and find more things outside of the pre-mapped places.

I played music since I was a pre-teen, multiple instruments. Mom listened to classical, Dad liked jazz. I got a nice mix in the process. Played in assorted types of bands, professionally, for over 30 years.

Does that make me an Art-Teest?  ;) I'm not so sure.

I think the BS and marketing side, which I didn't address, is what makes people money. There's a difference between marketing and sales and making a living, and when someone just does what they feel in their heart. Fortunately, sometimes they are one in the same. Usually not.

The original question was, are people born with a good eye, and can people be trained to have an eye. I say, we are born with a blank brain, (of sorts) and we can be trained. It's just harder to change later, than it is to be formed over an earlier growth period.

With that I say... give a kid a camera! Ask them to show you the world through their eyes. You'll be surprised, amused and it will be educational.


« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2008, 20:49 »
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On the other hand, I come from a family of artists, (published and commercial)
Father - artist,
Mother - no so,
daughter one - artist,
daughter two - no so,
daughter three (me) - artist. 

I am talking about the ability to paint, draw, the fine art stuff. The daughter that is not an artist visually takes after the mothers side of the family, where as the two daughter that are artists look like the father side. Coincidence?  I say genes.

Then again...
My husband - musician,
Mother (me) good ear, can't play an instrument to save my life.
Our Son... picked up guitar,(acoustic & electric) piano,trumpet,sax,flute, etc etc, at the age of 14, (self taught) no lessons, no interest before, never picked up an instrument prior, is 16 now and is writing his own lyrics and music, doing solos in front of large audiences, utilizing tracks of the many instruments he plays and making CDs. His talent is natural.

Too much coincidence here - I say genetics. My son was exposed to (and enjoyed) art way more than music.

Regards
Penny



coincidence is unfortunately discounted way too much -- your anecdotal evidence is useful, but not demonstrative, much less conclusive -  were none of these people exposed to music and art as they grew up?  did none of these people take any lessons, do any study to improve on that initial interest?

the nature/nurture debate continues, but it's rare to find any talent/aptitude that can really be ascribed mostly to genes. 

it's especally iteresting t consider something like photography which didnt exist 200 years ago -- what selective pressures could there have  been to select for an aptitude that had no selective advantage?

s

rinderart

« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2008, 00:09 »
0
I think it's a stupid question. Sorry. No camera or photoshop skills will help If you don't see it.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 00:11 by rinderart »

« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2008, 00:19 »
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I think it's a stupid question. Sorry. No camera or photoshop skills will help If you don't see it.

amen

« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2008, 01:45 »
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Just my opinion, I do not claim to be a master or even one of the greats. However, I do aspire to be, and I hope that history will remember me in that way.
But I was born an artist. Whatever the medium, from crayon as a child to camera and computer as an adult, I found inspiration in life, and created art.  You can teach someone to have a more artistic eye, give them a little peek into the way you see life around you, show them how things make you feel, but I believe that the greats are born, not made.  That does not mean someone can not learn to be technically correct, to study composition, and to be quite wonderful.
But to shoot a photograph just because you knew that was the way it needed to be shot, because it felt right that way, well, that's a gift that no one can learn.

« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2008, 03:00 »
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Science says certain types of recognition of art are inborn, therefore defined by genes, like the human preference for symmetry or the rule of thirds.
To express art is a bit more difficult. Even if your brain produces great ideas, you need training in the media you wish to express your ideas with. Training can be learned, with interest, enough time, effort and a good teacher by almost everybody.
Last thing is the great idea itself. Thats where artists are different. They think beyond the norm. And the ability to do so seems to be mostly inborn. So thats 2:1 for the genetics.

« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2008, 18:02 »
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Ever notice how it is always artists who ask this question? Then usually many of the artists will insist it can be learned. After all, they learned how to do what they do, and if they can learn it, and they know what they needed to do to learn it, surely anyone else can learned what they learned with effort, correct?
Perhaps, but maybe not. It is a really difficult question to answer and it is mostly being asked from the perspective of people who have successfully learned an art. It would be interesting to know the opinion of non artists, whether they would have the same opinion as most artists do. I agree that no one can just pick up their artistic tool of choice and be a master, but how many people can become a master with practice? That is almost impossible to answer, but I think having some talent gives one motivation to continue to develop that talent, where as it is much harder to motivate someone who does not learn as quickly. Therefore it could be a self-reinforcing process.


Quote
it's especally iteresting t consider something like photography which didnt exist 200 years ago -- what selective pressures could there have  been to select for an aptitude that had no selective advantage?

Interesting observation, but the same could be said for art of music, or story telling, all of these having been in existence since the first cavemen started making ochre drawings and telling stories around the campfire. What selective pressure was there for these attributes? How does being a good artist help you find food or outrun a sabre tooth tiger, or become more alpha than the guy in the neighboring cave? None that I can think of, and yet they exist.




Last thing is the great idea itself. Thats where artists are different. They think beyond the norm. And the ability to do so seems to be mostly inborn. So thats 2:1 for the genetics.

I agree that originality and uniqueness is what makes a great artist. There are many photographers who IMO have the same level of skill as Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell, or artist who can draw and paint as well as Leonardo DaVinci, but that in itself doesn't make them great. These guys were great because they were originals, they were the first to do what they did.  Originality is what makes greatness.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2008, 18:05 by marcopolo »

« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2008, 16:05 »
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I was not born with a camera in my hand, but I do get a few lucky shots now and then.  Funny, but come to think of it - the more I study and practice, the luckier I get.

(No I'm not full of myself - it was w. eugene smith if I remember who said something like that.  ;))


« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2008, 18:19 »
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I agree that originality and uniqueness is what makes a great artist. There are many photographers who IMO have the same level of skill as Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell, or artist who can draw and paint as well as Leonardo DaVinci, but that in itself doesn't make them great. These guys were great because they were originals, they were the first to do what they did.  Originality is what makes greatness.



I agree with that....  originality or uniqueness will breed greatness.  None-the-less.... that  'talent' (or whatever word one wants to use) was there first.

Posted by: Pixart

I was not born with a camera in my hand, but I do get a few lucky shots now and then.  Funny, but come to think of it - the more I study and practice, the luckier I get
.[/b]

Maybe not born camera in hand Pixart... but your portfolio does not bespeak   'a lot of luck'.    You have the talent,  you are developing it, you're good now and you will become greater as you move forward.  Michealangelo didn't do David  first time into the shop with a hammer and chisel.  8)=tom

« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2008, 18:43 »
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what a great thread.

my eldest daughter now 16, learnt the alphabet and taught herself to read (a biggish part from sesame street :) she hit school at 5 already reading books. I have a degree, masters degree and almost finished phd, I have the more advanced vocabulary but even at 16 she writes better and easier than I ever will, for her it just comes natural and easy. 

my son is in 5 year and sitting with the year 8 maths textbook. skims a chapter of instruction in a few minutes and then does the end of chapter review. occasionally he makes a simple mistake. his teacher complains he doesn't show working, he says he just sees the answer, to show or even do the working is extra work not a process along the way (personally I think he does it, but it is just that fast). I know more maths than him, but I worked hard with lots of practice. as long as he stays interested he will be well beyond what I know with only a small amount of work.

I have done so much logic and problem solving I often get problems and come up with a solution or two and people look at me strange. I try to explain that the answer is really not that hard, and really is obvious that just look even stranger.

makes me also think of movie good will hunting. I think if I was to put 100 hours a week into golf, I dont think I'd ever be as good as tiger woods.

BUT back to photos

Nowadays I look at an area and see the shots (or how a shot isn't going to work) I see more or better than I did a couple of years ago and that was better than a few years before (but it was always there).  The problem I still have is getting my vision of the scene into the camera, and even more so through photoshop.  The vision is there, just have to get the mechanics of the rest of it to happen.

I also look at some pro photographers around the place and see that really dont have it. I looked at a people workshop and come away with if thats what your showcasing then I aint interested.  I looked at studio specialising in headshots and would have cut what they showed in half. beyond bf/ff images there was a lot of images that were just bad artistically.

I started to write that it is all just learnt then editing and changing while I write I seem to have gone the other way. really I feel that you can be extremely good with a lot of hard work but to be in that extreme greatness it is born. I also think everyone has there own talents, my people skills are poor (stereotypical academic :) but my 2nd daughter will know everyone in the room within minutes :)


« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2008, 22:26 »
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Just my opinion, I do not claim to be a master or even one of the greats. However, I do aspire to be, and I hope that history will remember me in that way.
But I was born an artist. Whatever the medium, from crayon as a child to camera and computer as an adult, I found inspiration in life, and created art.  You can teach someone to have a more artistic eye, give them a little peek into the way you see life around you, show them how things make you feel, but I believe that the greats are born, not made.  That does not mean someone can not learn to be technically correct, to study composition, and to be quite wonderful.
But to shoot a photograph just because you knew that was the way it needed to be shot, because it felt right that way, well, that's a gift that no one can learn.

but of course, we have to take this on FAITH, since it's unfALSIFIABLE - anyone who posts here and says they learned photography is immediately accepted as someone who had an innate [unrecognized ] gift!

art is a CULTURAL artifact, CREATED by society, and LEARNED by its members.  some people are more adept than others in exploiting this meme, and again, it's a mix of nature/nurture, but gimme a break from the 'i waS BORN WITH IT' selfpromotion we're seeing in this thread


steve

« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2008, 00:53 »
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Interesting, I first think you need to reread what I said without making assumtions, second this is an opinion thread and that is what I gave.

"I do not claim to be a master or even one of the greats. However, I do aspire to be, and I hope that history will remember me in that way."  Funny that you see this as self-serving, looks to me like I said I am not the one to be the judge of my own work and that if I am ever called or judged to be a master or great, it will be history, (I.E. the claims and regards of others) not myself making the claim. Sounds pretty humble to me, really didn't believe it needed the longer explaination.

I would like to use your post however to futher explain my "opinion", whether you are a great mechanic, mother, painter, ballplayer, you are great when the inspiration drives you to find the craft, not the craft that drives you to be inspired. It is there that defines the difference between a great or master photographer/artist and an artist who produces some really great work.


« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2008, 16:44 »
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An interesting question, and bit of a provocative one too. Thanks for bringing it up.

One of the problems with photography, unlike most other art forms, is that it is very easy to get some sort of result. You can't paint a picture, write a poem or compose a concerto in a few seconds. But you can get a photograph. All you have to do is raise your camera to your eye and press the shutter. It may well be a lousy photo, but it will still be an image.

I've actually had people say to me "Photography's easy. It's just pushing a button."

As we all know, it isn't. Not only do you have to have the skill, you also have to be able to recognise that (as Ansel Adams said) "You don't 'take' a photograph. You 'make' it."

And you've got to be willing to do something about that ... learn the technical stuff, take time to find the right angle or composition, wait for exactly the right light, observe what you're photographing, come up with new ideas, and so on.

And I think that applies to good 'stock' as much as to good 'art'.

I don't know if this is relevant, it's not great 'art', but it's something I took last weekend. Our local archery club had open house. There were many people there with cameras, taking pictures of all the usual things - mainly archers pulling at bows, arrows in targets, smiling family with targets in the background, that sort of stuff. I took those shots too. But I wanted something a little different. All the conventional ones were static shots. I decided to try for a bit of action - to catch an arrow in flight ...



I didn't use 'burst mode' for this. To get it I watched the archer, seeing how he shot to a rhythm, and tried to match that rhythm. Of course, I got masses of 'dud' shots and the whole thing took me a long time. But once I'd got the handle on it I managed to capture the arrow in three different images, and once as it was half-way out of the bow.

I don't think you can teach someone to work like this. No one ever taught me.






« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2008, 17:10 »
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You seem very proud of yourself.

Cranky MIZ

« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2008, 19:07 »
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there was an interesting article in the NYtimes a few weeks ago about a camera that can take pictures BEFORE you press the shutter  - it can take dozens of phoots a second, so you end up with images that took place earlier - perfect for all sorts of sports events.

it does this by caching 60 frames/per second once you activate it;  each minute it throqws away the old 60 and adds the new ones; when you click, the earlier ones are saved.

the down side was this was a feature on a $1000 POINT & SHOOT camera, so would be great for hobbyists.  with any luck it will make its way into real camaeras soon.

s

« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2008, 19:25 »
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I didn't use 'burst mode' for this. To get it I watched the archer, seeing how he shot to a rhythm, and tried to match that rhythm. Of course, I got masses of 'dud' shots and the whole thing took me a long time. But once I'd got the handle on it I managed to capture the arrow in three different images, and once as it was half-way out of the bow.

I don't think you can teach someone to work like this. No one ever taught me.







this was the sort of example i had in mind earlier when i said that claims of pure innate ability are  unfalsifiable -- what you just described seems like a prime example of a LEARNED response - you examined the subject, made some predictions, tested them, and then improved your hypothesis when you got the 'duds'  - resulting in a great shot!

you dont need a teacher to learn - contrast this to what we should expect if this talent was BORN -- you could hand your camera to someone who'd never taken pictures, never seen an archer, and knew nothing of basic physics and they'd still get the shot you did - how likely is that?

steve

« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2008, 01:34 »
0
Quote
you dont need a teacher to learn - contrast this to what we should expect if this talent was BORN -- you could hand your camera to someone who'd never taken pictures, never seen an archer, and knew nothing of basic physics and they'd still get the shot you did - how likely is that?

The technique was learned, what wasn't learned was getting the idea to shoot something unconventional in the first place. He said that no one else there thought to try to get a shot like that. This is an example of original thinking.

« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2008, 01:57 »
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You seem very proud of yourself.

Cranky MIZ



I wouldn't say 'very proud'. 'Chuffed' is probably a better way of expressing it.

It's not 'great art' ... it's not even art ... I'll be the first to admit that. And it may not sell at all. Time will tell. But I got a great deal of satisfaction working to capture an instant that  (I don't think) any other photographer there had thought to try for.

Do you have a problem with that?
« Last Edit: April 29, 2008, 01:59 by Bateleur »


 

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