What is the identity of photography? It may not be as valued today or classically seated with it’s creative counterparts, but at its core, it is art. Normally it is assumed the work and what it takes to become a photographer is quite easy; preposterous!
Everyone believes that they can take a picture, hence that makes them a photographer. Sure, anyone can take a photo. Synonymously, anyone can paint, but will that painting be something of an Avant Garde degree or of prime standard? Though such is dependent on the observer and one’s perception of acceptable, question is… will your work separate you from the herd?
Photography is art, being artistic is not a skill, it is a talent. A skill is inculcated, facilitated and developed by man. Talent on the other hand can be described as being innate, instilled by God. A person cannot be taught creativity, no one teaches creativity, what you believe to have been taught was already innate to you. You however, can be taught the process to exude creativity, but that process is not what gives you creativity. The quintessential photographer bears many accolades, he is not just an artist or visual composer but also a technical savant and lighting director. It is important to understand that in order to be the quintessential photographer talent alone will not suffice, skills are required.
Talent is not what operates a DLSR camera in manual mode, those are skills inculcated, facilitated and developed. You were not born with the knowledge of operating a camera, however it could easily be proven from an early age that you possessed artistic abilities without the interference of mankind’s notions and precepts. This is where skill meets talent, hence photography is at the apex of artistic composition. In no other facet of still artistry is the skill required to operate tool, combined with talent as exhaustive and immense as with that of photography.
An artist picks up a brush, mixes his paint, selects surface and constructs his composition. The brush and paint represent his tool. Simple tools which do not require any form of advance understanding to operate. A photographer picks up his camera, turns it on, selects his composition, frames shot, sets his ISO, adjusts F. Stop, increase-decrease shutter exposure time, adjust focal length (exclusive of lighting setup)…snap! Of course the principal factor between the two would be the time it takes to construct the image. There are many strengths and weaknesses with both aspects. However an artist mainly operates on the basis of pure talent, without the requirement of skills. It is worth understanding therefore, that even if a person is a talented artist with an abundance creative thoughts, it is no good to him as a photographer if his skills of operating a camera are inadequate.
Similarly, a person who lacks creativity/artistry but is highly skilled with the understanding and operation of a camera may often end up in what is known as, “photographer’s rut/block” having few or no ideas of his own to construct compositions.
Over the past few months I’ve spent a vast amount of time capitalizing on my artistic abilities as well as my skills of operating a camera in diverse scenarios which require quick thinking and thorough manipulation of such abilities. What I have garnered through such is this: Good taste is an inhibitor of greatness. Do not allow yourself to be defined by the parameters of mankind, good taste is what keeps you average and undervalued. If you want to exude excellence, keep that quote in mind. It came to me whilst observing the work of some of two of the world’s most accomplished and creative photographers, Seb Janial & Karl Taylor.
I have learnt that to be the best and stand out from the herd of photographers and herd mentality, it is imperative that you find your niche/style and capitalize on it through an uncultured perspective. There are two factors which facilitate creativity: curiosity and awareness. That is to discover, explore and establish whilst being aware of that which already exists, but being sure not to tread the same path that has already been trampled. Create your own sphere of excellence and let others marvel in awe. Step outside the sphere of social conditioning and precepts of mankind which has taught you, “Yes, this is how things work and this is what defines true standards of perfection.” Nonsense! It is those standards that have worked to inadvertently limit you your entire life, those cultured beliefs have restrained you like reins to a horse. If you allow yourself to be defined by the standards others have set for you, or that which you have been taught, then I’m sorry, you’ve been deposited deep in the rabbit hole of societal conditioning. Enlist your mind to think in an unorthodox manner, do not allow yourself to be confined and confused like rats in a labyrinth.
There is a creativity in you, whether born of talent or inculcated skills. All kids are creative-Pablo Picasso; it is when they start to grow and societal conditioning sets in that such becomes thwarted. All artists are creative, they are capable of uniquely recomposing that which already exists visually or imaginatively, despite such, the fact that a person is an artist does not necessarily make them more creative than a person who isn’t. Therefore my fellow reader, the secret to the creativity and excellence in you is already within you, even if it is NOT a God given talent.
Like I said initially, creative cannot be taught or spontaneously impress itself upon you, only with the right condition it can develop gradually and be sustained. Dedicate yourself to developing your skill or expanding your talent emotionally and intellectually.
Truth is: You don’t have to be an Einstein or Newton, it has nothing to do with your schooling or IQ- It has everything to do with the process.
Strip back the layers and at the core of the best photographers and you will find: Diligence in assimilation of information, amalgamation of ideas, a lack of good taste (Uncultured Perspective) and for some, there is the addition of talent.
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