Learn, Evolve and Network!

 

Tuition and Learning.Two ever-present buzzwords in today’s lifestyle. The irony of it all is that in the sphere of photography, with all the teaching and learning opportunities there are, most of those jumping on the popular photography bandwagon are sadly drastically cutting corners where one cannot cut corners – in technique!

Now before I am accused of being obsessed with photographic technique, please note that I am not. I struggled (and keep on struggling) with technique. Like most others, I prefer just taking the camera out and shooting. I think it is the fun of photography, but one just cannot get the utmost enjoyment and improvement if one does not know the foundations of the medium. Do you think that Rembrandt and Caravaggio started dabbling around without first studying technique? Can one imagine Shumacher driving Formula One cars without first getting his driving licence? Surely not!

Technique is the start of one’s photographic progress. Without it, the work will not have the right depth or meaning. It’s like an artist doing abstract without knowing the classical.

Today it is commonplace that people are buying a good camera, taking it out of the box and becoming “photographers” without even opening the instruction booklet! It’s similar to me buying a scissors through Ebay and from the day I receive it, I convince myself that I am now a hairdresser and I start cutting hair! Laughable, yes, but this is what is happening in the vast majority of cases – and, unfortunately, not only in photography.

It seems people have no time and patience for gaining an academic grounding in their passion and medium. I have been in photography for over 30 years and I still find myself trying to evolve and learn new things. The fascination of having a passion for a subject is the fact that one wants to learn more, improve his skills, challenge himself, question if he is doing things the right way, explore, create and mainly keep the fire he has inside him kindled and strong.

I have been teaching photography for over 15 years now and the best advice I can give to people joining the ever increasing ranks of “wanna be photographers” is this:

Learn, Evolve and Network.

It is only through the sum of these three elements that we can see our photography meeting the challenges ahead and achieving the required results. It is the only way forward to again rediscover photography and not just keep shooting “pretty useless” pictures and losing the real power of the medium – which is to document, to stimulate, to shock, to explore, to pass a message.

Let us not lose the history and the life that is going on all around us for the sake of just shooting models, landscapes, flowers and abstracts!

4 thoughts on “Learn, Evolve and Network!

  1. Since a full time course is not really an option in cases such as mine, an evening part time course would be the perfect solution. And with regards to the darkroom initiative, I’d sign up immediately for that…would love the see the magic unfold. Thanks Kev.

  2. HI Alan,
    thanks for your observations and valid comments. Yes, they do strengthen my current feeling of what actually is the overwhelming trend of today’s photography, particularly on our island.

    As for your question on tuition, I am afraid that there are few current options. Apart from some private courses and MIPP courses, the only other academic qualification I know of, on our island, is the Higher National Diploma at MCAST which I had pushed for years to be in place.

    This is a 2 year full time course. I am working towards making this also as a part time evening course in the near future, and if that occurs, it would be ideal for someone with your passion and drive to explore all the challenging facets of photography.

    A bit of good news is that I am contemplating on setting up my old conventional darkroom for the purpose of giving practical workshops on what seems to be a dieing art.

  3. Amen Kevin. I fully agree with the contents of your article. In fact, I just saw a local (well-followed) “photographer”s latest shoot on the beloved Facebook and was going to post the following rant on my wall…

    “The sad state of photoshoots these days…lure pretty model [check], spray and pray [check], make glowing eyes in photoshop [check], over-saturate colours [check], create huge imbalance in skin tones [check], insert pretty/distracting sky [check], vignette photo like crazy [check], publish too many photos on Facebook [check], tag people on images to get greater exposure [check]”

    The sentiment somehow resonated with your write-up…Too many people want to grow up too fast. In all honestly, sometimes, I might have been guilty of this myself too. Many-a-times, I might have sought recognition for my mediocre attempts when I should have held my palms open and let someone beat them with a stick for taking photos for all the wrong reasons.

    Social Media these days don’t help either. They’re like the polaroid instant photo you suddenly share with thousands of people, many of whom you do not even know. The likes, shares, thumbs up, +1s …an ego trip in the fragmented world of media and attention-seeking photographers. But now I realize, that after all, these social networks are mostly a way to please the masses, the majority of which are uneducated in the field and cannot discern the beautiful from the hideous.

    Also, after seeing some lacklustre work from well-known professional photographers, I understood that recognition does not equate to craftsmanship either. I might offend some people here, but who still uses selective colouring in portraits in this day and age?! Yet people still love it and there is still demand for such images (regretfully so).

    Kevin, this leads me to my question then…

    What are the best local tuition options for someone with a 9-5 job like myself who does not necessarily wish to become a professional but wants to learn the craft really well? Where can I go to learn to become a ‘light technician’, to be immersed in stuff like the inverse square law, the golden mean and the actual darkroom?

    P.S. On another note, thank you for abolishing the use of cameras in the upcoming MIPP seminar. That alone has improved the event tremendously!

  4. Sound advice Kevin indeed. As you said everyone is in a hurry to jump ahead and want to be exposed as the MADE artist. Very few want to learn the ropes… pity.

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