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!