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10-29-2017, 06:26 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Are You Expressing Your Creativity or Just Pressing Buttons?

From time to time I always go to B&H's Youtube page and check out the instructional videos that they put up. I have ran across a lot of them that are invaluable to help teach me photography and to help me continue to improve.

This one at my current state of photography is the hammer that hits the nail on the head.

The title is very applicable. It's kind of long but it addresses so many questions that I see being posted here on the forum. Even though it's long I will probably watch this one at least twice.

This one is definitely on my recommended list. Get a pencil and paper ready though because there is a ton where you can take some notes on regardless of your skill level.




10-29-2017, 06:29 PM   #2
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Mods: How can I remove the 'Action' label from this thread? It has absolutely nothing to do with action, at least not specifically.
10-29-2017, 06:34 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Just removed it. Think you can change the prefix in edit -> go advanced too.

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10-29-2017, 06:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Just removed it. Think you can change the prefix in edit -> go advanced too.
Thanks! You're the man!

I am not really a tech savvy kind of person. I am glad we have you here!

10-30-2017, 04:36 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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1) focus; 2) exposure; 3) framing. If I get all three exactly right, even with "automatic" control of the first two, I count it a success. As I've noted before, there are artists whose chosen medium is photography, but that is not me. Only very rarely, once in fifty completely full 32gb cards there's an image where the nano-spec that is my creativity appears. Otherwise I search, I see, I click, but only extremely rarely do I imagine or invent or design. It's enough for me. Creativity or "vision" is not something you learn. Like being a musical prodigy, you either have it or you don't.
10-30-2017, 05:26 AM - 1 Like   #6
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What I try to do is look at a scene and feel it. That sounds flakey, but we respond emotionally to what we see. The range of emotions is very broad, from disgust to awe and everything in between.

Then I try to capture that emotion. When I succeed, people react with emotion. They laugh, they suck in their breath, they stare at it quietly.

That happens about once a year. It is very difficult to pull off.
10-30-2017, 05:59 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Creativity or "vision" is not something you learn. Like being a musical prodigy, you either have it or you don't
Not true. It takes a lot of study and hard work, but you have to want to do it. The right teacher(s) can help with that.
10-30-2017, 06:37 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
Not true. It takes a lot of study and hard work, but you have to want to do it. The right teacher(s) can help with that.
Not so sure of that. It's similar to "teaching students to think." You give them examples of logical thinking, you pose problems that require thinking to solve, and either they incorporate the models and they think-out the problems, or they do not. You cultivate what is there, but you do not fill a vacuum. Similarly with vision and creativity - - you cultivate, inspire, give examples, bring out latent talent, but if there isn't something there already... You can teach composition, lighting, darkroom technique, but you get a technician unless there is some latent vision and creativity already present. If thinking, talent, vision and creativity could be taught, we would have tens of millions of Newtons, Einsteins, Dickens, Faulkners, Shakespeares, Leonardos, Titians, Michelangelos, Eisenstadts, Karshes, Maplethorpes, Adams, Carier-Bressons, Capras, Westons, etc. No student would graduate short of being a creative genius. But it is not so. I'm primarily a technician. No matter how hard I might try, I could never be an Avedon, or more to my interests, an Art Wolfe.

10-30-2017, 06:53 AM - 3 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Not so sure of that. It's similar to "teaching students to think." You give them examples of logical thinking, you pose problems that require thinking to solve, and either they incorporate the models and they think-out the problems, or they do not. You cultivate what is there, but you do not fill a vacuum. Similarly with vision and creativity - - you cultivate, inspire, give examples, bring out latent talent, but if there isn't something there already... You can teach composition, lighting, darkroom technique, but you get a technician unless there is some latent vision and creativity already present. If thinking, talent, vision and creativity could be taught, we would have tens of millions of Newtons, Einsteins, Dickens, Faulkners, Shakespeares, Leonardos, Titians, Michelangelos, Eisenstadts, Karshes, Maplethorpes, Adams, Carier-Bressons, Capras, Westons, etc. No student would graduate short of being a creative genius. But it is not so. I'm primarily a technician. No matter how hard I might try, I could never be an Avedon, or more to my interests, an Art Wolfe.
This is quite a popular myth. I'll leave you to it.
10-30-2017, 07:15 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
This is quite a popular myth. I'll leave you to it.

I don't want to argue at length as this is far outside of PF topic, but mental ability - thinking, creativity, talent, etc - are not that different from physical athletic ability. How many boys learn football, baseball, basketball? How many come anywhere near close to the majors despite a burning desire to make it? How many aspiring actors go to Hollywood? How many get to the Oscar stage? The great myth is that a mind is a tabla rasa that can be molded into anything by the right experiences, by the right inspiring teacher. It is not so.
10-30-2017, 07:17 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
The great myth is that a mind is a tabla rasa that can be molded into anything
Nobody said that, except you. I can only conclude that you never really applied yourself in this endeavor. Nothing wrong with that, except you have no idea what you're talking about.

Have a great day.
10-30-2017, 09:32 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
1) focus; 2) exposure; 3) framing. If I get all three exactly right, even with "automatic" control of the first two, I count it a success. As I've noted before, there are artists whose chosen medium is photography, but that is not me. Only very rarely, once in fifty completely full 32gb cards there's an image where the nano-spec that is my creativity appears. Otherwise I search, I see, I click, but only extremely rarely do I imagine or invent or design. It's enough for me. Creativity or "vision" is not something you learn. Like being a musical prodigy, you either have it or you don't.
I respectfully don't agree with your assessment. Creativity and vision BOTH can be learned. Case and point, me. I can't draw two stick figures but back when I started photography I did it as a way to develop and use my creative side. Even Ansel Adams went through a process of learning to be creative and artistic. A friend of mine who is a really famous artist (painter) gave me a book to read called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". I challenge you to give it a go.

Much of the principles of art (painting) carry over into photography. I personally have barely scratched the surface of all that but to say that it requires education is an understatement. Once you know some principles you just practice those and move on to others in a slow upward climb. Some people learn faster than others.

Photography for me is about observation. Don't just look at some object or scene and say 'that looks cool', but rather, where is the light? What kind of light is on it? Where is the light absent? When would be a good time to shoot? 6am or 7pm? What about right before or after a rain storm? Basically there is a deliberate attempt to capture by prediction.m Seeing light is definitely a learned skill.

I am far from good at it, but I am light years ahead of where I was 3 years ago.
10-30-2017, 09:41 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Not so sure of that. It's similar to "teaching students to think." You give them examples of logical thinking, you pose problems that require thinking to solve, and either they incorporate the models and they think-out the problems, or they do not. You cultivate what is there, but you do not fill a vacuum. Similarly with vision and creativity - - you cultivate, inspire, give examples, bring out latent talent, but if there isn't something there already... You can teach composition, lighting, darkroom technique, but you get a technician unless there is some latent vision and creativity already present. If thinking, talent, vision and creativity could be taught, we would have tens of millions of Newtons, Einsteins, Dickens, Faulkners, Shakespeares, Leonardos, Titians, Michelangelos, Eisenstadts, Karshes, Maplethorpes, Adams, Carier-Bressons, Capras, Westons, etc. No student would graduate short of being a creative genius. But it is not so. I'm primarily a technician. No matter how hard I might try, I could never be an Avedon, or more to my interests, an Art Wolfe.
The thing is with photography you're not doing math. There is not really a mathematical formula like thing to make pictures work. You're trying to connect with people. Capture and idea, a feeling, a meaning, or anything that can evoke a response in the audience.

Imagine if you will walking through the woods at dusk and you and you are going down a small path then come up to a gradual clearing. It's snowing hard. It's COLD. You can see your breath. Fresh snow is about knee deep all around you and you're walking around in it. Then when you walk just past a certain point you see a solitary log cabin with lights beaming out of the windows and you see smoke bellowing out of the chimney.

Can you envision in your imagination what that scene would 'feel like' in your mind? It's like that.

Writers can do it. They can write to evoke emotion. People who make movies can do it. And so can photographers.
10-30-2017, 04:43 PM   #14
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I think you are talking about slightly different things.

Most people who want to can acquire reasonable proficiency in photography. With effort, they can learn to reliably take technically sound and aesthetically pleasing photos, with maybe the occasional standout. For most of us that's probably all we aspire to. But Walt used the word genius. That's something else. No amount of piano practice can turn a competent musician into Mozart. Mozarts are born. Maybe there are latent Mozarts whose genius waits to be unlocked - but I'm sure they are few.

It's elusive with photography because the difference between highly skilled and genius is more contestable. And to be honest each rung up the ladder is harder than the one before. I look at the work of good photographers and see just how many rungs there are above. If I tried hard enough I could climb several more rungs. Some of those rungs involve inspiration and creativity as well as technical skills. But the top rungs would always be beyond me because they are reserved for those with more creative imagination.

Years ago I lent my camera to an artistic guy. He had never used an SLR. Straight away he took brilliant and imaginative photos that I could never have envisaged. I could see what he had done and I learned something. I learned to see better. But on the ladder of creativity I could never be on the same rung.

Last edited by Des; 10-30-2017 at 05:25 PM.
10-30-2017, 05:14 PM - 1 Like   #15
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There's something democratically reassuring about the idea that we could become Masters at anything - from cooking to brain surgery - given enough practice, but it may not be true.

Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert? - BBC News
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