I have always been an admirer of great photographs. Photography is one of those things that you don’t really think about until you try it and notice your shots aren’t nearly as interesting as the ones you see in magazines. For most of my life, I wasn’t particularly good at photography. To me, a great picture was a mystery, something with an intangible element that couldn’t be learned. One of the reasons I believed that was because I knew a few people who seemed like effortlessly great photographers. I could take a picture of the exact same subject matter, yet somehow their photo was vibrant and captivating while mine seemed flat and lifeless.
The Intangible Talent
There is some truth to the mystery, I think. Like any artist, some people do have an innate talent that seems to make them naturally fluent in their medium. But I was wrong to think they were “good” and I was “bad.” I simply never bothered to try learning some of the basic techniques that can make an average picture significantly better. Pretty much all of the arts have two fundamental levels: the first is learning the general skills and tips that anyone can memorize and practice. In photography it would be things like how to frame shots effectively, learning about aperture and shutter speed, etc. In music it would be basic theory on chords, scales, intervals, etc. And then there’s the second level, which is where the intangibles kick in: taking competency to artistry, transcending the rules by discovering your own.Read More