Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887)

I’ve never been able to draw. In fact, the crude little pictures I turn out are fit for little more than a good laugh and a flick towards the garbage, but despite this, I’ve always had a desire to fashion a beautiful picture. Something that captures attention and allows the viewer to lose themselves in it. It is for this reason perhaps, that I find myself gravitating towards photography.

Photography is more accessible to me than other visual art forms. I don’t have to be able to have fine motor movements, I don’t have to walk out on stage and perform – no, I just have to watch the world and try and approach sights, places and people from a different perspective. In a way, although this skill, this ability to pick unconventional viewpoints is the most difficult to master, I find the thought less of a burden than the task of training my muscles.

And perhaps there’s always hope too. Whereas I can never see myself being anything more than a stick-figure drawing schlep, I can envision in myself the ability to take _good_ photographs. Maybe not great, not the most arresting – but good. Enough for people to stop and consider. It’s that hope that keeps me pursuing this…ideal.


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  • Photography doesn’t necessarily have to be looked at as forming/capturing a different perspective: often, it is simply recording what is amazing, beautiful, different.

    It’s odd to me that there are art classes which emphasize the specific methodologies of art and are graded upon these methods. Art, IMHO, comes best when you express what you think is there or not there or what you are imagining: capture that beautiful or awkward scene and don’t think of the composition of the shot, just what looks good (if that’s what you want to convey) or how does this manner of capturing the shot convey what I want it to?

  • Yes, you’re correct – photography can also be used to simply record an event. However, I believe a talented photographer can record the same event in a way that is much more arresting (or just visually more appealing) than a novice.

    That raises another point however – “What is the point of the photograph?” (I believe this is what you were alluding to in your first sentence). If it was to simply record the event, then both the novice and expert succeeded. But if you want to go beyond that – that’s probably a difficult skill to master.

    I’ve never taken a university or even high school level art class. I’ve often been tempted to sign up for a course in photography. I was under the impression however, that these classes simply exposed you to the fundamentals of the field. What techniques have/have not worked, what are some good guidelines to keep in mind etc.

  • That isn’t a bad idea. One suggestion, if you just want to something artistic, is to yes take photos. But you have a digital camara, why don’t you try some photoshopping to make real life more “artistic”. You can do some amazing things with photo-editting software. There is still some huge skill required to do a great picture, but hey just a rambling idea…

  • Novice Photography classes are one of those few art courses that teach you techniques of what have & have not worked. You are then evaluated on how well you have applied the techniques.

    Quite often, and this is what bothers me, is that in most (whether novice or expert) visual art classes (other than photography classes), you’re supposedly evaluated under the pretense of artistic merit (not just technique); however, when it comes down the evaluation, you are evaluated upon how well you have applied the techinques that were taught. Hence, pretense of artistic freedom constrained by technique. This seems hypocritical to me since art is about expression. There are very few art instructors that I have met who allow their students to follow whatever vision they have of a certain art work that they want to create and help them achieve this vision, this expression. These rare instructors then evaluate the student on artistic merit. I think the rare method works: the student still learns techniques, but the student learns and applies them as he/she sees fit or has the passion to do.

    It is true that photography also serves the purpose of recording, but that’s not what I meant. There’s a certain expertise required to capture a moment that moves people. It can be as simple as a kitten playing with a ball of yarn: the novice might know how to align the shot, what the shutter speed should be, how to adjust the aperature for light balancing and the expert, will think beyond that: at what point in the movement does it embody the mood of the kitten the best, where in the setting does the lighting illuminate or darken the kitten to convey the mood etc.
    There’s also the idea of capturing things that aren’t always noticed, such as the peeling bark of a birch tree and yet, it’s not the same as simply recording. I view recording as something like taking pictures at a birthday party and you can know your techniques, take good shots, but it’s not art as much. Perhaps this doesn’t make any sense at all . .. art is one of things that is hard to define and describe.

    and I just realized that I re-iterated almost exactly what you said .. .