I’ve been having some deep discussions with other photographers lately about the need for shooters to develop good technique. In the midst of these discussions though I remembered something from my one and only art class in college – There is no technique without expression.
My art teacher believed that pretty much anyone who really wanted to could learn the technique required to provide decent deliverables in any artistic endeavor. I have seen this myself. When teaching brand new photographers, they very quickly run up the ladder from rungs one through nine. They acquire decent technique if they apply themselves. But going from rung nine to 10 – well that’s a different animal all together.
Technique leads to craftsmanship if you’re really talented and really apply yourself. And in the eyes of my art teacher, the next step is expression. My teacher said you need to learn technique not in and of itself, but as a means of expression. It was at this moment that I first started developing my long-held theory that the creative photographer is really a storyteller. This is where that idea was born for me. It’s very ethereal. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at me right now saying “Not another post about storytelling!” But I do think this is important. I also think it’s very hard to describe let alone teach. Hence, the reason for today’s post.
My charge to you is simple. Don’t just learn camera or photo technique. Learn it as part of a means to an end. Learn it so that you can more fully express your own inner, authentic vision. See what you need to see. Practice in your medium. Develop technique and THEN think about what is important to you. The next step is developing craftsmanship and THEN you’ll be on your way to truly, honestly and openly expressing yourself as a photographer.
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