Jack of all, Master of None

22 01 2011

This may seem at odds with the preceding blog but not completely, there are degrees of difference.

Take a look at the body of works of many truly successful photographers like:

  • Ansel Adams
    Henri Cartier-bresson
    Nick Rains
    Heather Angel
    Andy Rouse
    Joe Cornish
    Steve Mcurry
    Frans Lanting

Ask yourself what sort of photography does this photographer do? In most cases you can give a simple answer e.g. Nature or Photojournalism or Landscape etc. This is where I believe the approach taken by photographic society’s and camera clubs fail.

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If you play a musical instrument you will understand you don’t learn a piece of music by playing it through once then move on to the next. You have to keep on practicing it until you get it completely, dynamics included. There is a parallel here. You don’t take a picture in one genre then move on to something else.  You have to practice in that genre to truly get mastery.

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This is why specialisation in a particular genre is important for growth. So whilst its is good to stretch yourself, it is important to stick at something and be passionate about it in order to get to a level of mastery that’s not superficial or indeed, without feeling. Unfortunately the wildly varied themes set by many photographic societies actually encourage superficial forays into various genre without really spending the time and effort to excel in any of them.

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The rationale behind this is often “Oh it stretches everyone and gets them out of their comfort zone!”  Athletes needs to do more than just stretch to excel in their disciplines. They don’t get good at golf by playing cricket, baseball and football. So stretching is good but it is best if it is confined to the genre you have chosen.

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