photo Quotable mondays (pQm) 3-18-13

One of the ideas about photography that really resonates with me is the idea of seeing. It is this intangible aspect of photography that involves looking and finding what is there that can be overlooked or missed unless you have an eye perceptive enough to find it.  A photographer who understands what it means to see is able to capture a moment in time that conveys something to themselves and to the viewer. Seeing I also think doesn’t just involve knowing when to press the shutter release. It also involves knowing what to crop and how to edit a photo.  I hope to post more on this idea of seeing in some of my upcoming Tuesday photography Tips posts.

One of my inspirations, Imogen Cunningham, has a great quote that talks about seeing as being something that can’t be taught it is a talent that great photographers have innately.  While it can’t be taught it can be developed if you have it.

There are too many people studying it [photography] now who are never going to make it. You can’t give them a formula for making it. You have to have it in you first, you don’t  learn it. The seeing eye is the important thing – Imogen Cunningham

You can learn more about Imogen Cunningham here.

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4 responses to “photo Quotable mondays (pQm) 3-18-13

  1. Not too argue the point made by ms. Cunningham as I basically agree, at least up to a point. Perhaps the ‘make it’ is not the same goal for each of us. Whether it is developing enough skill and technique to capture images to accompany the written word or make progress on a complete different personal track, ‘make it’ can be a very narrow and precise personal facet of photography.

  2. John,
    Thanks for your response. You are making a fair point about how defining “making it” is potentially a diverse goal that should be individualized to each photographer’s goals and desires. I am fairly certain that within the context of Ms. Cunningham’s comment she is speaking of making it as a professional photographer.

    The part of her quote that really resounded with me was the final part where she speaks about photographers need to have at some level an innate talent to be able to see photographically if their photos are to be more than snapshots. I don’t totally agree with her that it can’t be learned. I think it is a gift you have but that gift can be developed and stretched with work and practice.

    I would be interested to hear what you think about the need to see photographically if you want to be a photographer. Do you think it is something that can be taught to anyone like the skills to master the technical aspects of photography or is it a gift that photographers have innately and can develop?

  3. I think it can be taught to some. Technique is one thing, artistic vision, the artistry is another. Some will get the technique and never grasp the artistry. At the other end you can have those who may never master the technique but are able to get by because they do grasp the artistry. And some of those in the middle can be taught and will grasp the artistry. Though I am inclined to argue that it is more the immersion that allows one to learn the artistry. And that quantifying what elements to teach ‘artistry’ would be difficult.

  4. John,
    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I appreciate the feedback. I am working on a post talking about seeing. I like your identifying the technical and the artistry aspects of seeing in photography and the visual arts. You have given me some good things to process as I put together my new post. Hopefully, I will have this ready by Tuesday. Stay tuned.

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