Throw Your Second Best Camera At Them
Yes, I was surprised. I still am surprised.
Some weeks ago I ran a poll on Facebook group On Every Street. The question was: Do you think that there is connection with the degree of formal or non formal education and the ability to take good pictures? There were three possible answers to choose from: 1) Yes, definitely; 2) No, not at all and 3) I have no idea.
When you run a poll like this you always have some kind of anticipation of the answers that will come. My anticipation did not come through. That is why I am surpised. I my head there certainly is a connection between formal or non formal education, and what you are able to do as a photographer. I simply went dead wrong here. Or did I?
Today, July 13, 2011 the poll results are: 1) Yes, definitely 3 votes, 2) No, not at all 29 votes, and 3) I have no idea 2 votes. Question 2 leads by a huge, huge margin.
There are many ways to explain this result and why there is such a huge difference between my anticipation and the poll result. One explanation is simply, that I have not been precise enough in my question and the options given for answering. A second explanation is that people have not read the question properly before they made their mark.
A third explanation is, that there simply is a severe divergence here. And now I must learn.
The point is, that I am not willing to learn from this. I do not agree, that there is no positive connection between the level of formal/non formal education and the ability to take good pictures. Show me one picture of high quality, that has been taken by a photographer with a low level of formal education and/or non formal education. Show me two pictures, show me three pictures. To be on the safe side: show me five pictures. I want to rule out pure accident.
Or even better: Point me to a single excellent photographer that have no formal education and/or no non formal education. I don’t think such a person exists. Please point me to him or her. And I will be willing to pull back these sentences and change my opinion. Slightly.
I am of this opinion: Formal and/or non formal education is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition for the ability to produce good pictures (or for that matter excellent pictures). If you don’t have either of it, is not very likely that you will produce pictures of these kinds. You will never make it as a photographer without either of them. The reason I can say this, is that I frankly don’t believe that such a person exist. That is the good news.
All of us have degrees of formal and non formal education. That is our competences. Up to a certain point of education this will, in my humble opinion, be a benefit in trying to take good pictures.
That said, it is interesting to speculate about this: If formal education/non formal education have no value on quality, then where does quality come from? One road to explaining this is to say that quality comes from inspiration, from genius. It is inherent in the individual photographer and education or non education have nothing to do with it. Give Mr. Wildman a camera and he will instantly start taking good photographs. Not likely is it?
Such an explanation would have been feasible some 30 years ago, but not today. Some very lucky people may have a natural potential for good photography, may have been born with a talent or capacity for it, I certainly do not argue agains that. Brilliant people starts there. However, without recognition of talent, without nursing and feeding it, talent goes nowhere.
The good thing is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In this case the end of the tunnel is very close to its entrance, so you don’t need to walk that far to find it. Here is my recipe: Get out of your chair, find the nearest mirror, and start looking at yourself. If you see glimpses of talent don’t continue resting on your laurels. Go get to some formal, or non formal education, and move from potential to actual talent. If someone tells you that it cannot be done, throw your second best camera at them, because it is simply not so. It is not true.
Good photography is hard, hard work.
Good luck with it. Love to see your pictures.