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Archive 2012 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....
  
 
AuntiPode
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p.1 #1 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Saw this today.

http://vimeo.com/24715531

Enjoy.



Feb 20, 2012 at 10:40 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


+1

That's EXACTLY where I've been, where I'm at ... and refusing to give up ... where I'm going (I hope).

Guess I better get "busier".

Is that kinda like "fake it till you make it" ??



Feb 20, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #3 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


As much as I like Ira Glass and as much as I like what he said, I am not sure this was specifically intended for photography and in particular for the digital state of things where one can shoot themselves silly, and we often do (the evidence abounds).

Indeed, not giving up is crucial to accomplishing anything in life. Practice practice practice is always good.

There are major differences between knowing technique and making great photography. Aesthetics just like technique are nothing but tools which serve the purpose of delivering a message/meaning.

Personally I found that slowing down and purposely thinking out the message is where the power of the image lies. I am not sure I quite care for a so called "decisive moment" when I can actually have ongoing moments even in photography and bring true meaning to the art.

I also think that we all know instinctively good from bad photography that we make.

As soon as I printed my first images it was evident that taking images, developing/creating them and having also full control over printing was crucial. Frankly, how many of us think we have lots of images worthy of being printed and framed? I concentrate on fine printing above all if I have to highlight an area of the process that I call the moment of truth and live that pain. It is OK to be uncompromising. It is Ok to do a print over and over and over...until it is precisely the way you want it instead of making up excuses for it.

This is really not that difficult. The way I see it if I am doing images I don't like, I can just choose to stop doing them and take my time crafting those that I like.



Feb 21, 2012 at 02:04 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #4 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


The problem a beginner has is an inability to be self critical, in part because they don't have clear goals in mind.

That's true in any enterprise and the more complicated the task the more important it is to have clear goals and criteria which define success in meeting them. That a lesson I learned from managing complex projects with teams of people. If everyone doesn't understand the goal and agree on the most viable strategy to meet it everyone will go off in different directions spinning their wheels, seeming to be going fast, but not moving the project forward.

I apply that principle in my photo and lighting tutorials. I start with a simple goal, create a flattering portrait. The next step is making a checklist of all the criteria you personally think make a portrait flattering. That forces one to consider things like facial angles, lighting patterns, and contrast ratios between highlights and shadows.

What that process of defining criteria does is allow you to evaluate each portrait you take against them and become self-critiical, not to someone else's criteria, but your own.

Where tuition fits into that framework is providing insights to the student regarding what criteria should be considered. For example most beginners in portraiture don't pay much attention to precise, balanced facial angles and might not connect the dots regarding why some seem to look better than others.

In my experience intuition plays a huge role in how people learn new things. Some people are simply more intuitive than others with brains are inherently wired to "connect the dots" of new information with what they already know. They will be able to look at the same face taken from slightly different angles and "connect the dots" and see what about the camera angle made one of them more flattering. Seeing that intuitively they will incorporate it into their shooting workflow and in future sessions the camera will seem to find the more flattering angles automatically.

One of the things doing C&C on photos of others did for me was force me to stop and think about why all the things I had come to do instinctively without much conscious thought worked— reverse-engineering the clues I reacted to sub-consciously. That ties back into the goals and criteria for success. All the things on my checklist of what contributes to a flattering portrait are all the things I react to subconsciously when taking one. By giving my check list of things to look for to a beginner they will have a goal oriented, criteria defined "blueprint" to follow like a set of house plans. From that set of criteria they can add, delete or modify to suit what they find to be most flattering but they will be doing in within a problem solving framework which will allow them to be objectively self-critiical based on evaluation their results with their criteria for success.

Practice, practice, practice alone doesn't lead to improvement, learning to set goals, define criteria for success and from them becoming objectively self critical does. The clearer the goals and criteria for success the faster you move up the learning curve.

Mentors and teachers are helpful because they understand the bigger picture goals and how the smaller incremental ones fit them. But in the end the most valuable lesson a teacher can provide is giving the student an effective framework for solving the next problem they have never seen before.










Feb 21, 2012 at 05:45 AM
oldrattler
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p.1 #5 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


cgardner wrote:
The problem a beginner has is an inability to be self critical, in part because they don't have clear goals in mind.

That's true in any enterprise and the more complicated the task the more important it is to have clear goals and criteria which define success in meeting them. That a lesson I learned from managing complex projects with teams of people. If everyone doesn't understand the goal and agree on the most viable strategy to meet it everyone will go off in different directions spinning their wheels, seeming to be going fast, but not moving the project forward.

I apply
...Show more

I have to agree with Chuck... As a relative newby digital shooter it does little to "spare & pray".. When they do get the really good one, they do not know how they got it.. A teacher / mentor / honest critique is essential to improvement... Confucius said,""Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." ... One must learn to see the image...



Feb 21, 2012 at 02:52 PM
sbeme
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p.1 #6 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


thanks Karen

Scott



Feb 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM
GCasey
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p.1 #7 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Chuck makes some excellent points.

There's a tremendous difference in having 20 years' experience and having one year's experience 20 times.

George



Feb 21, 2012 at 03:51 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


I think you guys are missing the point a bit.

IMO ... it wasn't suggesting a "spray & pray" or volume approach to learning.

Rather it was suggesting that AFTER you go through your difficult and frustrating periods where things aren't quite 'clicking' for you ... and THEN you've come to work through them (and to expect that you'll experience such periods) THAT'S the time to get busy and take full advantage of being in YOUR "zone".

I liken it a bit to Steve Garvey's take on "Practice Makes Perfect" ... i.e. "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect". Repetition reinforces profiency, so it is wise to reinforce that which is good and change that which is not good, lest you reinforce bad. Once you develop and recognize that which you are producing is good / in line with your vision & goals ... KEEP GOING, GET BUSY.

Kinda like when a player breaks out of a shooting/hitting/pitching/etc. slump. While he is in the slump, he needs to investigate/evaluate what/why/revisit/rethink is not going the way he wants it to ... work on making those changes and when he gets "hot" again ... GO FOR IT while you're on your "A" game.

There will be times when you are NOT on your "A" game ... diligently (i.e. not "Spray & Pray") work through those times with your eye on reaching / restoring your "A" game. When you get back on your "A" (or B+) game, ride the wave of your positive improvements and KEEP GOING. But for the newbies ... don't get discouraged that you go through such periods of things not yet being "A" game material ... EVERYONE DOES (even if they won't admit it) !!!

+1 @ volume / "spray & pray" of poor/same effort will NOT grow a person ... but, my take away was that one should learn to recognize the time for "slow & grow" vs. the time for "get up & go". For newbies, they can be disappointed / frustrated because of how "easy" others make it look. Practice, practice, practice is valid ... as long as you are practicing the right/good things and not simply repeating/reinforcing poor habits/technique/etc. Doing the same things over & over again, and expecting different results (i.e. change from not good to good) is the definition of insanity in some circles. (Which, btw, is different from doing the same thing repeatedly (i.e. "Perfect Practice") for the purpose of increasing proficiency and intuitiveness in good things.)

Like anything that is to be developed/honed/mastered, etc. there will be different times in the cycle of such. Don't be DESPAIRED by the slower ones ... don't be AFRAID to embrace faster ones ... and LEARN to recognize the difference between the two.


If you think it is advocating "Spray & Pray", etc., I'd suggest you take a look at it again ... and see how it comes across on Round 2. Imo, it was actually advocating the need to grow past your "junk" phase (and you aren't immune) and working toward/expecting a subsequent "breakout" phase ... and THAT takes TIME.

http://vimeo.com/24715531



Feb 21, 2012 at 04:49 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #9 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


RustyBug wrote:
I think you guys are missing the point a bit.

IMO ... it wasn't suggesting a "spray & pray" or volume approach to learning.

Rather it was suggesting that AFTER you go through your difficult and frustrating periods where things aren't quite 'clicking' for you ... and THEN you've come to work through them (and to expect that you'll experience such periods) THAT'S the time to get busy and take full advantage of being in YOUR "zone".

I liken it a bit to Steve Garvey's take on "Practice Makes Perfect" ... i.e. "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect". Repetition reinforces profiency, so it is wise
...Show more

Based on your interpretation of the video I will agree with what you are saying.. As a weight lifter, "works through the pain", the unpleasant periods of development, we must likewise... We must take an introspective analysis of what we need to get over the hump.. If based on the presupposition it is a beginner, I still agree with Chuck...



Feb 21, 2012 at 05:44 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #10 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


+1 @ the beginner being a "blind leading the blind" effort ... which I think is contained in the video where it tells the beginner "What you're making isn't so good", "it's trying to be good", "but it's not quite that good", "it fell short", etc.

It THEN is talking about transitioning OUT of that phase and into the next (and here is where the "ramp up" is being suggested). The beginning phase is about learning what is good (and realizing that most of your early stuff really isn't so much). The following phase is about increasing proficiency of that which is good (once you've learned to differentiate "isn't so good" vs. "good").

I didn't get anywhere in it that it was telling the beginner to "ramp up" the volume (that's just mass production of more junk) ... more like telling the beginner that you are delusional if you think you're stuff is good ... you don't even know what good is yet. That's where I felt the point was being missed, not that Chuck isn't right @ beginner's being blind ... just that the video doesn't suggest for the beginner to "ramp up" ... but rather you need to get good (which can take YEARS) and THEN "ramp up".

On a personal note ... I think I've produced about three pieces in the last two years that are starting to "HINT" at becoming "good" and feeling a bit of my own vibe. I'm hoping that by 2014 I can get to where I can produce one "good" image per month. I used to be delusional to think that I could get to a place where I would be able to produce one "good" image a day. As my definition of "good" perpetually changes, so do my timeframes and timelines. Check with me in 2014 and I'll be hoping to produce one "good" image per year. By 2020, I'll be hoping for one "good" image in my lifetime.

Old school "Master" and "Apprentice" included the apprentice being told for years that their work was not "good" ... making progress toward, absolutely ... but a Master's definition of good is a far cry from those who think it is going to be a quick or easy path to "good" ... or what the masses consider "good".

Of course, OEM marketing would suggest that everybody can be good as soon as they buy the latest & greatest techno marvel.

Edited on Feb 21, 2012 at 06:31 PM · View previous versions



Feb 21, 2012 at 06:00 PM
 

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GCasey
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p.1 #11 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


If we keep on repeating the same action over and over with no thought of improvement, we'll keep on getting the same results. Practice does not make perfect. Intelligent practice will help us improve. It goes beyond mechanics, though that helps.

My wife taught private music lessons -- piano, voice and organ -- many years. Even I, a non-musician, could tell which students really practiced and which went through the same motions time after time.

A member of our camera club has started winning ribbons. She has worked at it -- compositon, design, layout, exposure, lighting, etc., and her efforts show in the quality of images she shares.

Another member who taught art for 26 years is learning as much as she can about painting with light. She already had much higher than average skills, and the quality of her newly gained skills in this arena are improving very rapidly. She studies what she is doing and continues to do a better job with each new image.



Feb 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #12 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


I like Chuck's school of thought here. I've watched my work improve over the past year and a half because of a balance of my own intuition, my sense of observation (studying others work), practice, mistakes, acknowledgement and determination to correct mistakes, gradual improvements, muscle memory and so on.

I do, however, get lost in my vision at times, and in that forget that there is a larger viewership that needs to 'get' my photo in an instant. Because of this, I sometimes marry myself to a concept that I, of course, 'get' immediately, though it might not resonate with another viewer on the same level.

I'm no stranger to visual art, having penciled all my life. With that, tabletop photography is a new (2 years) medium for me. I've been successful in applying the principles I exercised as a graphic designer to my photography, though sometimes I give in to subjectivity. I've always grappled with 'letting go', and it's something I'm making a valiant effort to correct now.

I'm able to slowly overcome this by setting career goals, constantly admitting that there is more to learn, objectively critiquing my work, asking questions, and absorbing the answers. Assisting on a professional level is a major influence, too. And pursuing that career was a conscious step in the right direction.




Feb 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #13 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Kent, George, & John; I agree with everything that is being said with reference to beginner vs advanced photographer improvement... But does there become a time when an advanced individual can not get past their problem?? At that point, would they not seek help from a teacher / mentor / additional study?? I find myself looking at my work and being dissatisfied while other praise it.. Am I being overly critical, or is my type "A" personality pushing onward?? We all approach photography for differing reasons, but presumably one goal; to produce quality images.. I have reservations that all photographic problems can be resolved with more practice.. As was stated, repeating a mistakes does not correct the problem.. Jim


Feb 21, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #14 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Well, I happen to agree with you that one shouldn't be pleased with their own work. I think it's only natural that you aren't. That's a healthy blend of confidence, creativity, determination, and insecurity, all working toward self-improvement. And we all grapple with it!

I think seeking guidance at any level of expertise is both wise and constructive for personal growth. Sure, eventually, it becomes less and less, but even the greats have their heros.

Repeating mistakes begets more mistakes. Learning from them yields something entirely different.



Feb 21, 2012 at 09:44 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #15 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Skarkowtsky wrote:
Well, I happen to agree with you that one shouldn't be pleased with their own work. I think it's only natural that you aren't. That's a healthy blend of confidence, creativity, determination, and insecurity, all working toward self-improvement. And we all grapple with it!

I think seeking guidance at any level of expertise is both wise and constructive for personal growth. Sure, eventually, it becomes less and less, but even the greats have their heros.

Repeating mistakes begets more mistakes. Learning from them yields something entirely different.


Thanks John, I sometimes feel I am the only photographer that can not get "The One"... Going back to Kent's earlier comment on producing fewer but better images, I am attempting this same approach.. If it was good enough for Ansel Adams who am I to complain.. Ansel Adams once famously said, "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop."

Edited on Feb 22, 2012 at 02:16 PM · View previous versions



Feb 21, 2012 at 10:57 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #16 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


oldrattler wrote:
Kent, George, & John; I agree with everything that is being said with reference to beginner vs advanced photographer improvement... But does there become a time when an advanced individual can not get past their problem?? At that point, would they not seek help from a teacher / mentor / additional study?? I find myself looking at my work and being dissatisfied while other praise it.. Am I being overly critical, or is my type "A" personality pushing onward?? We all approach photography for differing reasons, but presumably one goal; to produce quality images.. I have reservations that all photographic
...Show more

Tiger Woods ... undeniably "good" ... was not satisfied with his swing and sought help to re-invent it. Who was "better" than Tiger (at that time) ... nobody, yet he still solicited assistance in his goal to re-invent himself beyond what he felt was a plateau that needed to be eclipsed.

Whether a person seeks out someone "better" than themselves to learn from, goes off to find a Guru to assist them or does their own instrospection, it typically involves a degree of observation and analysis as to what it is and why it is that you are wanting to change (i.e. improve). Of course, it is preferrable to solicit input from those who can both distinguish "good" and critically assess the problems that are involved with status quo.

For me, FM'ers represent a wide diversity of what constitues "good" and depending on my goals, I benchmark against FM'ers in one regard, but always with an eye to where I'm trying to go, rather than necessarily trying to emulate others.

Obtaining critical analysis (genuinely critical) is key, but it probably should come from those who at least have an understanding of where you are trying to go. Kaden comes to mind ... very few of us can really be very critical of his work, because very few of us have a clue where he is trying to go. Kaden's recent recognition in his circles provide some validation to how "good" he is ... but I'd suggest that to a large degree, Kaden is out there on his own.

If I'm aspiring to be as "good" as Ansel Adams, then I need to understand what makes AA "good" and work toward that end ... likewise, if I aspire to be as good as Renoir or Picasso. But for me, to be truly "good" is to develop yourself to the level where you have "command & control" over that which you are aspiring to achieve.

For much of the world, people associate "good" with that which is well regarded by others. In that manner, who "others" is has a degree of relativity to it. Some people might think AA is good, while HSB isn't or vice versa. But to me, it is their "command & control" that makes them "good". Often times, people associate being different as a mark of being good. Nothing wrong with being different, but imo, far too many people chase "different" in order to get the "wow" response rather than the excellence of "command & control" that is revealed in the smallest of refinements.

We start out with "gross" ideals as to what constitutes "good" ... and through perpetual refinement, we come to realize just how "gross" or "refined" we are / or are not. Someone like Dale Chihuly is very much different from others right from the start, yet a review of his progression reveals degrees of both refinement and grandeur as well as different and an approach of collaboration and brainstorming. But in all of that which he does, the issue of "command & control" ... alongside his vast exploration into further unconventional developments that he can incorporate via "command & control" is a thread that remains. Jackson Pollock also comes to mind ... although to the uneducated casual observer, it might look like utter chaos. Both intentional and subsequently "re-invented", the issue of "command & control" is his to own.

So, when you ask the question @ advanced improvement, whether it be with Tiger Woods, Dale Chihuly or Jackson Pollock, they approached their improvements in different fashion, but at the heart of the matter, the continued to strive for refinement in "command & control" ... even if it looks like chaos.

Caveat ... be careful of the AA quote becoming an excuse/crutch for volumes of mediocrity en route to "the one". For me, it is not "Practice, practice, practice" ... but rather "progression, progression, progression" that yields refinement of "command & control".

No matter what others say/think at a given point in time ... if my work today is as good as my work next year ... I suck.



Feb 21, 2012 at 11:07 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #17 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Psychologists who study temperament and how it affects learning have tested thousands of people over the years and studied how personality affects learning and work performance. Here's a summary of learning styles based on Myers-Briggs personality archetypes: http://web.cortland.edu/andersmd/learning/MBTI%20Table.htm You can find more detailed descriptions of the archetypes here: http://typelogic.com/ This page shows the breakdown of type by % by gender: http://www.timeenoughforlove.org/MBTI.htm If you are curious what your temperament is take this test and find out: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

The breakdown of intuitive vs. sensing types is 33% intuitive vs. 66% sensing. That helps explain why teaching in a formal setting is traditionally geared towards the "ducks in a row" lesson plan approach needed by sensing types. Intuitive types find that approach slow and plodding. Part of the challenge as a teacher is finding ways to keep the intuitives engaged while dragging the sensing types up the learning curve one small step at a time.

Jimmy Buffet sings the intuitive's theme song in the chorus of Cowboy in the Jungle:

Roll with the punches
Play all of his hunches
Make the best of whatever came his way
What he lacked in ambition
He made up with intuition
Plowing straight ahead come what may

That's pretty much the theme song for my life and so far its worked out OK for me so far.

I suspect that anyone advocating the "just shoot a lot and you'll figure it out" approach to learning is likely an intuitive who hasn't realized yet the majority of people aren't intuitive enough to have success with that approach. That's why schools exist and why people come to the internet asking basic questions they could answer, if their temperament inclined them to, by just trying things systematically and observing the cause and effect.

Those who do things well instinctively aren't always the most effective teachers. Teaching require taking a step back from doing things instinctively and putting yourself in the shoes of the clueless newbie who knows nothing and has no intuition. In a traditional classroom environment you can assume the student in lighting 301 has taken and passed lighting 201 and 101. But that's not the case on the Internet. Here people ask ad hoc questions, often based on incomplete or incorrect assumptions about the underlying basics. You can be sure they will connect the new dots of information into an overall problem solving framework correctly.

One of the reasons I hang out in C&C giving advice is that I've observed that on the Internet people learn best from their current baseline: the last photo they took and thing is great. If I edit their photo and show them how it could be done differently they will better understand why than if only a verbal explanation was given. It's not that they won't understand the verbal explanation but rather they will not validate it until they see it actually work — that's part of being a sensing type: you only validate what your can confirm with your senses. Intuitive types will validate new information even without trying it if it is seen to work for others successfully or similar things they have done have worked.

The way I teach is different from the way I shoot myself because I understand you can't teach intuition or creativity. You can only teach the cause and effect clues you've learned to react to intuitively over time. It's up the intuition of the student to do the same cause and effect experiments, connect those dots and learn to solve problems with them and then armed with technical competence do something creative with it.

It is pretty much a safe bet that 66% of the people who come to the internet asking basic questions are sensing types. If they were intuitive types they would just get off their ass, experiment, analyze, and figure out the answer themselves, or find a book or other source of information without the need for an opinion poll. It's probably an equally safe bet that the 10% of the people who hang out mostly to help answer questions are intuitive-thinking types who learned by experimenting, analyzing and figuring out the answer themselves.






Feb 22, 2012 at 03:24 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #18 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


Meyers-Briggs is fun, but psychologists disagree on it's usefulness. For example, I test as an INTP, but the confidence level of the differentiation on each of the four cognitive functions is low, meaning that I may prefer INTP choices, but I'm comfortable with the alternatives. I suspect, if 66% prefer sensing to some degree, it doesn't mean they can't learn with some intuitive methods.

Fortunately, people can find many different sets of help. Hopefully, something will prove useful.



Feb 22, 2012 at 03:59 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #19 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


The M-B archtypes are polar opposite traits. The fact your test results are somewhere in the middle of the extremes Karen just means you are well balanced with respect to those traits.

Introversion - Extroversion is one of the more obvious traits. I once did a poll of photographers who took the test and most tested as Introverts. That makes sense because the extroverts are usually out in front of the camera doing interesting stuff. I found shooting weddings exhausting do to the stress of dealing with the people, which I wasn't comfortable with at the time because I was very introverted. Over time I'm become more extroverted and now enjoy situations that would have made me uncomfortable back in my 20's.

My mentor Monte Zucker's popularity was due in large part to his off the wall extroverted-feeling personality. It is also the secret to his long term success in the wedding business. He sincerely loved sharing the joy of the couple and their parents on the wedding day and it was reflected in his attitude. His "batteries got charged" from the interaction with the people, not from the photography. I suspect a lot of photographers burn out after 5-10 years because they lack that ease and joy of dealing with people that comes naturally to the extroverted-feelign types. Because all things considered in a mom-and-pop business 90% of the success is due to marketing and sales acumen.

Observing Zucker and being intuitive enough to understand I didn't have that type of personality was one of the reason I never again did photography for hire as a solo-practitioner. I enjoy the photography well enough, and know how to do marketing and run a large business quite well (what I did for a living), I just don't like to do sales and all mundane tasks it takes to run a "mom and pop" business. I lack "entrepreneurial zeal" preferring instead a steady job with a good pension plan.

I've always thought "outside the box", a NP trait. J types like order, P types thrive on change. I'm a odd mix of the two because I like to change things, but systematically so that things that need to be controlled are done so with the least amount of effort which leaves more time in the day for goofing off and doing fun stuff. While I'm now close to being a "System Builder" INTJ than any other type I also have a lot in ENTP "debater - rocket scientist" traits. I thrive on change and did well in my career by being the person in the organization always suggesting new ways to do things. Change is always a hard sell, so I became an advocate for my ideas and like a debater learned to anticipate every counter argument. An ENTP trait is being able to argue on either side of a question. Back in the late 70s I saw computers and databases as the ideal way to conform a business to procedures, which is more important in a large one than a small one. So I taught myself to program, did some sample applications and convinced the magazine printer where I was production process manager to buy me an $80,000 WANG system to built it.

I'd gotten the production manager job a few months earlier after submitting a unsolicited suggestion to reorganize the customer service department as a team-based matrix of self-sufficeint product line oriented teams, using Myers-Briggs to put people into jobs best suited to their temperament: extroverts dealing with customers, introverts in the behind the scenes support roles, and a N-T type over in the corner doing the job planning — what I did been doing in a separate planning section when I made the suggestion. I got the idea from reading my wife's MBA text books. The team matrix what the structure Boeing used in its manufacturing operation. I just intuitively connected the dots between the problems I saw at work with communication and in-fighting between functional sections and those two solutions combined together. It's common today, but was a radical idea back in '77 coming out left field from someone with no formal management training or credentials. Two weeks later my boss invited me out to lunch, told me my memo found its way to the CEO, an ENTP, who liked it and ordered it implemented it as written with me as the external process manager. I got my start in management by literally reinventing the company's customer service with Myers-Briggs insights. That's part of why I'm a fanboy; I've seen it work and pay dividends when applied.

The J part of my personality is that I've always liked to be in control of what I'm involved in. In my early teens I'd read Machiavelli's "The Prince" where he writes "Minds are of three kinds: one is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is excellent, and the third is worthless. "

What Myers-Briggs did for me as an extreme NT type is show me the value of all types of people. In the context of a running a large manufacturing operation like printing you need a lot of reliable people who have a "bricklayer" temperament who like the routine of knowing what they are supposed to do and get personal satisfaction from building a level wall with perfectly matching mortar joints - which isn't easy if you have ever tried bricklaying. When you put people who don't have that temperament into routine mundane jobs they screw-up, and bitch and moan about the work. I've never been very good at mundane repetitive task because I get bored, day dream and screw up.

What attracted me to computers and developing "expert" databases systems is the ability of computers to handle the boring tasks and eliminate redundancy linking information relationally. Since I was a job planner and estimator before becoming production manager some of my first applications were estimating programs which automated all the arcane information like paper basis sizes and weights, which differ for different types of paper into a application a customer service rep. could use to create an estimate using pull-down menus. The application addressed the compliant of the CS rep of needing to wait for an estimator to do the task, and eliminated the need for the estimating department.

By the time I retired from the State Department I'd automated every aspect of our publishing operation with databases I created in my spare time. Every key stoke on every form was entered into a database non-redundantly and with each modification time stamped. I created a "dashboard" application for my desktop that had a window for each application showing new record creation, modification and job status flags I'd build into applications to trigger "management by exception" intervention. I was never an IT person and the IT bureaucrats considered me a dilettante because I was using Macs and and the Filemaker database application they didn't support or approve of. I was able to do what I did for a simple reason: the people I reported to saw it worked and supported it.

I shouldn't be any surprise that my approach to photography is no less systematic. In fact it was discovering Adams' zone system early on that helped form my systematic approach to solving business problems: identify all the variables affecting outcome, identify the one that creates the biggest problems in the workflow, then design a system around making it the constant in the equation.

In Adams system a print made on #2 paper was the constant. The scene was measured and film development adjusted all with the goal of perfectly fitting the #2 paper, which makes the printmaking in the darkroom pretty much a no-brainer. That in turn allowed the task to be delegated to others. Adams would dodge and burn his prints to make localized adjustments, but he made that systematic also by creating tissue overlays which a darkroom assistant could follow like a blueprint to guide the manipulation. The Machiavellian part of Adams system is that simplifying the print making around the standard #2 print range allowed him to spend less time in the darkroom and more time shooting and writing books.

The fact photographs are reproduced digitally has not changed the way the brain responds when seeing them. The same thing that make an Adams print seem real — a full range of detail as seen by eye when scanning the scene — is still need in a digital capture. The problem is that digital capture is incapable of doing that most of the time in ambient light.

The difficult part about teaching photograph now, vs. back in the B&W era is that it is much more difficult to work around the problem of the scene not fitting the camera's sensor range than it is to get a beginner to understand that the negative range and print range need to match to produce technically competent results. The definition of "correct" exposure changed from a full range of tone as seen by eye in a B&W to "get the faces looking normal" when shorter range color film was introduced.

The biggest roadblock standing in the way of combining creativity with technical competence is learning to fit the scene to the range of the print or in the case of digital the sensor. So for a beginner today I think its actually more difficult to wrap their heads around what is required to produce a technically competent image with a full range of tone. In part because whatever the camera can produced is deemed "correct" exposure. If the highlights are blown and the shadows lacking detail? That's OK since that's the new "normal".

The problem in terms of temperament is that the types of people who are the most creative generally have the least amount of interest in the technical aspects and distain anything that appears to be systematic, rule driven or conventional. That's evident in the way those with polar opposite approaches and temperaments constantly butt heads in forums like this.



Edited on Feb 22, 2012 at 04:08 PM · View previous versions



Feb 22, 2012 at 11:56 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #20 · A suggestion for folks new to photography....


+1@ dual mode learning ... good stuff.


Feb 22, 2012 at 02:04 PM
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