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Author Topic: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?  (Read 10519 times)

Cornershot

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2011, 01:55:20 PM »
Probably most people in the world can't be taught to throw a 100 mile an hour fastball or even 80. And there are plenty of minor league ball players that have dedicated their hearts and souls into getting into the majors but never do. And there are plenty that can't even make it into the farm system. It's nice to think that sheer will gives everybody the same chance. But the truth is that there's a lot of physiological variation between people. You wouldn't say that everybody in the major league is number one but they all have the ability to outperform most of the world in that sport.

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2011, 01:55:20 PM »

DJL329

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2011, 03:24:40 PM »
Probably most people in the world can't be taught to throw a 100 mile an hour fastball or even 80. And there are plenty of minor league ball players that have dedicated their hearts and souls into getting into the majors but never do. And there are plenty that can't even make it into the farm system. It's nice to think that sheer will gives everybody the same chance. But the truth is that there's a lot of physiological variation between people. You wouldn't say that everybody in the major league is number one but they all have the ability to outperform most of the world in that sport.

Body and mind.  Apples and oranges.  Sorry, but you really can't compare the two.  You can't learn to be 6' tall -- believe me, I've tried!  ;)  In any case, physical ability doesn't necessarily translate into success, so the point is moot.

As Hillsilly correctly pointed out, not everyone has the will power/drive/desire to get up early in the AM and do what it takes to become the best.  That is what separates the best from everyone else.
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7enderbender

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2011, 04:21:02 PM »
We spend allot of time here comparing equipment and extensively analyzing the pros and cons of bodies, lenses, etc.

However - many people say, that the real ingredient for producing special pictures - is the skill of the photographer. Many all time famous monumental photographs where taken black and white with "simple" equipment. The special part of those photos is often the content and meaning of the picture - much less the "sharpness" or other tech features.

How important is our equipment ? Would you agree that it more like 85% skill and 15% equipment ?


I think that really depends, as many have pointed out already. The technical aspects of photography are not really "hard" compared to other skills and art forms. Good equipment makes it both, easier and more flexible. Non of this has to do with composition, "having an eye" and the creative thought process. Yet good tools are always a plus. Using a screw driver to stir paint can not exactly be attributed to being creative if you know what I mean.

And for some things there are certain minimum criteria. I personally always liked playing with depth of field so fast and or long lenses and big sensors/film are a plus. In the film days this was relatively affordable. With digital today it's on average more expensive. My first digital camera, a point & shoot just couldn't do much of what I wanted it to do. So that was a clear technical component that was not sufficient. But for most of the other aspects it wouldn't really matter if I was using my 5DII, a Leica M9 or an entry-level Rebel kit and whatever is messed up or flat out boring is due to my own limitations and not the cameras'. In fact, I believe that some equipment challenges can help improve skills.
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Hillsilly

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #33 on: October 13, 2011, 08:39:33 PM »
Probably most people in the world can't be taught to throw a 100 mile an hour fastball or even 80. And there are plenty of minor league ball players that have dedicated their hearts and souls into getting into the majors but never do. And there are plenty that can't even make it into the farm system. It's nice to think that sheer will gives everybody the same chance. But the truth is that there's a lot of physiological variation between people. You wouldn't say that everybody in the major league is number one but they all have the ability to outperform most of the world in that sport.

You are right in several aspects.  Physiological differences play a part in sport.  But there are all sorts of sports.  Some favour strength, others agility, precision, accuracy and endurance.  Some people are better suited to football.  Others might do better at lawn bowls.  And at the top end of any sport, it is the very minor differences that separate the best from the rest.  Just because you want to play a particular sport, it doesn't mean that you're ideally suited for it.  But photography has so many aspects, portraits, wildlife, landscapes, macro for example, and most of the top photographers tend to find a niche. 

I agree that wanting something to happen and working towards that goal isn't necessarily going to make it happen.  Plus, the world is a hard place.  Despite putting their heart and soul into something, people often still fail.  But does that mean that people shouldn't try?   

My belief is that if you spent 5 years full time at photography (both practicing and also studying art) you would develop artistic compositional knowledge.  You would be virtually as good as almost any other photographer.  The thing that would stop you being seen as a great photographer probably wouldn't be your ability or style.  It would more likely be your self promotion, marketing, and contacts.  Its a crowded world out there and its hard to get noticed.  Your financial ability is also a major limiting factor.  Getting a job in a related field that gives you the freedom to pursue your goals is difficult.

To use your baseball analogy.  If you're playing minor league baseball, doesn't that still make you one of the best few thousand in the world?  Wouldn't you be almost as good as the major league players?  Despite being a hard place, the world is also full of opportunity.  As a photographer, you can choose your own path.  You're not reliant on a talent scout, coach or somebody else giving you a chance.  And there's no rankings in photography.  You can just get out there and do it. 
 
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DBCdp

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #34 on: October 13, 2011, 10:12:14 PM »
Trying to look at something like art by percentages is where the key mistake is made. All things are a matter of perspective, especially art! Talent? Well that's a given. As is equipment. There are people that simply cannot take a good picture. There are those that it would seem cannot take a bad one! The argument though about talent is better left to a subject of physical skills, like track as an example. Either you CAN run the 400m in 47 seconds or you can't. If you can get close to that you might be trained to capture that goal. If you run a 65 second 400m then it's highly doubtful you'll ever win any medals in that event.

A professional, in almost any sense of the word, is a trained amateur. Ever think of that? Everybody that is famous started somewhere, and many of those starts were not at all impressive. So the will to use the talent you have to grow to the level you wish is a key, equipment is a tool to get you there. And many times it's in the breaks one gets. The right person cared enough to give a chance and it was an opportunity seized that led to fame and fortune.

Thankfully we have Canon to help us along our way! :)

Edwin Herdman

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #35 on: October 15, 2011, 11:16:06 PM »
99% skill 1% camera
Here's a brownie box camera, go make macro shots 8)

Truth is that the camera does most of the hard work these days.  Of course, going beyond the same possibilities everybody else sees and doing something truly wonderful requires something more than knowing what the camera is capable of - perhaps.  Maybe it's mostly knowing the camera's limits.  Whatever the case, you can't take the camera out of photography.

spaceheat

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2011, 12:24:01 AM »
100% equipment. As long as anyone has the latest camera with the highest MP count and a fisheye lens, s/he will be regarded as a photographic genius... and they will become very rich like Gary Fong... and live on some yacht down in Hawaii.

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2011, 12:24:01 AM »

Caps18

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2011, 10:26:36 AM »
I have taken some great pictures with different cameras.  I am more consistent with the 5DM2.

I can give my camera to my Dad to take a picture, and if you don't know what you are doing, the camera won't help you frame the shot or get the timing right.
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Cregg Annarino

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2011, 10:58:29 AM »
Unfortunately photography is one profession that anyone can just buy a camera and become a photographer. Does it mean they are good at it..no.....You can't buy a stethoscope or scalpel and just become a doctor, or buy new golf clubs and become tiger woods immediately or buy a fast car and become a Nascar driver....these things take time to learn and actually perfect the skills needed to perform.

A camera is a camera, most people that start new photography businesses don't even know how to use their own camera. Lots shoot and let the camera make all the decisions.

There is a difference between just taking photos of people or things that happen to be in front of you and trying to genuinely create something amazing through direction, use of light, angles etc. Photography is all about the light, for landscapes it's being there at sunrise or sunset. For people it's posing skills, making them feel comfortable and being able to see the good light and using it to your advantage to make them look their best, plus picking the right lens to compliment your subject whatever or whomever it may be. For weddings it's the same except you usually have a time restriction during your days.

If you can't see the light or create it, know how to compose, know how and take the time to learn and actually be able to use the camera to it's fullest, or know how to interact with and direct your clients and know how to use light on your subjects creatively to make a killer photo then a new 7000 dollar camera isn't going to really help you. 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 11:16:11 AM by Cregg Annarino »

DJL329

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2011, 11:30:23 AM »
Unfortunately photography is one profession that anyone can just buy a camera and become a photographer. Does it mean they are good at it..no.....You can't buy a stethoscope or scalpel and just become a doctor, or buy new golf clubs and become tiger woods immediately or buy a fast car and become a Nascar driver....these things take time to learn and actually perfect the skills needed to perform.

A camera is a camera, most people that start new photography businesses don't even know how to use their own camera. Lots shoot and let the camera make all the decisions.

There is a difference between just taking photos of people or things that happen to be in front of you and trying to genuinely create something amazing through direction, use of light, angles etc. Photography is all about the light, for landscapes it's being there at sunrise or sunset. For people it's posing skills, making them feel comfortable and being able to see the good light and using it to your advantage to make them look their best, plus picking the right lens to compliment your subject whatever or whomever it may be. For weddings it's the same except you usually have a time restriction during your days.

If you can't see the light or create it, know how to compose, know how and take the time to learn and actually be able to use the camera to it's fullest, or know how to interact with and direct your clients and know how to use light on your subjects creatively to make a killer photo then a new 7000 dollar camera isn't going to really help you.

Well stated!

BTW, I think your quote should be:

"You can't buy a stethoscope, scalpel or golf clubs and just become a doctor..."   ;D
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Rocky

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #40 on: October 18, 2011, 02:59:55 PM »
In my humble opinion, It will take ALL three: Talent, hardwork (skill) and equipment. There are a lot of good photographer. But not that many great photographer. I know I may start another contraversial discussion here. Give a medium range camera to the average people and teach them how to take picture. He or she can become a good photographer, if he or she will work hard enough. That is what I mean by hardwork and skill. However, in order to become a great photographer. He will need talent.  I known some posters here do not believe in talent is being burn with. I am a firm believer that talent is being born with. Our brain is just like any other part of the body. Every body have different physical appearence, height, eye color, hair color etc. Our brain is also different. So people will be born with different talent.
As for Equipment, It also play a very important role. Most of the time, it will determine if it is a good picture or a great picture. Also it need the right equipment to do the right job.
Ansel Adam will be a good example. No body will argue that he is not talented and not hard working. He use huge view camera. He needs the detail, almost zero gain for the picture. His equipment can never be used by any sport photographer. No matter how talented the sport photographer is.
So great photography is talent, skill and equipment, not necessarily in the exact order. They are just like the three legs of a three legged stool. Some poster may say that if you have talent, you will have skill. That is for another discussion.
However, to be a good photographer, you still need skill and equipment

Orangutan

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2011, 10:45:46 PM »
I known some posters here do not believe in talent is being burn with.


You may be talking about me; if so you're partially correct.  I think this discussion is fairly important because these ideas affect the way we move through life, and how we treat others, as well as how we treat ourselves.  I absolutely agree that we're born with differences.  Some you mentioned above, others I'll note here: 
 
  • Some males are born with a genetic condition that gives them a diminished ability to distinguish between green and red
  • There is speculation (so far, I believe, not accepted by the scientific community) that some females are born with an enhanced ability to discern color.
  • Some are born with hearing deficiencies, or even completely deaf; others have conditions that give them superior hearing (e.g. Williams syndrome)
  • Some are born with genetic defects that prevent them from developing full cognitive abilities, e.g. Down's Syndrome or autism. (Yes, I know autism isn't purely genetic, but there's a strong correlation)

 But the notion of "talent" does not refer to a mere enhancement of one, or even a small number, of normal abilities, it is much more complex than that.  For most people, "artistic talent" refers to some predisposition towards creating works that are perceived, by a subjective audience, as having certain very desirable qualities.  Let me motivate my argument with a few examples:
 
 
  • Consider some of the "talented" 20th century abstract painters: how would their works have been perceived in, say, pre-Renaissance Europe?  They would have been considered childish scratchings, and the "artists" would have been advised (or compelled) to take up another line of work. 
  • How about the singing of Robert Plant?  Is that talent or noise?
  • How about the many artists who were not beloved until after their death?  Their contemporaries judged them to be without (much) talent.
  • Now how about yourself, Rocky: I gather from your writing that you're not a native speaker of English.  (Let me digress briefly to say that I wish I could write in any foreign language as well as you write in English.)  Do you write English imperfectly because you don't have talent for it?  How about me?  I don't speak, for example, Mandarin.  I could probably learn some, but would never be fluent enough to pass the "telephone test."  Do I not have a talent for it?  If you had been born in an English-speaking country, you would be fluent, and I would be fluent in Mandarin if I had been born into that language.
 
That's enough preamble, now on to my argument: as a practical matter, "talent" is merely a skill that you learned without knowing it.  Could there be some genetic predisposition?  Quite likely, but we have no way to know.  Because the final product is such a blend of innate ability, early learning, developed skill, life experience, opportunity, and even interest, there is simply no way to extract that element called "innate talent," and hold it up to the light for all to admire.  In a sense, "talent" is only recognizable in hindsight.  If we see someone who creates a piece we like, we can say he is "talented."  If we see a child who shows promise early in life, but never advances beyond a certain stage, we can say "he wasted his talent."  The problem is we really don't know either of those for certain.  Furthermore, if we see a middle-aged woman who has struggled and given great effort to create art, but never succeeded, we may say she lacks talent.  But what, then, if suddenly she starts to create high-quality work?  This does happen, though not frequently because many would eventually give up on something they find too challenging.  Would we then say that she always had the "latent talent" (I just love that anagram) but needed the opportunity to express it?  What if she had died or given up before she developed those skills?  She would have been judged to be without innate talent.
 
To repeat and summarize: as a practical matter, the judgment of talent can only be done in retrospect, as in "he has not yet shown talent for photography."  You can't really say "he will never..." because there are some people who do show ability later in life.  Furthermore, if you now ascribe to those late-bloomers the quality of "latent talent" then you find yourself in a logical fallacy.  (This particular fallacy is known as the "no true Scotsman fallacy" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_scotsman)
 
Why is this important, and why have I wasted half an hour writing about it?  Because art is about enjoying and appreciating life, in its many different aspects.  It simply does not matter if a certain person doesn't create admirable or compelling photographic images, it's only important that he/she enjoy the process of trying.  Personally, I believe most people are born with "artistic talent," but circumstances take each in a different direction.  As regards photography I'll repeat a quote someone else posted recently:
 
"A camera is a tool to teach you how to see without a camera." Dorothea Lange
 
Really, that's what matters.
 
 

scarbo

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2011, 09:54:30 PM »
Good post Orangutan. You're right, this is an important topic and I think you make some very good points.

Quite a lot of research has been done on the subject of innate talent, with interesting results. I happen to think photography is one of the more accessible artistic disciplines out there where most individuals would be able to develop a high level of skill given time and effort.

Even in significantly more challenging areas some of the research out there argues that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become world class in a discipline and much less to become highly skilled. Of course, it has to be the right kind of practice, but the argument is practice is a more significant contributory factor to the level at which one excels in a skill than this idea of talent.

http://cogprints.org/656/1/innate.htm

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2011, 09:54:30 PM »

Orangutan

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2011, 04:12:18 PM »
Thanks for the comments, and also for the link.  I haven't read it yet, but it looks interesting.  Unfortunately, I think this thread is dead -- would be nice to have some folks tell stories about how they became interested in photography, and how they developed their photographer's eye.

alipaulphotography

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2011, 06:54:37 PM »
I think a true test would be for everyone to buy an old manual pentax or olympus film slr with a 50mm lens and some b&w film and then see who gets the best photos.


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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2011, 06:54:37 PM »