Aesthetics vs Technique

This past weekend I got to participate, along with thousands of others, in a great photography workshop hosted by creativeLIVE and David duChemin. The event was free to watch live, which is a great opportunity and something that I am greatly thankful of. To the folks at creativeLIVE and Chase Jarvis Inc, a big thank you for all that you are giving back to photography through this.

The workshop was centered around “Vision” and was focused more on developing vision than technique. Some may see this as a short coming but, asking “what does it look like” instead of “what does it do”, there is a growing population of photographers who are more concerned with vision and the aesthetics of a picture than with the technique behind it.

Don’t get me wrong, good technique is important, but in the end a great picture requires much more than just technique. I tend to be a little on the analytical side of things and in photography this sometimes hinders vision. I will go out on a photo walk and not take any pictures because in my head I’m analyzing my shots and deciding that they are no good before I have even pressed the shutter. I was challenged this to leave that behind me and to go out and allow my vision to be stretched through photographing something I may have mentally deemed worthless.

Sketch images, images that seemingly don’t fit into your final goal, will allow you to better define what that goal is and how to get to it. They give you the grace to fail, and they give you the opportunity to train your ability and your vision. You don’t just pick up your camera, press the shutter and bam! have an amazing picture, it takes developing and practice to train your vision and craft. Take sketch images and review them, through this you will begin to see things that you like and that look good and things that don’t. Use them to develop your skills and you will begin to see things in new ways, and therefore you will photograph them in new ways as well. A good exercise for this is to go to a place you have not explored or maybe have overlooked, and then photograph everything you see. You can also pick a color or object and photography everything that somehow relates to that subject.

The point of vision is that we are working on the aesthetics of the picture, not the technique. “The most valuable tool we have is our creativity” and if we allow that to be controlled by technique we will soon be shooting things that no one will want to look at.


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