Quoting from About Photography (1949) by American photographer Will Connell (hat tip Brendan MacRae): “Every medium suffers from its own particular handicap. Photography's greatest handicap is the ease with which the medium as such can be learned. As a result, too many budding neophytes learn to speak the language too long before they have anything to say.”


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Janne (Mar 05 2009, at 00:49)

There's a quote, I forgot from whom: "Everybody has a novel in them; in most cases it should stay there."

Every medium suffers from this. Hack photographers shooting kittens, babies and sunsets are paralleled by hack painters painting the same kittens, babies and sunsets. For every "real" guitarist you have two hundred guys strumming Stairway to Heaven.

Except, "suffer" is the wrong word. When it's your kitten it doesn't matter if the shot is trite and overdone; it's still the cutest kitten picture in the world. It doesn't matter if a painter is a pathetic hack or if the guitarist is a talentless imitator if they are having a blast doing what they do.

There's many reasons to create something; many of those reasons have nothing to do with the end result or with being good at the process.


From: Martin (Mar 05 2009, at 05:11)

You can relate to programing. Take the book "C for dummies". Dummies should not program in C!

PS: I noticed that a lot of programmers are attracted by photography, mostly since the digital age. And I'm talking semi-pro level here. Do you?


From: Doug Ransom (Mar 05 2009, at 05:11)

Gee, one could say the same about almost any hobby or career (i.e. computer programming).


From: William Loughborough (Mar 05 2009, at 06:05)

"Every medium suffers from its own particular handicap."

Even written/spoken language must abide the pontifications of those who feel justified in deciding who is a "hack" or "talentless guitarist".

"Budding neophytes" don't deserve the time of day, I suppose.

The counter position "From the mouths of babes comes great wisdom" might be honored as well.

Whether one agrees with this particular pundit's point of view or thinks of the quote as being "elitist" is up to each of us - as are decisions about merit.



From: foresmac (Mar 05 2009, at 06:49)

It's harsh, but it's true. I always tried to stress the concept of non-verbal communication when I taught photography, even for casual workshops. I find it's not at all a difficult concept for a lot of people if you simply bother to explain it to them.

But, not many people learn photography from a teacher any more. They look up hints and tricks online, or read books that are full of technical information but lacking any... "heart."


From: len (Mar 05 2009, at 09:47)

One of my music buds had a phrase "the I Play Toos" to describe the people who would come up to us at gigs and demand to be allowed to play with or without the band. It isn't that anyone wanted to put them down, but the 'demand' is insufferable.

It's your baby. If it isn't ready for the boardwalk, don't dress it in a gown and put makeup on the baby and then push it out on stage. On the other hand, if invited, walk the walk.

Sensitive politeness and respect go a long ways. If anyone wants to see how that works when a star is involved, read the forums at arlo.net where Arlo Guthrie hangs out with his fans. It is wondefully surprising to see an artist who's personality is as expected and who uses the art exactly as wished and still maintains the quality.

People think it is about being famous or "the best". It is about being truthful. If you do that, chops are helpful but not essential. Treat the photos like that, Tim, and you never have to say 'ouch' because the comment doesn't apply. Fortune in other men's eyes and all that...


From: Paul W. Homer (Mar 05 2009, at 10:35)

It's not just photography, it's all the way from medicine to construction and everything in between; everything is available on the Internet. Instant information, yet no knowledge. All you need to screw-it-yourself.

It's an age of madness. Wait, I'll look up a better quote, so it looks like I've read more ...



From: David Terei (Mar 05 2009, at 16:49)

Yeah I can relate to this, before I became to some degree one of those people perhaps it used to annoy me about photography as well. As others have said though, you get this everywhere anyway, more so though perhaps in fields which society/culture has judge to be cool and creative.

I don't think it really matters though, as long as the person is having fun, who cares what they are doing with the medium. That is perhaps as long as they aren't influential.

I've always found people who buy the best and most expensive of things pretty silly and annoying. People who will buy like a D3 for their first camera. I've also met a lot of photographers who have basically never owned a P&S which I also find silly since I agree with you on their usefulness.

However I remember reading one of the links you posted on a previous camera article and it talked about how really if it makes you happy, then buying a D3 is perfectly fine even if you really have no use for it. I tend to agree with that sentiment, even if I still think its pretty silly and a little greedy.


From: Robert (Mar 06 2009, at 06:34)

“I used to draw like Raphael, but it has taken me a whole lifetime to learn to draw like a child”

-- Piccasso

It seems some of us have the opposite problem.


From: dano (Mar 21 2009, at 20:48)

Now that the technology allows everybody to have good exposure and good focus, the technical chops no longer separate out some of the less skilled photographers.

However, this makes some of the non-technical "rules" of good photography even more relevant and appropriate:

1. If your pictures aren't very good, get closer.

2. f/8 and Be There.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
March 04, 2009
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Photos (966 more)

By .

The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.