Recently a photographer posed the question, would you rather have the best camera system in the world (price is no object) or learning to truly see (you could spot artistic compositions anywhere), which would you pick?
The vast majority said they would take the vision to see over having the best gear that money could buy.
A couple comments were for the better gear and I thought that was interesting.
One commenter said that they had been told that they already had “the eye” so they would opt for the camera gear.
Another said composition techniques could be learned so they opted for the gear as well. Another said “I can learn to see”.
Those comments really surprised me. For the record it would be without question that I’d pick to truly see over any camera gear.
Many of the commenter’s I think confused composition with the ability to see.
I agree you can learn composition rules fairly quickly, but to see artistically is something I think you are born with.
I could study painting for decades and never paint anything more than glorified stick figures. I could play basketball for hours on end every day and maybe be a mediocre player but never be good enough to make the pros.
Everyone has the ability to see to a certain extent. Visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and I don’t see how anyone could not find that beautiful. To really see artistically though, you have to see what most others do not.
I was talking to a young friend of mine, Liam who owns Liam Filtness Photography and Film and he asked the question “Trouble is, how do I know what looks good to film?” My response was pretty simple on the surface. I said “When you see something that makes your heart skip and beat and go WHOA, hit the record button”.
That sounds pretty simple and in many ways it really is that simple. I see something that stops me in my tracks and I record it.
I was walking down the Sac and Fox trail near Indian Creek Nature Center the other day and striking visualizations were jumping out at me everywhere. I know that 99.9% of the people that were walking on the trail that afternoon failed to notice most if not all of them.
Oftentimes people slow or stop on the trail trying to see what it is that I have my camera pointed at. Sometimes if I happen to look up at the right time I catch their puzzled expression as the green leaf backlit with the setting sun’s golden light against the dark brown of the tree trunk behind it is lost to them. Yet to me, it’s as impressive as the view from Artist Point in Yellowstone.
That is where I think the difference is. Seeing beauty in the simplistic and mundane.
So, the million dollar question is, can this artistic vision be taught?
I really don’t know the answer honestly, but let me put forth my thoughts and let me know if you agree or disagree with them.
I think that I can take any budding nature filmmaker with me on a field trip and point out the things that catch my eye artistically. I think from that point forward, they can then recognize those artistic compositions in the future whenever they encounter them and create some stunning footage.
The real question though is are they able to come up with unique artistic compositions on their own based on what they’ve learned looking at other filmmakers work? I think to a certain extent that they can.
I believe artistic vision is much like a muscle that has to be worked in order to get it into shape. However, like a muscle genetics plays a role into how well it can be developed and what it’s full potential can be.
I’d like to know your thoughts about this. Do you agree that you’d rather have artistic vision than gear? Also, do you think that artistic vision can be taught and anyone can learn the ability to come up with new visions of their own?
Let me know in the comments below!
And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!