Thread: Can a creative eye be LEARNED?
01-12-2012, 06:22 PM #11It is I Don Quixote!!
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Fort Meade, MD
During the training of the Army, Navy, Marine Corp and Air Force photography students they are introduced to the ISO-Aperature-Shutter Speed of their equipment and how the three are interrelated. Then they are handed a D300 and a 50 1.8 along with a shot list and sent out on post to accomplish that list with no further instruction. This means they spend a large part of the first phase with camera in hand and shots to get but not being told the right or wrong way (which I'm not sure I believe exists) to take the picture.
One of the things that is almost over-emphasized is changing your POV. Just standing on something or laying on the ground can sometimes give you that oomph from ordinary to extraordinary. Those are the things we learn. The creativity is something you develop and to what extent really depends on how much you are willing to open yourself up.
I keep thinking about those 3d prints that you had to learn to relax your eyes to see. That was a learned response that allowed your mind to see something that wasn't there before. That's sort of how I think learning to be creative is. You just need a new way to see and it's all about finding your own way to see. I know I've read it somewhere and I have a friend that also told me about it; he said to try holding your camera upside down or at a 45 degree angle and then crop out a good photo in post. The task leaves you looking at your photos differently and you'll often find things that you didn't realize were there.
Last edited by zephod; 01-12-2012 at 06:49 PM. Reason: finish my thought...
01-13-2012, 02:25 AM #12
To the original point, I think the eye is something that develops over time, for everyone. Experience is a huge part of being good at anything (especially something that's both technically AND creatively demanding).
I'm going to go ahead and say something that might sound pretentious, but I'm really not an egomaniac. When I first started doing serious photography, I was coming up with some interesting stuff, but looking back on it, I'm WAY better now than I was. Even just looking at the portfolio I got into grad school on ... night and day from the way I shoot now.
01-13-2012, 07:18 AM #13
this is something i've wondered about too.
when i was using my powershot, i gradually learned more and more about the camera, what it could do, what it couldn't, i used it to death, and as time went by my images improved, i don't think they were ever great, but my creativity improved for sure, and that was because of the confidence i had using it.
now that i've moved to a DSLR i find myself thinking that i suck again, forgetting of course that i once felt the same way with my compact.
talent is one thing, you either have it or you don't, but as someone said, it's only a head start.
01-16-2012, 01:19 AM #14
Thankyou everybody for your reply. I've been a while responding but I've really enjoyed reading each entry. Autofocus I think you broke my heart with your first sentence so I didn't respond for a while hahaha. But I got over it with time!
So in the end I think I have come to accept that I will never be a brilliant photographer - certainly I don't have the knack for those stunnning street photography shots (which is the type of photography I love the most, and I suspect where creative talent has the most effect). I am more than capable in other areas, I am decent at portraiture, and I love everything about photography and really enjoy it. So perhaps I should stop expecting unrealistic results, and just put my head down and work!
Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
01-19-2012, 06:10 PM #15
Just like me?
I teach math and am very logical... i.e. I've had a hard time with "creativity" for most of my life. Most of what I do has some element of imitation to it. My advice is to accept imitation and just see what you can take. As I've learned how things work, I'm slowly taking more interesting photographs that are "mine."
You mentioned books. I've been reading Michael Freeman's The Photographer's Mind, and I already plan to read The Photographer's Eye (granted that's out of order but I blame Barnes and Noble for having them in that order on the shelf). He does a good job of taking photos apart and explains why photos are interesting, some of which are interesting to me and some of which I'm left scratching my head. Regardless, i can now "see" the many different aspects of a good photo.Nikon D5000, 18-250mm Sigma, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon
If you can't be kind, have the decency to be vague.
01-19-2012, 06:15 PM #16Nikon D5000, 18-250mm Sigma, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon
If you can't be kind, have the decency to be vague.
02-15-2012, 10:34 AM #17
So now, instead of one slightly off topic post that didn't really contribute to the OP, there were 5. I've deleted them all because this is a potentially useful/interesting thread that doesn't deserve to be be hijacked which happened as soon as you responded Vincent.
To everyone - contribute or report..sound good? I'm going to start coming down on this sort of stuff, yeah?
PS. for the record, he deleted his own post.
02-15-2012, 11:15 AM #18
This was a very good question and brings up a whole lot of good thought and discussion. I agree with the people who have said we are all born with some kind of creativity....when we are babies we don't give a toss about what is "right" or the conventional wisdom or what other people say, we like what we LIKE, dammit and if you disagree, we ...will...CRY until you shut up.
It seems like most societies spend most of our childhoods trying to teach us to ignore our creativity...the sky is always blue, the grass is always green and a house has two windows and a door and a chimney, draw it that way to get the best grade. Part of learning to be a photographer or painter or writer or any kind of artist is to get back in touch with that inner creative voice we have spent years ignoring and trying to shut up in order to get the best grade, aka approval.
So can it be taught? No more then someone can be taught to love, or to dance....we already know how inside ourselves and we just need to learn not give a toss about what is "right" and if anyone disagrees we need...to...CRY (or the equivalent).
Regarding Praline's concept of going out with her camera on P and shooting crazy subjects just for the fun of it...that is a great idea. I know a lot of people tend to look down on the dreaded Auto or P settings but I think they are great. Several times already I have looked at something I shot on Auto then gone back to reshoot it using Av or Tv to get the exact look I wanted, inspired by that previous image and the potential I saw in it.
02-15-2012, 02:47 PM #19Friendly Astrophysicist
- Join Date
- Aug 2010
I believe that it can be learned, absolutely. It's going to come at different speeds for different people, and your teacher is going to matter a lot. As I see it, if you were to graph a learning curve, you'd find that people with talent just have a natural boost on that learning curve - so some people don't have to work very hard to learn it, others really have to work at it.
It's tough because I think we have to answer the question "what exactly is a creative eye?" Composition can certainly be learned, how to control a camera can be learned. Herein lies the dilemma - creativity itself isn't just a photographic thing, learning a creative eye means learning creativity and applying it to composition. That's often hard in our world for reasons stated above. Children are amazing at lateral thinking, alternate possibilities, infinite answers, most adults have spent a long time being taught there is only one answer. Creativity is shown in several studies to be a lower metric in adults. Often times to be creative, it's simply asking "what if" and trying it, or "I always do it this way, let's try something else".
I think learning creativity is best by doing, you have to create things, and creativity is so often stifled. When it comes to photography, how uncommon is it to hear "That's not a good photograph, the foreground is out of focus, the angle is all off" These compositional rules and formal artistic structural paradigms and graphic language / and grammar are partly against creativity. Just as language itself is. - for example; "Pink and numbers purple bigger world is than to think the fly Horatio cat was?" Nonsense, right? Is there creativity there? Can one create a poem without being creative? Is the act of making a poem itself creative? (let's not even try to answer how creative is it?)
However, we can see from the nonsensical example above that without the vocabulary and grammar, we would likely spew nonsense no matter how creative we are perhaps (and maybe occasionally writing shakespeare). we have to learn the formal so that we can use it to put forth more complex ideas, and then we can find a sense of whimsy, we can instill the meaning we desire. We have to learn not only to be creative, but to be creative under constraint. This is why we hear so often, in so many things, that we must learn the rules before we can break them. (And so I could spew nonsense knowingly)
So I say to those who want to learn a creative eye, to learn about formal visual language, to study images, composition, symbolism. That's where the grammar is. To learn the vocabulary - you've got to learn to see, to really take time and observe - go out into the world without a camera, with ear plugs, find places, and look at what is there, pay attention to where your eye goes. Anyone can learn a second language. A lot of people will begin with "Hello" In photography the basic greeting seems to be "I saw this" or "cute" (And that's why we see so many cat and flower photographs)
I'd suggest that a creative eye in photography is really more than just creativity, it's the ability to speak with imagery. It's a language. Some people may have a hard time, and may give up, thinking "they just can't do it". I'd even go so far as to say some people may have a negative talent, that puts them so far behind that the learning curve is nearly nigh insurmountable, but in the end it comes down to individual will. If you have the will to see through and practice, you will learn. That will is key to learning. It may take time and patience, and like language - the more you speak, the more fluent you become. The more you photograph, the more fluent your eye will become.
Last edited by ravncat; 02-16-2012 at 12:10 AM. Reason: So i can write this.
02-15-2012, 03:25 PM #20
I took my first photography class this past Saturday. Besides all the technical information I came out of the class with a quote from the instructor really stuck with me.
“You have a nice camera, take pictures of everything.”
Do that and eventually you’ll start to see what make a great image.