Are Passion and Artistry more Important than Photography Training?

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Earlier in the week we received the following question from one of our readers (no name was supplied) and we thought it’d be one that might open up some interesting discussion and perhaps debate.

Is passion and artistry worth more than schooling when it comes to making it in the photography industry?

We’re bound to see a few different perspectives on this one – so while we encourage you to share your opinion please respect those of others also. I’m looking forward to an interesting discussion on this question!

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Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • i do agree with top two! i would like to say from my point of view, they are both very important. like the Jim News said, alot of people get lucky, they point, click, and wow,,,, how did i do that! alot of them also like alot what they have done, so they endevour to learn about what it is that gets you results such as the one that really caught your passion for that capture! this gives proof, that while passion is something that drives so many of use to pick up the camera and capture what it is about this world that takes our breath away, or capturing an image that we feel speaks a little about what we are feeling, or tells the story of who we are at that point in our life, a little camera training definitly wont set you back any! cameras can be funny sometimes, anything from a dirty lense to a wrong setting can smash your chances of the right capture to embed what it is you were wanting to express through that image! knowing the mechanics of how the camera works, and what handicaps our cameras full potential, can give you the edge in preventing camera folly! as far as artistry, honestly, that comes from who you are! find what it is that gives you the chill down your spine, and breath of fresh air once captured! You follow that instinct, you will never go wrong, and never be let down! and people will sense that passion you put into it, thats the joy of art i think! Technique is gained through experience, and darren rowse! he has inspired me numerous times to try techniques i have never tried before, as well as come up with a few of my own, tailored to achieve unique effects i can truly relate myself too! so learning photography, technique, equipment, and even a little about art, is a great idea! but keep true to your passion with it, and the artistry will come like second nature!

  • All of the above.

    You have to master the technical aspects of your camera and standard and unusual photographic techniques. You can of course learn these by accident if you are imaginative and have a good idea. Not the camera part. You have to know how your camera works and how to use it.

    You have to have passion and desire to create beautiful or compelling photographs or you’ll just lose interest. If you have passion, you will always want to get better and better. Or you might even get weirder and weirder but that’s not a bad thing.

    I’ve read all the comments about marketing and they are true. Mediocre photographers can succeed if they are good marketing specialists.

    So don’t do it for the money. Do it for yourself

  • David

    Hi
    Interesting question with what could be a simple answer – Passion, this leads to learning, without passion you won’t learn. You need passion to get up at 3am to shoot that morning sunrise, you need passion to go back the next day because you didn’t get it right (that’s when the learning starts to kick in!). Then the more you learn the more passionate you get, passionate about the fine tuning, about the colour, focus etc suddenly you as passionate about finding out the more technical bits and so-on. The more you find out the more you try and the more you want to find out and explore and these leads to artistry. Without the passion you would have stopped at the first sunrise when it didn’t go as planed.
    All great artists were passionate about image making and ideas, technical skills were just learn along the way, a means to an end. So passion leads to learning, learning leads to skill, skill leads to artistry, artistry leads back passion, and around we go again.

  • Blake E

    I feel that passion is required more so than the actual know how of working a camera, as with all things in life it requires a mix of skill and the personal drive (need if you will) to carry the procedure out. Anyone can be taught how to physically take a picture that is flawless to any rule wise extent. This is simply because techniques can be taught, but it comes down to those small (I can’t explain it exactly) bits of information that transform you from a lady with a photo album to a real photographer. For example, let’s assume hypothetically that we take a child that has never played soccer and set him next to another child that was extremely skilled in soccer. Yes, the second child would be capable of teaching the first child how to play to the extent of rules and simple techniques of how to trap the ball, but when you get into a game and you single in on the moment (finally getting back to photography here, as in when you are about to take the photo) that is something you can’t describe. A natural and unexplainable part of you takes over and controls you giving you an edge to the rest that are unable to do this. Simply put this preset mindset that takes over is what separates the best from the rest.

  • bruceaction

    Photography is a life of learning, even hard work,having a passion brings that knowledge to life..life in your photography will inspire positive comment from viewer’s of your work. Which of course is satisfying.

    I send my Photos to sick people and others,because there is a sense of healing in creative photography’

    knowledge develops skill. developed skill develops great results..and pleasing out comes.

  • kate

    That would depend on your goals wouldn’t it? Having training makes it easier to get into some branches of photography. Being creative helps in others. Passion is probably best for all. Few people are unique and so talented to get by on passion and their art alone. In something like photography you probably are already passionate about it if you’re doing it since it is still inherently an art since it’s creation. If you’re no good in general with art the training can make up for it. Quality in the product and skill can make up for lack of creativity and suit a purpose. Artistry can make up for lack of skill in technique if it’s just that interesting.

  • B

    RE: teaching passion

    Passion can absolutely be taught. Or, rather, with the right guidance, we can find passion that we didn’t know exists. Example: throughout school, I was never very interested or passionate about history. none of it really stuck, I couldn’t remember important names, dates, or places, and I barely saw the application to anything in today’s real world. In college, for no particular reason, I took a WWII history course, and it completely changed my outlook; the combination of the subject and the teaching style ignited a passion I’d never had for any kind of history, and now I’m interested in the things I glossed over in high school.

    We don’t really know where passion “comes from”. So, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. I think, under the right circumstances, anyone could become passionate about photography. Just because you really, really, really like it doesn’t make you special or mean you have a magical touch.

  • The passion and artistry are far more important so long as they drive you to get the expertise necessary to realize it. One’s art always evolves based on experience and knowledge.

  • My guess is they are both important. The person who is passioned and has an inclination for the artistry part as you call it, but also has training in photography, will be the one to make it. As a self tougth photographer, I often feel the need of a photography lesson. And I have been practicing photography for almost 3 years on a professional level. The passion is burning in me, all I can dream about is photography. I read anything I can get on photography (I am most interested in the artistic part of reading, rather than a technical one), but I feel the need for guidance. And this is what training does. Workshops, specialised courses in photography are extremely important if you want a professional look for your photos.

    On the other hand, there are many amateur photographers out there, that do not work in the field. On this level it is clear that training does not play such an important role. But on a professional level yes, the continous trainig is of capital importance.

  • As a new photographer with no formal training at all but a passion that I am trying to fulfill through my journey from Rookie to Pro and chronicling on my blog http://www.rookiephoto.com I would think that both are important and potentially equally valuable.

    Non of my past business ventures have involved any formal education or training. School of hard knocks is about the only formal education I’ve subscribed to. I also hire staff based largely for attitude and not aptitude. Skills can be taught, learned etc. but if you do not have the passion for what you are doing then you will never be as good as you should be.

    Lots of great online resources, like DPS, and great books that can provide guidance for success.

  • Passion and artistry drive me toward the training I need to fulfill my vision.

  • tin lee

    To me, both of em is equally important.

    passion keeps you moving , while Photography Training helps you move faster

  • I agree with many of the above posts.

    Passion leads to the training part. In order to improve your passion you will seek advice and techincal skills. I don’t have any “formal” training nor do I profess to be an expert. I come to websites like this one to seek advice, tips and training to feed my passion.

    Without the passion is there any desire to take the photos to begin with? To me the answer is no.

  • B

    I’d be curious to know how many of the people who are saying that training is unimportant have had any kind of structured training? Schooling, interning/shadowing, whatever aside from “self-taught”?

  • I live in an area where impressionist artists painted landscapes. So because of this, people like to buy landscape photographs. I’m more interested in other subjects than landscapes. I like surreal photographs where I take an image of ANYTHING and using Photoshop Elements i create a surreal images. I’ve sold many images but on one surreal. If I concentrated on landscapes I’d sell a lot more images. Thank goodness I’m retired and have a pension I can live on so I continue to produce the kind of image I like rather than what is commercially desirable. My creativity comes not only from my subject matter but how I represent the result through creative use of Photoshop Elements.

  • here is my opinion, a young lady at my work, has a degree in photography from a local college, she doesn’t even know how to use the settings on her camera. at work we always use manual mode and poor thing doesn’t have a clue. anyway, i believe that passion and artistry are more important, of course you need training, but i believe forums like this one is a 100 times better than some guy at a college, because at the college you are only getting his ideas, and not many people’s ideas! if that makes any sense?

  • Didit Mehta

    The question is which one is more important? Rather than whether you can be a great photographer in the exclusion of any. You can read a lot of books, attend a lot of training, discuss with various professional photographers, but untill you take lots lots lots of shots then your skills and results will not significantly improved. Surely to take that many shots, woke up early for sunrise moments, going around to find the best vantage point, try various techniques, will require alot of passion and later on develop your artistry.

    Do I read a lot of photography books, magazines, articles (like this one), watch tutorial vidoes and attend training? Yes, I do. However the best lesson we learn from our own bad mistakes, off exposed shots, bad composition and lack of point of interest. Until you are in the field and make mistakes, you never develop what you have learned in the class into your second nature photography instinc

  • Sarah

    I believe they’re both important. In my case, if it weren’t for training/schooling, I would still know nothing about photography. I wouldn’t know how to make my pictures better because I wouldn’t even know the basic concepts.

    S

  • I think that technical ability is necessary and that learning will be on-going as the industry/products change. But I think art is more important. It is what makes an image enduring and valuable. It’s what fuels the whole process, money just pays the bills. In the film era, technical ability was what set a good photographer apart, but technology has given us many, many shortcuts and increased the competition. So now, I think the artist’s own style is what will set them apart. Developing a unique style and making relevant images for your clients is our largest challenge, not gaining technical ability and knowledge. No one reading this forum is likely to take the finest flower or sunset photo of all time…so what’s the point then? Perfect screen-saver type images make fun eye candy, but they are not profound; I really beleive that we are not drawn to perfection, we are drawn to stories, passion, uniqueness, contrast, emotions, people, life, light, etc. Technical competence is necessary. Art is important.

  • I’ve read all the comments so far and I don’t disagree with what anyone has said. However, no one has considered what “ART” is. Some one once said, “Art is in the eyes of the beholder.” Since “art” is a personal and abstract concept what is art to one is junk to another.

    As an example, I showed a photo at a club competition where the theme was “Doors.” It was a door in a corn crib on an Amish farm. Very simple, yellow corn and white leaves with the vertical slats and wire enclosure. An outside judge at our club meeting, with a good reputation as a photographer, didn’t even comment on my image and it was disqualified.

    One of my teachers, when I was training to become a Docent at an art museum, reviewed my photographic portfolio. Afterwards selected three images for a show that she was forming for a college multimedia juried show where she was the art director. One of them was the corn crib door. Since she had a Doctorate in Art History, I figured that she thought it was artistic.

    As a fine art photographer, so I’ve been told, I don’t concern myself with what other people think of my images. Since I don’t have to worry about what the “market” desires, I can exhibit what I consider good images since I don’t care if any of them sell.

    I wonder if Ansel Adams, or his contemporary photographers, thought about sales when they were shooting their images? I doubt it. They were taking photographs of what they loved, in Ansels’ case, the beauty of Yosemite Parks’ mountain vistas. However, each photographer has to decide if photography is hobby to be enjoyed or a means of making a living. In the later case, the targeted clients make the determination.

    If you are a hobbyist, don’t worry about whether your image is “art” or not. If you like it that is more important than what others think. Most, if not all the time, they don’t know what “ART” is.

  • Mo Parker

    I will bet my last dollar that every great photographer has all three: passion, artistry and training. I believe photography is nowhere without those three. My opinion for what it is worth.

  • McGuireuk

    I personally love the self taught journey. I decided to get into photography in January this year and bought a point and shoot with manual controls available. Now only five months later I love it so much I’ve decided to make the jump to my first DSLR. I could go and do a course but I’m loving learning on here and other sites and finding my feet and also what I like to shoot and how.

    I’ll maybe take a stab at a course one day but I don’t thin its necessary to enjoy photography or be any good at it.

  • I feel as though technical knowledge has been largely undervalued this discussion. I think that in today’s world, where camera’s and editing software is getting smarter and smarter, technical knowledge is more important than ever. In today’s age anyone can take a picture. What sets you apart many times is your ability to outsmart the camera and capture a look that is fresh and new.

  • Knowledge By Itself is Worthless
    G.I. Joe said, “Knowledge is half the battle.” If all you have is knowledge, you fail. You get 50% at most and that is an F. Passion and drive, like written above, is necessary for anyone to be successful at anything. I take that back, you can win at Jeopardy on knowledge alone…

    Passion By Itself is Dangerous
    Think of extremists. A life fueled by emotion alone will be a violently bumpy journey. Knowledge provides the objective reality to keep our passions in check.

    Artistry By Itself is Selfish
    We often hear people say they take photos for their own pleasure. “I do it for myself”, they claim. Then why share it? Why put it online? Why put “Copyright _______ Photography” on the image? Art gets its personality from its creator, but it gets its significance from the response of others. There’s nothing wrong with taking photos for yourself. But a problem arises when someone posts a not-to-pleasant photo on the internet, someone with knowledge and passion gives an honest critique, then the poster claims art is personal and they liked it and that’s all that matters. Whoa there. Art is knowledge mixed with passion, not pride mixed with selfishness.

    My Tone is Harsh in this Post
    Sorry about that 🙂

    Knowledge + Passion + Artistry = Brilliance
    They must coexist. They must grow together. Knowledge permits the release of passion. Passion invents new Artistry. Artistry encourages one to learn more and more. Then the cycle repeats.

    Knowledge without passion goes unused. Artistry without passion is dull. Passion without knowledge is frustrating. Artistry without knowledge is blind.

  • Shaun

    I think, like anything else, it’s best in moderation, training that is! Someone once said that if you break the rules (the rule of thirds for example) in the name of creativity, that can be interesting! However, if you break it simply because you don’t know it, that’s not good!

    I’ve heard studying and training referred to as “Creative Avoidance” in the sense that some think that if they don’t feel ready to try something new, they need to learn more! In reality, all they might need to do is get out there and work with what they’ve learned so far and they can get more out of just practicing it!

  • Diane Bergander

    I think that schooling is very important, but with out passion and artistry it is dull, sterile and mind numbing. Schooling with passion and artistry is stunning!!!

  • Mike Mosher

    I will reply as a life-long musician. I am fairly new to photography but I love all art in general. Schooling means learning technique. Technique is the foundation to all art, no matter how expressive, or free-form. An artist cannot truly express oneself to others unless he/she has the skill sets to know all of the potential ways to communicate that passion or artistry. Schooling gives the artist those skill sets. That being said, passion and artistry are key to greatness, but will not endure over time without a well-established foundation learned through some type of schooling.

  • Allen

    I think a lot of people think artist and education dont mix. Alot if not most of the past masters Van G., Vermeer etc all were highly educated artists that trained with other artist along side. You cant teach creativity, but going to school learning basics and getting projects, taking art history and composition classes gives you a different perspective on things and forces you to try new things. Its not a crutch. The internship with a prof alone is so worth the time. I think its very important to get a good, strong knowledge of your camera and techniques so you can add your own vision to them and create your own. The education shows a huge dedication too. I believe neither is more important but all equal aspects of being an artist.

  • Well I’m one that started out flying by the seat of my pants. I took photos of my nieces wedding and it has grown from there. In a way kinda fell into it. I have a small studio out of my home. I will say that I do feel inadequate because I don’t know all the ins and outs of photography. Lighting is my BIG issue and trying to understand the Fstops……… I took one photography class at our local college but it was using film and developing in black and white. I’m sure like most I can’t afford to quit my full time job to go to school and most of the schools are away from where I live.

    I would love to be able to mentor with a local photographer to learn but that doesn’t happen. I think they are too afraid of having more competion out there. So I think the passion AND education are both equally important. But don’t stop just because you don’t have the education. Learn by trial and error.

  • catherine

    No, I think passion and artistry have equal weight to schooling. Schooling as in getting the knowledge and training for the craft.

  • Gordon James

    A popular question, but one which really doesn’t take much debating! Ultimately, the answer must be yes – but only ultimately! After all, any artist (take your pick – musician, painter,sculptor…photographer) has to learn the craft element before any of that vision and passion can be realised. Most of the great painters studied painting – brush skills, paint technology etc etc – but they became Great Painters because they had that vision and passion. Hundreds of others became nothing more than copy artists because they lacked it.
    Photography is no different!

  • Prachi Jaiswal

    Photography is an art and a science. You have to know the rules like a scientist to break them like an artist.

  • Angelia

    I don’t think you can exclude one over the other. I agree with someone else who said that you need to know the rules in order to break them. At the same time, I think part of what drives some of us to learn the “science” behind photography is our passion and our “artistic eye”. You could know every single technical thing about photography that there is, but if you don’t have the ability to see beyond the technical, no one else will feel anything from your photos. But at the same time, your might have the deepest passion for photography, but if you don’t know what you’re doing (even a little bit), you won’t be able to get across to viewers what you’re trying to portray. That’s what I believe anyway.

  • will

    none the best thing is to know business without it there is little chance of success. after that then all are important just depends of the person…

  • Roberto Salazar

    School develops technique, passion polishes it and talent gets you there faster.

  • robert demmans

    as an artist (painter) and photographer, there both connected. But you need to learn the in and out of producing the photo that you want. you still need to learn your craft

  • Debra Elliott

    Even someone with a passion, a calling, a talent, a gift has to ‘learn’ beyond point and shoot. Not all that ‘learn’ how are good at it.

  • Scott McKay

    I’m a novice. I’ve had my DSLR for about three years now. I can tell you all day long that I have the passion, and a fair amount of talent. But, without having learned the “fundamentals” of photography, I would never be able to create a great image. I have never used my camera on “Auto”. I started out in “Manual”. The learning curve has beaten me up quite a few times, but I am getting better. So, I would have to say that regardless of how much “passion” or “talent” you have, you must learn the fundamentals of your art. Whether it be painting, music, ballet, or photography, we all have to start with the basics, and work our way up from there.

  • Rene Beaudoin

    I think that all 3 are are important in photography and are linked. That said the order you pursue your passion may very and mine are ( passion,schooling and artistry ). Great subject and thanks for posting.

Some Older Comments

  • catherine September 11, 2010 04:39 am

    No, I think passion and artistry have equal weight to schooling. Schooling as in getting the knowledge and training for the craft.

  • Marsha June 8, 2010 11:24 pm

    Well I'm one that started out flying by the seat of my pants. I took photos of my nieces wedding and it has grown from there. In a way kinda fell into it. I have a small studio out of my home. I will say that I do feel inadequate because I don't know all the ins and outs of photography. Lighting is my BIG issue and trying to understand the Fstops......... I took one photography class at our local college but it was using film and developing in black and white. I'm sure like most I can't afford to quit my full time job to go to school and most of the schools are away from where I live.

    I would love to be able to mentor with a local photographer to learn but that doesn't happen. I think they are too afraid of having more competion out there. So I think the passion AND education are both equally important. But don't stop just because you don't have the education. Learn by trial and error.

  • Allen June 3, 2010 04:03 pm

    I think a lot of people think artist and education dont mix. Alot if not most of the past masters Van G., Vermeer etc all were highly educated artists that trained with other artist along side. You cant teach creativity, but going to school learning basics and getting projects, taking art history and composition classes gives you a different perspective on things and forces you to try new things. Its not a crutch. The internship with a prof alone is so worth the time. I think its very important to get a good, strong knowledge of your camera and techniques so you can add your own vision to them and create your own. The education shows a huge dedication too. I believe neither is more important but all equal aspects of being an artist.

  • Mike Mosher June 1, 2010 11:44 am

    I will reply as a life-long musician. I am fairly new to photography but I love all art in general. Schooling means learning technique. Technique is the foundation to all art, no matter how expressive, or free-form. An artist cannot truly express oneself to others unless he/she has the skill sets to know all of the potential ways to communicate that passion or artistry. Schooling gives the artist those skill sets. That being said, passion and artistry are key to greatness, but will not endure over time without a well-established foundation learned through some type of schooling.

  • Diane Bergander May 28, 2010 01:13 am

    I think that schooling is very important, but with out passion and artistry it is dull, sterile and mind numbing. Schooling with passion and artistry is stunning!!!

  • Shaun May 27, 2010 06:01 am

    I think, like anything else, it's best in moderation, training that is! Someone once said that if you break the rules (the rule of thirds for example) in the name of creativity, that can be interesting! However, if you break it simply because you don't know it, that's not good!

    I've heard studying and training referred to as "Creative Avoidance" in the sense that some think that if they don't feel ready to try something new, they need to learn more! In reality, all they might need to do is get out there and work with what they've learned so far and they can get more out of just practicing it!

  • Kevin Helton May 27, 2010 02:50 am

    Knowledge By Itself is Worthless
    G.I. Joe said, "Knowledge is half the battle." If all you have is knowledge, you fail. You get 50% at most and that is an F. Passion and drive, like written above, is necessary for anyone to be successful at anything. I take that back, you can win at Jeopardy on knowledge alone...

    Passion By Itself is Dangerous
    Think of extremists. A life fueled by emotion alone will be a violently bumpy journey. Knowledge provides the objective reality to keep our passions in check.

    Artistry By Itself is Selfish
    We often hear people say they take photos for their own pleasure. "I do it for myself", they claim. Then why share it? Why put it online? Why put "Copyright _______ Photography" on the image? Art gets its personality from its creator, but it gets its significance from the response of others. There's nothing wrong with taking photos for yourself. But a problem arises when someone posts a not-to-pleasant photo on the internet, someone with knowledge and passion gives an honest critique, then the poster claims art is personal and they liked it and that's all that matters. Whoa there. Art is knowledge mixed with passion, not pride mixed with selfishness.

    My Tone is Harsh in this Post
    Sorry about that :)

    Knowledge + Passion + Artistry = Brilliance
    They must coexist. They must grow together. Knowledge permits the release of passion. Passion invents new Artistry. Artistry encourages one to learn more and more. Then the cycle repeats.

    Knowledge without passion goes unused. Artistry without passion is dull. Passion without knowledge is frustrating. Artistry without knowledge is blind.

  • Lewis May 26, 2010 07:15 am

    I feel as though technical knowledge has been largely undervalued this discussion. I think that in today's world, where camera's and editing software is getting smarter and smarter, technical knowledge is more important than ever. In today's age anyone can take a picture. What sets you apart many times is your ability to outsmart the camera and capture a look that is fresh and new.

  • McGuireuk May 26, 2010 06:33 am

    I personally love the self taught journey. I decided to get into photography in January this year and bought a point and shoot with manual controls available. Now only five months later I love it so much I’ve decided to make the jump to my first DSLR. I could go and do a course but I’m loving learning on here and other sites and finding my feet and also what I like to shoot and how.

    I'll maybe take a stab at a course one day but I don't thin its necessary to enjoy photography or be any good at it.

  • Mo Parker May 25, 2010 08:34 am

    I will bet my last dollar that every great photographer has all three: passion, artistry and training. I believe photography is nowhere without those three. My opinion for what it is worth.

  • Mort Metersky May 25, 2010 03:14 am

    I've read all the comments so far and I don't disagree with what anyone has said. However, no one has considered what "ART" is. Some one once said, "Art is in the eyes of the beholder." Since "art" is a personal and abstract concept what is art to one is junk to another.

    As an example, I showed a photo at a club competition where the theme was "Doors." It was a door in a corn crib on an Amish farm. Very simple, yellow corn and white leaves with the vertical slats and wire enclosure. An outside judge at our club meeting, with a good reputation as a photographer, didn't even comment on my image and it was disqualified.

    One of my teachers, when I was training to become a Docent at an art museum, reviewed my photographic portfolio. Afterwards selected three images for a show that she was forming for a college multimedia juried show where she was the art director. One of them was the corn crib door. Since she had a Doctorate in Art History, I figured that she thought it was artistic.

    As a fine art photographer, so I've been told, I don't concern myself with what other people think of my images. Since I don't have to worry about what the "market" desires, I can exhibit what I consider good images since I don't care if any of them sell.

    I wonder if Ansel Adams, or his contemporary photographers, thought about sales when they were shooting their images? I doubt it. They were taking photographs of what they loved, in Ansels' case, the beauty of Yosemite Parks' mountain vistas. However, each photographer has to decide if photography is hobby to be enjoyed or a means of making a living. In the later case, the targeted clients make the determination.

    If you are a hobbyist, don't worry about whether your image is "art" or not. If you like it that is more important than what others think. Most, if not all the time, they don't know what "ART" is.

  • KUHL May 24, 2010 04:58 pm

    I think that technical ability is necessary and that learning will be on-going as the industry/products change. But I think art is more important. It is what makes an image enduring and valuable. It's what fuels the whole process, money just pays the bills. In the film era, technical ability was what set a good photographer apart, but technology has given us many, many shortcuts and increased the competition. So now, I think the artist's own style is what will set them apart. Developing a unique style and making relevant images for your clients is our largest challenge, not gaining technical ability and knowledge. No one reading this forum is likely to take the finest flower or sunset photo of all time...so what's the point then? Perfect screen-saver type images make fun eye candy, but they are not profound; I really beleive that we are not drawn to perfection, we are drawn to stories, passion, uniqueness, contrast, emotions, people, life, light, etc. Technical competence is necessary. Art is important.

  • Sarah May 24, 2010 01:15 pm

    I believe they're both important. In my case, if it weren't for training/schooling, I would still know nothing about photography. I wouldn't know how to make my pictures better because I wouldn't even know the basic concepts.

    S

  • Didit Mehta May 23, 2010 10:25 pm

    The question is which one is more important? Rather than whether you can be a great photographer in the exclusion of any. You can read a lot of books, attend a lot of training, discuss with various professional photographers, but untill you take lots lots lots of shots then your skills and results will not significantly improved. Surely to take that many shots, woke up early for sunrise moments, going around to find the best vantage point, try various techniques, will require alot of passion and later on develop your artistry.

    Do I read a lot of photography books, magazines, articles (like this one), watch tutorial vidoes and attend training? Yes, I do. However the best lesson we learn from our own bad mistakes, off exposed shots, bad composition and lack of point of interest. Until you are in the field and make mistakes, you never develop what you have learned in the class into your second nature photography instinc

  • john May 23, 2010 04:20 pm

    here is my opinion, a young lady at my work, has a degree in photography from a local college, she doesn't even know how to use the settings on her camera. at work we always use manual mode and poor thing doesn't have a clue. anyway, i believe that passion and artistry are more important, of course you need training, but i believe forums like this one is a 100 times better than some guy at a college, because at the college you are only getting his ideas, and not many people's ideas! if that makes any sense?

  • Mort Metersky May 23, 2010 04:11 am

    I live in an area where impressionist artists painted landscapes. So because of this, people like to buy landscape photographs. I'm more interested in other subjects than landscapes. I like surreal photographs where I take an image of ANYTHING and using Photoshop Elements i create a surreal images. I've sold many images but on one surreal. If I concentrated on landscapes I'd sell a lot more images. Thank goodness I'm retired and have a pension I can live on so I continue to produce the kind of image I like rather than what is commercially desirable. My creativity comes not only from my subject matter but how I represent the result through creative use of Photoshop Elements.

  • B May 23, 2010 03:24 am

    I'd be curious to know how many of the people who are saying that training is unimportant have had any kind of structured training? Schooling, interning/shadowing, whatever aside from "self-taught"?

  • Chris May 23, 2010 12:40 am

    I agree with many of the above posts.

    Passion leads to the training part. In order to improve your passion you will seek advice and techincal skills. I don't have any "formal" training nor do I profess to be an expert. I come to websites like this one to seek advice, tips and training to feed my passion.

    Without the passion is there any desire to take the photos to begin with? To me the answer is no.

  • tin lee May 22, 2010 10:36 pm

    To me, both of em is equally important.

    passion keeps you moving , while Photography Training helps you move faster

  • Kevin Halliburton May 22, 2010 02:21 pm

    Passion and artistry drive me toward the training I need to fulfill my vision.

  • Kyle Bailey May 22, 2010 03:12 am

    As a new photographer with no formal training at all but a passion that I am trying to fulfill through my journey from Rookie to Pro and chronicling on my blog www.rookiephoto.com I would think that both are important and potentially equally valuable.

    Non of my past business ventures have involved any formal education or training. School of hard knocks is about the only formal education I've subscribed to. I also hire staff based largely for attitude and not aptitude. Skills can be taught, learned etc. but if you do not have the passion for what you are doing then you will never be as good as you should be.

    Lots of great online resources, like DPS, and great books that can provide guidance for success.

  • Rudy May 21, 2010 11:55 pm

    My guess is they are both important. The person who is passioned and has an inclination for the artistry part as you call it, but also has training in photography, will be the one to make it. As a self tougth photographer, I often feel the need of a photography lesson. And I have been practicing photography for almost 3 years on a professional level. The passion is burning in me, all I can dream about is photography. I read anything I can get on photography (I am most interested in the artistic part of reading, rather than a technical one), but I feel the need for guidance. And this is what training does. Workshops, specialised courses in photography are extremely important if you want a professional look for your photos.

    On the other hand, there are many amateur photographers out there, that do not work in the field. On this level it is clear that training does not play such an important role. But on a professional level yes, the continous trainig is of capital importance.

  • Jerome Paladino May 21, 2010 11:44 pm

    The passion and artistry are far more important so long as they drive you to get the expertise necessary to realize it. One's art always evolves based on experience and knowledge.

  • B May 21, 2010 11:06 pm

    RE: teaching passion

    Passion can absolutely be taught. Or, rather, with the right guidance, we can find passion that we didn't know exists. Example: throughout school, I was never very interested or passionate about history. none of it really stuck, I couldn't remember important names, dates, or places, and I barely saw the application to anything in today's real world. In college, for no particular reason, I took a WWII history course, and it completely changed my outlook; the combination of the subject and the teaching style ignited a passion I'd never had for any kind of history, and now I'm interested in the things I glossed over in high school.

    We don't really know where passion "comes from". So, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. I think, under the right circumstances, anyone could become passionate about photography. Just because you really, really, really like it doesn't make you special or mean you have a magical touch.

  • kate May 21, 2010 10:20 pm

    That would depend on your goals wouldn't it? Having training makes it easier to get into some branches of photography. Being creative helps in others. Passion is probably best for all. Few people are unique and so talented to get by on passion and their art alone. In something like photography you probably are already passionate about it if you're doing it since it is still inherently an art since it's creation. If you're no good in general with art the training can make up for it. Quality in the product and skill can make up for lack of creativity and suit a purpose. Artistry can make up for lack of skill in technique if it's just that interesting.

  • bruceaction May 21, 2010 09:17 pm

    Photography is a life of learning, even hard work,having a passion brings that knowledge to life..life in your photography will inspire positive comment from viewer's of your work. Which of course is satisfying.

    I send my Photos to sick people and others,because there is a sense of healing in creative photography'

    knowledge develops skill. developed skill develops great results..and pleasing out comes.

  • Blake E May 21, 2010 09:08 pm

    I feel that passion is required more so than the actual know how of working a camera, as with all things in life it requires a mix of skill and the personal drive (need if you will) to carry the procedure out. Anyone can be taught how to physically take a picture that is flawless to any rule wise extent. This is simply because techniques can be taught, but it comes down to those small (I can’t explain it exactly) bits of information that transform you from a lady with a photo album to a real photographer. For example, let’s assume hypothetically that we take a child that has never played soccer and set him next to another child that was extremely skilled in soccer. Yes, the second child would be capable of teaching the first child how to play to the extent of rules and simple techniques of how to trap the ball, but when you get into a game and you single in on the moment (finally getting back to photography here, as in when you are about to take the photo) that is something you can’t describe. A natural and unexplainable part of you takes over and controls you giving you an edge to the rest that are unable to do this. Simply put this preset mindset that takes over is what separates the best from the rest.

  • David May 21, 2010 08:26 pm

    Hi
    Interesting question with what could be a simple answer - Passion, this leads to learning, without passion you won't learn. You need passion to get up at 3am to shoot that morning sunrise, you need passion to go back the next day because you didn't get it right (that's when the learning starts to kick in!). Then the more you learn the more passionate you get, passionate about the fine tuning, about the colour, focus etc suddenly you as passionate about finding out the more technical bits and so-on. The more you find out the more you try and the more you want to find out and explore and these leads to artistry. Without the passion you would have stopped at the first sunrise when it didn't go as planed.
    All great artists were passionate about image making and ideas, technical skills were just learn along the way, a means to an end. So passion leads to learning, learning leads to skill, skill leads to artistry, artistry leads back passion, and around we go again.

  • Karen Stuebing May 21, 2010 07:37 pm

    All of the above.

    You have to master the technical aspects of your camera and standard and unusual photographic techniques. You can of course learn these by accident if you are imaginative and have a good idea. Not the camera part. You have to know how your camera works and how to use it.

    You have to have passion and desire to create beautiful or compelling photographs or you'll just lose interest. If you have passion, you will always want to get better and better. Or you might even get weirder and weirder but that's not a bad thing.

    I've read all the comments about marketing and they are true. Mediocre photographers can succeed if they are good marketing specialists.

    So don't do it for the money. Do it for yourself

  • mike (SneddigArt) May 21, 2010 06:44 pm

    i do agree with top two! i would like to say from my point of view, they are both very important. like the Jim News said, alot of people get lucky, they point, click, and wow,,,, how did i do that! alot of them also like alot what they have done, so they endevour to learn about what it is that gets you results such as the one that really caught your passion for that capture! this gives proof, that while passion is something that drives so many of use to pick up the camera and capture what it is about this world that takes our breath away, or capturing an image that we feel speaks a little about what we are feeling, or tells the story of who we are at that point in our life, a little camera training definitly wont set you back any! cameras can be funny sometimes, anything from a dirty lense to a wrong setting can smash your chances of the right capture to embed what it is you were wanting to express through that image! knowing the mechanics of how the camera works, and what handicaps our cameras full potential, can give you the edge in preventing camera folly! as far as artistry, honestly, that comes from who you are! find what it is that gives you the chill down your spine, and breath of fresh air once captured! You follow that instinct, you will never go wrong, and never be let down! and people will sense that passion you put into it, thats the joy of art i think! Technique is gained through experience, and darren rowse! he has inspired me numerous times to try techniques i have never tried before, as well as come up with a few of my own, tailored to achieve unique effects i can truly relate myself too! so learning photography, technique, equipment, and even a little about art, is a great idea! but keep true to your passion with it, and the artistry will come like second nature!

  • margaretha toerien May 21, 2010 05:25 pm

    Totally agree with Jim News above; DPS and Scott Kelby have been my ongoing source of technical know-how whilst I do what I love the most!

  • Jim Dearden May 21, 2010 05:04 pm

    I totally agree with a lot of the comments already made - If you ain't got the 'eye' you'll never never make it fly. The technical basics are relatively easy to learn even if you apply a monkey see - monkey do approach. Copying (say a lighting setup) is not cheating - it's a training technique - learning to analyze how a photograph is taken and then trying to reproduce it is a great way of developing a technical understanding. However, there's very little point if you can't apply that knowledge artistically (creatively). Of course there is a need for high technical skill in lots of different areas of the photographic business, but technical skill doesn't necessarily mean good photographs - you can light it, focus and expose it correctly but if the composition/subject is bad it ain't going to be a world beating photo. On the other hand I have witnessed the (frustrated) attempts of the 'artistically gifted' as they totally fail to come to grips with the equipment. My conclusion is that there is (as in life) a continuum and its better to fall somewhere in the middle - not too techy geek or arty-farty, but just right.

  • Leah May 21, 2010 04:54 pm

    technical knowledge = tools in your tool kit
    passion alone can sometimes not give you exactly what you want without the knowledge of how to achieve it technically.
    passion is essential.
    technical knowledge will only make you faster and better at capturing what your passionate side wants to capture.
    i agree that if you think too much and fiddle with buttons too much you can miss the moment or miss the connectin with the subject. but on the other hand if you have a spare milisecond and can adjust settings that quickly, then there's no loss.

  • Ajay Singh May 21, 2010 04:32 pm

    One leads to the other, when a person has passion for Photography, he will go through a Photography Training. Now that can be formal or informal. Passion will drive the person to experiment, in his experiments he will make mistakes, the measures he will take to correct his mistakes will be his Photography training..

  • Rachel Wattson May 21, 2010 03:14 pm

    I agree with Jim and Picture Perfect. You can have all the knowlege and understand the mechanics and "rules" but having the 'eye' or a true talent is what will keep the passion. Now when it comes to business, meeting clients and keeping clients: that has nothing to do with your art at all! You may take fantasitic pictures but it won't count for anything if you don't have business sense and people skills. If you have the talent and passion and want to be sucessful in the industry on your own you need business knowlege. Networking is extremely helpful too.

  • michelle May 21, 2010 03:09 pm

    definately....if you have artistry then the passion will get you where you want to be.
    You have to be able to see the picture in your imagination before you shoot it!
    M

  • Philip Morris May 21, 2010 03:02 pm

    No matter what you need to know your equipment. Fortunately passion will get you that knowledge one way or another. Artistry is how you are different than the photographer next to you. The hard part is realizing your artistry and finding the way to market it. I know a great many photographers that are incredible, and completely unable to figure out what they do and how to sell themselves. Now the real question is: "Is passion and artistry enough? Or do you need business training?"

  • Carlo Marudo May 21, 2010 01:16 pm

    Passion and Artistry definitely is more important than training, even with a great camera.

    I for myself started photography out of those two words. I didn't have any DSLR, even a point-and-shoot cam, I only had a mobile phone with a camera function to it. Great shots can be successfully taken with any camera in hand, as well as even without training. The knack to take a good shot than just simple ones shows passion and artistry to Photography.

    Also, one may have more than sufficient training, but Artistry shows what kind of a photographer we are, how we take pictures, and "what for?". I believe that every photographer started out with only passion to take pictures, developed artistry as means to express one's shots, then training to further improve one's skills....then went into making it as a profession (as in to earn).[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlo_marudo/4595214995/' title='Phuket 037' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3026/4595214995_9936024d08.jpg']

  • Jim News May 21, 2010 12:28 pm

    If you have a real passion, you will naturally be inclined to learn. Artistry is subjective, technical skills are not, but they are critical to understanding the art you are creating. That said, in the digital age, it is easier than ever to learn on your own. Sites like DPS, books like Understanding Exposure and others are fantastic. I know many hobby photographers who simply bought a P&S or DSLR and kept turning dials and pushing buttons until they got a shot they liked, yet they were completely unable to replicate those shots, they just got lucky. For most of them, that small success bred a passion, causing them to extend that passion by learning.
    I've been making pictures for over 25 years and I can honestly say I learn something every day I shoot or read about shooting, I learn from pros and novices and everyone in between.
    I will say however, that in my years in photography, while I know many who have a mastery of equipment, exposure, light... the best picture makers have the "eye".

  • Dru Stefan Stone May 21, 2010 12:03 pm

    This is a question like the exposure triangle question. It could be quite different for each person yet tremendous results take all three. They are all important yet for some one seems to be the first thing they tackle. When I turn to my drawing, I believe I can teach anyone to draw with practice, but being an artist comes from deep within that bursts forth into something spectacular when allowed. I can't teach creativity, it has to be from the heart. Photography I see in the same light. You can probably teach anyone to take a good photo with all the right information and camera knowledge, but without the ability to create and take it to a new level they will just be a "good photographer" and without the passion, perhaps not even that! My thought it takes all three in some fashion to be really quite good at what you do!

  • Caterina May 21, 2010 11:53 am

    I think that even if you do not begin with having photographic training your photographic passion and artistry will drive you to get the training you need to fuller develop your ideas, whether the training is "professional" or self taught depends on the artist discipline for learning.

  • pictureperfect May 21, 2010 11:37 am

    I believe that no one takes up an interest in any field or subject with some passion involved. Without it, you’re wasting your time because you will not excel in it. You will eventually lose your energy and drive, and move on to something else. So passion is automatic, in my opinion.

    I do feel that it’s important to learn the technical aspects of photography. However, to be a truly top-notch photographer, you must simply have an “eye” for it. Some individuals simply do not, while there are those who can create something out of nothing regardless of their subject matter or location. These are the true artists.

    Now if one is attempting to make photography a full-time job or mostly full-time, it is essential that they learn the business and marketing aspect of it through and through. These skills are essential to be successful from a professional standpoint. Networking is a must in nearly all professions nowadays, so that is important as well. The more individuals that are aware of you, the better opportunity to obtain work in the field.

    I have seen an incredible amount of photographs over the years from various websites, magazines, books, and other media, some professional, some not. Thanks to digital cameras, some of the non-professional images rival those of the pros, so it isn’t always the quality of the image, but how you market yourself. I’ve met some “professional” photographers whose work was marginal at best, but were still able to get work.

    So in conclusion, I feel that both technical and artistic aspects are equally important in photography today. Having both will make you that much better of a photographer.

  • Mei Teng May 21, 2010 11:01 am

    Jaina's comment on "those who are truly passionate and want to learn will find their way".

    I truly agree on this one :)

  • Mei Teng May 21, 2010 10:24 am

    I believe you need knowledge (or training), passion and artistry. I am a self learning hobbyist. Unlike those who have had training in photography, I spend time to educate myself on photographic techniques as well as allow my passion and artistry to help me realise my vision. So yes, you definitely need all three to do well in the industry.

  • terryd May 21, 2010 09:24 am

    There are SO MANY good replies here, it's hard to know which is best ... I think most of us agree with Ricardo who said " ... we need Passion to make Artistry, No Passion No Artistry." I think all of the opinions are right, though in different ways. I look on all the aspects as essential. Knowledge is necessary, it's foundational and you can get that through schooling, from reading, or dozens of other ways. You also need skill ... developed in classes or by trial and error or apprenticeship or any other means. Technical perfection doesn't make great pictures though. Great pictures flow from passion and commitment which uses the skills and the knowledge to rise to the level of art. I see it like this:

    [eimg url='http://www.wx7s.com/images/ArtOfPhotography.gif' title='ArtOfPhotography.gif']

  • Gene Lee May 21, 2010 09:19 am

    Without passion, one's work tends to be sterile, so whether or not it is technically correct it will not stand when tried in the court of client opinion. A great artistic eye without knowledge for using the equipment cannot realize the full potential of the vision. So, one really needs all three, passion, art, and education.

    Where we get hung up is on the term, education. Many seem to equate education only with formal education, an unfortunate trend that appears to be on the increase. For the professional of any field, learning is a lifelong process. The person who knows how to learn and has the drive to find out what they need to know for success, it doesn't matter where the knowledge comes from, all that matters is that the hunger be continually fed. Formal schooling, books, tutorials, seminars, observation, and experimentation are all valid learning venues. Passion for the art will fuel the hunger for knowledge.

  • Bruce May 21, 2010 09:04 am

    I graduated from a premier institution on the west coast (California), and shortly thereafter launched into the world of photography from the manufacturer side (Fuji Films). I would say that after running a studio set up, darkrooms, and working in the same building as a professional/amateur processing facility (also owned by Fuji), it would be folly for me to assume lots of folks get into this trade without some training. That being said, you can have great artistic talent and bomb in the industry. Business skills were not the main focus in school (sorry for the pun), and boy do most people bomb right there. This is true for all skills though. I am also a professional electrician and find my business shines only when I apply 100% there too. It's about gaining respect from clients by doing an excellent job, estimating correctly, and getting new business constantly. Good luck getting all that done with artistry alone, but passion....now that's what it's ALL about. Be passionate about it all and your business will flourish.

  • Dan Proud May 21, 2010 08:47 am

    Passion and Artistry without a doubt come first. Of course schooling is necessary to make it in the industry - but the artistic eye is what determines a great photographer!

  • johnp May 21, 2010 08:26 am

    I think passion and artistry comes first and is more important otherwise you won't have the drive to make it in the industry. They are not exclusive however as you also need the skills to be able to properly translate that passion into art.

  • Anthony Hereld May 21, 2010 08:20 am

    Awesome topic!

    I agree with what many others have already said: passion and artistry come first. I have seen many. many great shots done with cheap cameras because the subjects were taken from unique angles or something else spectacular. On the flip side, there are tons of ho-hum shots taken by "pros" with lots of schooling and experience under their belts.

  • cdoell May 21, 2010 07:11 am

    What a great topic and the responses have alot of experience and insight in them. I have to agree with those that place passion and artistry first. Without these, the training would be lifeless and just that, only training. Can you teach passion?(I'm not sure!) We have all taken courses where we have become "certified" but nothing drives us to become better. We are only as good as the piece of paper says we are. That is where passion and training together push us forward to be "masters" at what we enjoy. There have been a few responses directed to the business end of photography. We all have to agree how important this knowledge and for some, having an innate ability, is to have if we want to take our enjoyment and personal success to money-making ability. Like any business oriented venture, it is a process but I think the passion needs to be there to be the driving force for everything else to follow.

  • A.Kraft May 21, 2010 07:08 am

    With out the Passion, there will be no artistry, and without the artistry, no amount of photography training can help you... I tend to believe all are intertwined, none is more important that the other.
    Passion can lead to training, then artistry.
    Training can lead to artistry, then passion.
    If you have the talent, cultivate it with training.
    If you have the training but no talent, find PASSION in your photography, learn to have fun with it. (I strongly recommend the 365 project for this!)
    If it seems you were not meant to be the next Dave Hill, don't give up. As long as your income does not depend on photography, do not fret if you truly enjoy it.

  • Chris Baldwin May 21, 2010 07:05 am

    Passion is the key....if you have it there are no obstacles....anything you want to learn is available on the internet....and passion will cause you to study harder and practice more. Formal training is good in anything but too often filled with too much regimental thinking.
    I take on whatever type of photo I want to do next by googling it and I am off to the races....if you have the time and oppurtunity try the formal route....otherwise let your passion guide you.
    Chris

  • Cristina Daigle May 21, 2010 06:38 am

    Hmmmm!!!That is a good question..I am a novice in Photography, I do believe that schooling,Passion and Artistry has to come hand in hand.It is like a triangle that its point are interrelated to one another.
    Without passion I would not be interested in going to school and do a lot of reading and learning my camera.how it works and what it does.Without Artistry then we I am just like a child that I will point and shot whatever come my way.So...there is no wrong and right answer to these question. I believe being Artistic will diffirentiate your work from someone else..

    Magnoliarose
    San Diego,Ca.

  • Jeffy Can May 21, 2010 06:34 am

    Very interesting question. First off though, I wouldn't even couple passion and artistry together. Perhaps its best weighed out as three separate areas.

    First, passion. I believe passion is likely to be the most important of the three and can take you the furthest in terms of photographic practice or any other medium for that matter. Having passion can truly create inspiration, and generate happiness from active practice of photography. Thus, I believe this to be the most important.

    Artistry is a complex concept. Art in itself I feel very ambiguous and can be very amorphous in terms of definition. While I believe a certain part of artistry is innate, in the sense of creativity, I believe a lot of it can be developed through education just as technical training can. Understanding artistry requires an understanding of art, its history and its current practice. And thus, education can develop the ability to critically think about art, understand the symbolism of images as well as depicting things through metaphor.

    Technical training I think almost the least important in some ways. We've seen many photographers, filmmakers, painters, etc. use very unconventional styles which developed both inside and outside of schooling. I myself have never taken any photography classes, but rather learned purely through experimentation with the camera. I think as long as a distinct style and message is constructed within a body of work, an artist can be considered whole. All in all, I think technical training may help the most in helping someone make money from their photography.

    All in all, I think only when all three of these aspects are maximized that a photographer can really be considered complete in their practice.

  • MIke C May 21, 2010 06:20 am

    This is an interesting topic. I think to be in any field that requires creativity, an individual most strike a good balance of art and practice. You just have to evaluate yourself in what you lack in your creative field. You should also be more in tune with the trend. So to answer your question, I think you should have a Passion for growth to balance your accumulated knowledge in photography. Always ask yourself what's next instead of repeating yourselves too much.

  • Shanna Sechler May 21, 2010 06:15 am

    A year ago I might have answered this question differently, but since then I have taken my first photography class. Passion is an absolute must to turn out art. Without it your photographs are just good pictures. However, knowing things like how to work your camera, and make light work for you, are not things you can really teach yourself. I taught myself a lot, but how could I have taught myself what an aperture was, how to change it and why by just fiddling with my camera and taking pictures? However, I must stand by the idea that no matter how well you can use a camera, nothing can similate having an artisitc passion for what you do.

  • miss c May 21, 2010 05:51 am

    I know a photographer who has no passion at photography at all (I know because he told that he work as photographer only to make money, nothing more, nothing less). But his photographs is amazing, I can say that. And yes, he got what he want (money!). How could you explain that? ;)

  • Nicole May 21, 2010 05:48 am

    In my opinion, it depends on so many things. First, as has been mentioned, if succeeding in the photography industry means being able to run your business well, you may need training in that. But then again, there are also people who have gone through using trial and error to become successful in business, so it's not a given, it's just something that is potentially more difficult to figure out than the photography side of things.

    In terms of actual artistic training, I think this comes down to the way that you learn. I don't think it's necessary to have a formal artistic education if you're willing to put in the time and effort to learn and research the techniques that go along with taking pictures and you're willing to put in the hard yards to put your learning and research into practice. However, if you aren't good at self-guided study, then I think a formal education may do more to increase your passion than self-learning (which, if you aren't comfortable with that, could lead to more frustration). As has been said a few times, I do think that if you don't have the passion for it, you won't be involved in it very long.

    Artistry though... I think that artistry and technique each have their own place within a photograph. I think that knowing the technique you need to get that artistic vision across is going to make things much easier. And I do have a hard time overlooking what I consider to be lots of technical flaws to see if a photo is artistic. But that, I believe, comes down to what your definition of artistic is, and that's probably as individual as can be!

  • Dale Simmons May 21, 2010 05:38 am

    Take it from a guy who learned the hard way. Passion, artistry and pure adrenalin is what I ran on at first. The down side here is, one will purchase the wrong equipment for the wrong job. Sell that stuff at a loss and get the right stuff after the educational portion is completed. I still have the passion and the artistry, but the training was invaluable.

  • B May 21, 2010 05:24 am

    Business sense is worth more than both, combined.

    In terms of creating good work, it depends on the person. Some people are naturally artistically talented, and formal education won't do much. Some people can indeed learn artistry through education. And some people find that schooling greatly enhances what latent talent they already had.

    I'm not sure why passion and artistry are linked in the question. There are plenty of great artists who are not passionate about creating work. But passion -- drive, determination, relentlessness -- is a good way to get anything done.

    Weird question.

  • Anita May 21, 2010 05:16 am

    I'd have to say yes and no, and also it depends on the "schooling" or "training" involved.

    On the one hand, as many pointed out, knowing how to use your equipment and basic theoretical elements makes it easier to express your artistry and passion, and gives you a broader range of options. On the other hand, very specific training can limit one's range to what is considered the "tried and true" and discourage creativity and innovation to an extent.

    One very successful marketing guru once said that his lack of formal training was his biggest asset, because he was not bound by what he was taught. He could try something new without the inherent fear of failure that comes from doing something you know is not common or accepted practice.

  • Tyler May 21, 2010 05:00 am

    Yes and no. This is a regularly heard argument in grad school. Well, not specifically passion vs. artistry. I have heard the craft vs concept argument time and time again. I think knowing your tools is important, if you know the rules and techniques then you are more apt to push the limits. Happy accidents are cool, but if it is an accident, it might not be repeatable. I know a lot of creative people who suck at photography. I like wood working, but I am not great at it. There's something to be said about skill. I am not a fan of some photographers work, but I do appreciate their technique.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever May 21, 2010 04:43 am

    You must have passion and artistry behind your photography, but without knowledge or basic 'schooling' (whether self taught or through formal classes) nothing can come from it. It would be like giving Tiger Woods a hockey stick. Sure he has a lot of drive and athletic talent, but he knows jack about Hockey.

    My Photography Blog

    My Blog about other stuff.

  • Sherry May 21, 2010 04:42 am

    I think that passion and artistry are maybe not more important than schooling but pretty close. In my opinion someone with a passion for photography will be good at it regardless if they have schooling or not. Learning the techniques and stuff would definitely be easier though. For myself I have a great passion for photography and I'm taking a photography class right now. I already knew most of the techniques and how to use them properly from my own eye but now I know what they're called and how to emphasize the 'umphh' in them. I think people with passion and schooling make the best photographers.

  • Tony May 21, 2010 04:38 am

    I can tell you that being (mostly) self taught, I lean more to the art and passion side. That being said, I can tell you that learning more about the technical side of photography has helped to stretch me more and become a better photographer. It has also made me faster in my processes. Its true that artistry and passion can drive experimentation beyond the confines of technical training, but I've photographed many subjects that have had very little interest and patience in me being experimental during a shoot. Many want the comfort of knowing that you know what you are doing.

    Also, there is more to photography then just the camera. Dialing in a good workflow is crucial for everything that happens after the photo shoot. That is where I feel I have benefitted the most...learning and adhering to a good post-process workflow.

    Nothing beats having an "eye" and some passion but back it up with some training and you can be "deadly.'

  • Edward G May 21, 2010 04:31 am

    I think that if we were still in a film era, I would say that training is far more important than passion/drive. In the age of film where one had a finite number of pictures that could be taken on a roll, there was extra cost for film, developing, etc, it was very important to have training that would allow frustration to not be compounded by finite resources and expanding costs. However, with the advent of digital photography, there is greater freedom for people to experiment with their cameras, seeing what works, what doesn't, etc. I think the best learning happens as people just try things and learn from their successes and mistakes. Since purchasing my first digital camera 8 or so years ago and then moving to a DSLR 5 years ago, I have taken far more pictures than I ever have and have experimented in ways that I never would have with a film camera. I am able to take 100 shots of a subject without worrying about running out of film or paying to develop 5 rolls of film.

    As a result, I feel I am a far better photographer than I was before.

  • Thomas Eriksen May 21, 2010 04:09 am

    I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago that talked about success and innovation. There were big names there and one had also interviewed hundreds of successful people (Bill Gates, Larry Page (Google), etc).

    The nr 1 thing that drove people to success was passion. Second was hard work and then focus. Talent (as we know) will only get you one step ahead in the beginning. Those who e.g focused on the money did not succeed.

  • Alan J May 21, 2010 04:02 am

    I agree with Andrew, passion glass & the eye, for me is vital, and shoot shoot shoot, read everything you can like DPS,123 and listen when people comment on your work.
    Aj

  • Chicago May 21, 2010 03:59 am

    I thought about this another way. When I thought about this question I felt that even those with passion and artistry will end up getting training. If they don't do formal training such as classes, workshops, etc, then the training will come at the School of Try and Try Again. In other words they are doing self-training. There may be frustration when what is in their head doesn't happen in the camera, but the passion will propel them to keep trying. However, if someone is not passionate and artistic to some degree will they really stay with this craft? Photography evolves and we all are continually learning.

  • Andrew Miller May 21, 2010 03:43 am

    I've been learning about photography for over 50 years and am still learning - no amount of passion, artistry and technical learning replaces having "the eye" - the ability to see the finished picture in your mind. In many cases to see beyond what just appears in the viewfinder. If you have that eye then you can take great pictures and then you need passion, artistry and technical know how in order to achieve your desired result. Many never achieve this great state and I know many technically perfect photographers who in my opinion churn out loads of technically perfect, but soulless pictures. Still half the fun is to continue trying, if you ever stop learning photographically then your passion and art dies.

  • Michelle May 21, 2010 03:40 am

    Excellent question! Couple of thoughts come to mind. When you do not have the education behind you (therory) the photographer at first be able to "talk the talk" and will only learn through happy accidents. Of course, this is could be argued that a grad from a top school might not be able to "talk the talk or walk the walk" either.

    My opinion is that is up to the individual. If they are passionate about learning photography then there are ways to learn how to achieve it!

    Happy Shoot everyone!

  • Shelley J May 21, 2010 03:32 am

    Hi, that's a thought that has lingered in my mind for ever. I think to be a good photographer you need to have both passion and art imbedded in you. To me if you don't have an eye for photography, to be able to form an image which you can see and capture with out playing around with it is true photography. Today I feel too much importance is given to having a good camera rather than being able to create good work. At the same time it's passion that pushes and helps create the right image. Photography is art and today I think in the industery that's what is needed and also appreciated.
    I also feel to understand it you do need to study it as a subject as it is a school of thougnt. I love it and having studied it and worked in the field and feel that my studies helped develop my passion further to a another world.

  • Darlene Donald May 21, 2010 03:21 am

    I started out a few years back just having fun with my Canon Rebel EOS XTI that my husband bought me. I had always loved taking photos but felt I had no time to really dive into it. It wasn't until I started taking unposed photos of my niece while she played in the park when I saw that I did actually have a good eye for the artistic side of photography. The problem for me was I didn't have a lot of knowledge of how my camera worked. I bought books to browse through, looked at lots of pretty pictures, but didn't really study them until just recently. I think I was worried that I would lose the passion if I started studying it more. I thought the fun would be gone if it seemed like work. When I started selling my photos on greeting cards, this is where I had a real problem. These photos were mostly taken for fun and each one had a story behind it. Putting a price tag on them was difficult. Granted, I got used to it after my first successful craft fair. I am now actively working on starting up a website and focusing on portraits and children at play. I have no real equipment, like flashes backdrops yet but I find great pleasure in shopping around for makeshift items to get the same effect for cheaper. I still have a great passion for the art of photography and it grows each day that I take more shots. I do, however, appreciate the knowledge I learn from books, websites such as this, and feedback from fellow photographers.I feel comfortable now calling myself a photographer.
    If I am not learning someting new each day, then I fear I have lost my passion. I don't think that day will come any time soon!!!

  • SNAPS! by ensink May 21, 2010 03:16 am

    both are blown away by one solid thing: TALENT! (which is a gift from nature)

  • phillip hughey May 21, 2010 03:15 am

    Personally, I study, practice, ask questions, do workshops and classes - everything I can to better prepare my arsenal. But when I’m out shooting, I have to let all that go and be receptive and open. The technical part is as important, but if I'm prepared, it will happen as second nature and not be a hindrance to the creative experience.

  • Randyinok May 21, 2010 03:08 am

    Passion, Artistry, Schooling, Education; I've read a lot of the responses and I really can't find a wrong answer. Could it be that what's right for you is what you're most comfortable with? We are all individuals and we all respond in our own unique individual ways. Find your own true mixture of Passion, Artistry, Schooling and Education to be the photograher you want to be. Be yourself and take your own path. The journey is part of the enjoyment.

  • Greatbear May 21, 2010 02:50 am

    This seems to be a trick question. Passion/Artistry and Training aren't, according to me, mutually exclusive.

    Not just as a business of a professional, but even as a hobby or a constructive pastime, more so for the latter.

    Technical know-how induces a consciousness into the process of making pictures, which is often the very fuel for passion to survive/grow/evolve/mature. Otherwise, there's a chance you'll get bored soon if you keep shooting away without much thought, even if it was a passion to begin with. In this regard, something like even the process of studying subjects for photography is a part of that training. Some people are, well, gifted. But for all others, the PROCESS of making pictures, and here I speak for myself, is the most enjoyable, even with my rather modest exposure to the technical side of photography. And it is only in the light of what I was intending, can I review what I produce.

    So yes, they are both important and as someone earlier has mentioned, technical know-how is perhaps an entry point. Like a minimum requirement to take a certain standard of pictures EVERY TIME. Most importantly, in any training as with any creative field in an age where technology and paradigms are changing at an immeasurably exponential rate, its most important to learn how to learn.

  • Jason Collin Photography May 21, 2010 02:45 am

    I will say neither. If you want to make it in the photography industry, which I take to mean if you want to be a professional photographer (sole income from photography, or at least over half), the most important thing is one's business and marketing sense. Looking online we too often just see the best of the best photographers. They are both passionate and highly skilled.

    However, look at your local pro photographer's websites. Are you impressed by all of their portfolios? Look at Craigslist if you really want a shock at the quality of images being used to advertise there by many photographers.

    It has made me realize in the past year that making money in photography is not most dependent on one's skills, but on your business and marketing sense. Why? I guess part of the reason is most people do not know what a great photograph looks like or what makes a great photograph. They get marketed to by someone who says they are a pro and has a slick website, marketing materials (postcards, pamphlets, etc) and see that their images are at least better than the snapshots they take themselves, therefore I will hire this person.

    So I would state that for the most part it is better to be an extraordinary business/marketing person with decent/so-so-questionable photography skills/passion than the most artistic photographer in your area with weak business/marketing skills.

    Personally, I am trying to strike a balance between both because I of course believe the strength of a photographer's work alone should be enough to make a living, but in reality and personal experience I know the real keys are networking, marketing and more networking.

  • NickM May 21, 2010 02:44 am

    I would have to say that artistry is a must. Schooling can teach you it or you can have it naturally, but you need to have it. Passion is sort of a given, since if you weren't passionate about photography you probably wouldn't be doing it. Schooling isn't necessary, but it could take you much longer to reach your goal without it. That's why were all on this website every week (or every day :) ), to learn how to take better photos without having to spend countless hours with experimentation.

  • Ronald May 21, 2010 02:40 am

    it's a pretty good question...
    well, i can say from my point of view yea? in photography passion and artistry IS more important than training. it's pretty much vive versa in some context. but but but, without passion and artistry, no matter what training you go though you won't even capture a good photograph.
    photography is like art, you need to feel it to compose it then capture it. training is like a spice to a bowl of tasteless spaghetti. with that little spice it will taste just right.
    practice makes perfect, so it's practice practice practice = shoot shoot and shoot some more..

    chill...
    Ron-T

  • Michelle May 21, 2010 02:39 am

    I come at this from a designer's viewpoint...one who has hired many photographers. I would disagree that passion is what creates art. It's an artistic eye that creates art; passion only determines one's attitude (which could range anywhere from insightful and willing to haughty and difficult) and the amount of determination one has to create on a regular basis and get it seen.

    I would rate the importance of artistry, passion and schooling (technical competence) in the following order, along with other necessary qualities to make it in the photography industry. If you don't have the first three qualities (in any order), the rest really don't matter. If people skills and business savvy come before an artistic eye, you can still make it in the industry but it's the artistic eye that will separate you from the competition:

    1. an artistic eye - separates you from the competition
    2. people skills - determines revenue stream/income potential
    3. business/marketing savvy - determines business longevity and potential for growth
    4. technical competence - one can learn in increments and offer a niche product/service, adding to it as skills are gained
    5. passion - determines the number of hoops you're willing to jump through to make all of the above happen well when you're not necessarily feeling like you're in your element

  • Richard L. Dawson May 21, 2010 02:36 am

    There is no one 'right' answer to this question. Passion is what drives us to create, to seek the knowledge of how to create what our artistry 'sees'. Schools teach people how someone else does it. Our passion is what drives us to create new ways of creating when the established methods aren't producing the artistic results our passion is yearning for.

    School provide a basis for going further, faster and gives you the background to know what has gone before. Then you have the opportunity to build on it. However, that is not a reason to require a person to attend a specific school or any school for that matter. I am a bit biased here as I have done rather well in the careers I have had with no 'school' instruction. I read voraciously and talk to others in the fields I am interested in. I am a mostly self taught soldier, woodworker, writer, photographer, database administrator, data architect, programmer (in several languages), herbalist, sailor and other things I haven't even tried yet.

    The main point is that my passion is what drove me to try any of that and to seek the knowledge of how to achieve the artistic levels I was looking for. Knowledge is available for those that seek it. In school or out.

    Have a great day.
    Richard

  • Nyamz May 21, 2010 02:24 am

    Tommy from above ( last post) can you contact me? I would like to ask a few questions about your comment.
    My email alakie@hotmail.com. Thanks!

    ps: All this info. is extremely helpful

  • dan May 21, 2010 02:21 am

    In my experience, passion is more important than artistry, because I feel a much stronger need to take photographs than I do to express some artistic vision. It's my intention that the photographs speak for themselves, not for me. I feel that technical proficiency is also key so that I'll remove as many errors from the process as possible when trying to capture something. It's something I also feel like I need to constantly improve.

    I'd also be careful using the word "schooling." I feel very confident behind the viewfinder and in the darkroom having never had a photography class.

  • Punit Acharya May 21, 2010 02:20 am

    I believe that all the three components are vital and its all these 3 components that makes a difference between a good photograph and an awesome photograph.

    You cannot sustain in the long run (photography industry) if you lack any of these components. I also feel that the way it goes is passion gives way to artistry which is usually followed by gaining knowledge.
    However, I believe the knowledge gain can be in any form. I doesn't necessarily requires a formal schooling.
    Take digital-photography-school, as an example and source to acquire knowledge.

  • Vijay Ananth May 21, 2010 02:11 am

    Hi,
    I have a camera (if that is a prerequisite to post here:)

    Passion, Artistry and training. IMO none of the three can exist without the other two. We are not born with passion for photography or with a camera in hand :). At some point we get involved. I can not learn without passion, and art will not come out without practice. All the three - Passion, Artistry and training go hand in hand.
    I believe we must give equal importance to passion and training. The byproduct of passion and practice (that is traiing) is art/masterpiece.

    *Sorry for my bad english*
    Vijay

  • Tommy May 21, 2010 02:10 am

    I just started going to school for photography after shooting for several years; finances prohibited me until now. I was afraid I had to enroll in college and pay thousands in books and tuition. But after some searching, I found a "certificate" program was available and each class was generally no more than $200 US.

    In just my first 6 weeks, I now comfortably shoot in manual mode and I now know how to get the shot I'm after. Before, it was trial and error and I never truly got my desired result. I've always had great passion about photography and can attest about being frustrated about not getting the shot I wanted because I didn't know the proper way to do so.

    I feel I've learned more in these 6 weeks at school than I have these last few years scouring the internet and it's really shown in my work.

  • Greg May 21, 2010 02:10 am

    With the education you will can take poor photo's and know why; with artisty you can take great photo's but not know why.

  • Antoine Lovell May 21, 2010 02:09 am

    "Schooling" is very important when it comes down to "How do I do it" and the "How does it work". It is vital to your decision to be a photographer and/or artist. You must know the in's and out's of your equipment as well as how a change in settings may affect your photos. You may have a passion for the art, but it is no good to you if you don't have the knowledge to make it work. Pretty much like a person who has a passion for healing and helping others in need of medical attention. What good is the passion and desire, if you do not have the skills necessary? Sure, we who love photography can take any camera and take a great snapshot ... add a little effort and take a great artistic photo. But so can a non-trained person remove a splinter. In order to be a great physician, many years of training are required. To become a Doctor, you must know the equipment you are using and, you must have a full working knowledge of the human body (inside and out). It is the same for Photography. It is wise to know your equipment. How it works, how it will affect what you are doing. Passion? We all have a passion else we wouldn't be doing this type of work. I've had a long loved passion for photography. Yet never had the means to let go my creativity. Now I do. I find that most of the time I shoot just for the love of being creative; for the desire to be on the camera back and simply getting a nice photo. Enter my investment in a DSLR. School is back in session. Learning my cam, playing with all the different functions and testing it for its capabilities, I find that now I am taking better photos. And that is important to me. That is where my passion comes to play and the artistry shows in the work.

  • Lillian Wilkins May 21, 2010 02:07 am

    This is something I've thought about a lot. I think artistry and passion are crucial to being successful, because without it, you're just in it to make money. And that takes away from the art of photography.

    On the other hand, I feel like it's really trendy these days for people to buy a DLSR and decide they're going to start a photography business--with absolutely no experience or training. I think it's important for any photographer--or artist of any medium--to realize they still have things to learn and can always improve. So I don't think one is more important than the other. I think all 3 (artistry, passion, AND training) work together to create a great photographer.

  • Jeremy May 21, 2010 02:07 am

    Both passion and artistry and technique are important and they feed into each other. Good technique gives you the tools to express your art better and your passion drives you to learn better techniques. If I had to choose one of the two however I would vote for passion and artistry. My reason is personal as I have found that when I focus on technique I tend to practice by shooting a lot of the same kind of photo to refine it and I tend to lose some of the enjoyment of taking photos, even when I am pleased with my results. I sometimes miss the time when I barely new anything about thechnique and just used to get out of the house with my camera without a plan and see where my muse took me. Nowadays I often go out with my equipment knowing ahead of time what types of pictures I'm going to take and that is sometimes sad. When I started taking photos I started realising how differently I viewed the world and I think that now I need to focus more on my spontaneity rather than getting good long exposures or good shots for HDR, etc. Yes knowing the techniques will help me get the results I want while I'm being spontaneous, but I need to step back from pushing myself too hard. One other thing I noticed about myself is that when I am trying to improve my technique I look a lot at other photographers' work and try to imitate it, which I do not like. I know that looking at other people's work helps you to learn, but one must remember that when you first picked up a camera and went outside to try it out, and got that rush, it wasn't because now you can get the best ever sport shots, star trails, wedding pictures, HDR, etc. It was because you were given the keys to a new world and a vehicle (the camera) to explore it. A good photographer in the end is one who can use technique to express him/herself uniquely and send a good message in his own way in that one still image.

  • Scott Kemp May 21, 2010 02:01 am

    Yes and no. Knowing how to use the tools, both camera/light and post processing are essential. These areas are a very deep subject wherein the learning does not end. Post
    production is even
    deeper.
    Skills in both do not mean anything artful is created. Art is something else. It can happen with a iPhone. That would be somewhat fuzzy, but it could be art.

  • Carl Wagner May 21, 2010 01:58 am

    Neither. Sales trumps everything. How many of the old masters were there that died pennyless only to have their heirs become rich selling the same works? How many old masters were there that we will never know about because neither they nor their heirs knew how to sell?

    That said: To make a living you need skills. To make a name you need passion.

  • Karen May 21, 2010 01:56 am

    Most of the comments reply to a question not asked, ie., what's more important in creating great photographs. I particularly liked the first sentence of Sheri's comment: "Passion and artistry can be much more easily realized when backed by knowledge and skill."

    However, the question as posed asked what was more important in creating a photography business. And Jake is really the only one who answered THAT question: "From what I’ve experienced, business training and marketing skills are more important than photographic skill, passion or talent. Without the ability to successfully run a business, find clients, keep clients, and market yourself it doesn’t matter how good you are…no one will know or hire you."

    I know from watching my husband, a certain kind of artist, try to run his own business how true Jake's words are. Often, someone with an artistic personality does NOT also have what it takes to be a successful businessman. The artist must then force himself to learn and practice his BUSINESS skills--or partner with someone who can do that for him.

  • Eeps May 21, 2010 01:48 am

    I agree with D. Travis North. As important as training is, passion is what drives a person to take pictures in the first place. If you have no passion for what you are doing, how can you be expected to dedicate your training to excel in it.

    As for artistry, I would have to put that below training. While free expression (artistry) is important in photography, commercial photography (or any form of photography where you want others to view your work) is highly reliant on certain rules or norms (technique/training). These were developed based on what seems to appeal to most viewers. Knowledge of these widely accepted forms (training) is more important in growing oneself than just a basic understanding of what appeals to the individual taking the picture (artistry).

  • jason aldred May 21, 2010 01:47 am

    I've had no training and do by instinct most of the tips we get in the newsletters, i think my passion for nature & the pleasing results I get drive me on.

  • Frank Worth May 21, 2010 01:42 am

    Passion and technical ability are to things you must master to be a photographer. If you are just starting out there is a third step you must understand, and that is the ability to SEE SQUARE. 99% of your pictures will be done using the view finder, so always be looking and thinking SQUARE. If you do not have your camera with you at all times get a 3"x5" index card cut a 1"square in the middle of the card and use that as your view finder.This simple step will help your passion.

  • marc May 21, 2010 01:29 am

    skill + knowledge + passion = repeatable results. if you make "art" by accident, the beauty of modern cameras is that you can go back and understand the technical things you did to allow for the accident. Building on this knowledge will let you create "accidents" at will....

  • ricardo May 21, 2010 01:26 am

    Hi, My name is Ricardo Galvão from Brazil...

    I suppose that we need Passion to make Artistry, No Passion No Artistry.
    And going beyond, in order to reach some details, desire or aims in Artistry...we need knowledge...(schooling).

    So, we can not tear those things apart...
    Since the time of Descartes western men want to separate things ...
    We're not a clock ...
    we need to look holistically to life ...
    and try to extract from it all its beauty in pictures
    : D

    * sorry my bad english
    :D

  • SL May 21, 2010 01:15 am

    The question of Passion/Artistry over Schooling is, unfortunately, an oversimplification of the issue. Passion and Artistry are two separate issues, while Schooling is really about Technical Knowledge. I work as a photographer and a photo instructor, so I see lots of burgeoning photographers with Passion to spare but with little Artistry and no Technical Knowledge. Learning photography, either formally or autodidactically, should grow Passion, Artistry and Technical Knowledge together.

    To achieving success in the industry one must at least possess entry level of competencies in Passion, Artistry and Technical Knowledge but the most important factor is Business Savvy. Developing and maintaining your client base is the most important thing--if no one is paying you, then it's just a hobby.

  • Joe Roback May 21, 2010 01:13 am

    I think both are important, but I would to have to put them in order of importance it would be (1) Artistry, (2) Passion, and (3) Photography Training.

    It seems unless you are one of the best, the next best thing is to be a hot young women taking self portraits or know a lot of hot young women to take portraits of... at least that is what makes it to the top of flickr's explore everyday :p

  • David Patterson May 21, 2010 01:08 am

    You must have Passion and Desire to be better. In order to be better, you must learn skills old and new. In order to make yourself stand out from others you must provide new techniques to your customers. Just because you were formally educated years ago, doesn't mean that will carry you through years from now with out picking up new techniques. As a artist you should always be evolving and learning.

  • jeff May 21, 2010 12:59 am

    follow up

    I correct in saying that from a business standpoint, unless you're absolutely devoid of talent. Networking, marketing will be more important. In that perspective I have to agree with Jake. That will keep you going.

    But business success will certainly require all elements

  • Sarah Fowler May 21, 2010 12:57 am

    Passion is probably the most important, but you won't have [consistent] artistry without training. Whether you pay for the training, learn by trial and error, or memorize every photography book in the library, you'll never be a successful photographer without learning the technicalities.

    As an earlier commenter pointed out, you may take 20 shots on a nice DSLR and come up with one marketable photo, but if you know the ins and outs you can grab someone's P&S and take twenty marketable photos. Passion's not worth a thing if you don't use it to harness knowledge!

  • Michael May 21, 2010 12:56 am

    Passion is key to excelling in anything. Knowledge is also essential but there are many ways to get the knowledge. I take classes at local community colleges and have a mentor as well as others in the area that have much experience and are willing to work with less experienced people. I find the combination of practice, mentors, and some formal training to be a great combination.

    This to some degree depends on what your goals are. If you wish to do some type of commercial photography, school including business training is very important.

    If you are doing the photography exclusively as an art, the degree is less important, IMO. I have seen too many MFAs that are not good artists but are very good at presenting themselves as intellectuals with a social agenda. To me, that is not what the art is about.

  • Armando Vernaglia Jr May 21, 2010 12:55 am

    I think the role of passion is only to create enthusiasm for the person not to be discouraged when studying, training and getting tired for months or years before achieve a result.

    The passion by itself, without the attitude to move and improve, doesn't push anyone to anywhere.

    The romantic vision of a passion that moves the world is just that, a romantic vision.

    I do not agree with people who say that technique does not matter because if that were true the vast majority of those we believe as being genius would be nothing ... let's see a list of names, and think on what they had in technical knowledge in their respective areas: Mozart, Beethoven, Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Robert Doisneau, Philippe Halsman, Steve McCurry, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Pele .. the list is endless and proves the importance of technique, and therefore the training.

    Passion makes the photographer getting involved to train more, read more, shoot more. The artistry, if it indeed exists, can only be a facilitating factor, but there is no unique factor that determines whether someone will be a great photographer or not. You need everything, talent, passion, technique and training, hard training.

    And finally, let's not forget the importance of personal marketing since we're talking about photography industry and not only photography as a way of expression and art.

    Best regards,
    Armando Vernaglia Jr
    @VernagliaJr

  • irfan May 21, 2010 12:54 am

    I believe passion & artistry goes side by side with technical knowledge. Creating stunning images require more than what one learn from the book or training. Ideas, passion & creativity are the key and knowledge is there only as a tool to deliver that idea. However, an idea without a proper tool or a knowledge to utilise that tool would make it just stays in your head unproduced. A knowledge without an idea would probably produce uninspiring work.

    I support good education but I won't let it tell me to limit my creativity.

  • Prime May 21, 2010 12:53 am

    What a question!

    Passion, artistry & schooling - necessary components, but not the only things. Schooling might to master the tricks of the trade little faster. As for operating cameras, all you need is a working knowledge in English or what ever language the camera manual is written. However, it takes a little more to get good photographs. Artistry will show up in the photography. However, to make it big to the photography industry apart from the above three one has to have be hard working and perseverant.

  • D. Travis North May 21, 2010 12:51 am

    I don't know about artistry...but Passion is absolutely more essential than training. Passion pushes you to experiment and learn on your own. Maybe, perhaps, not as fast as one who's had training - but potentially better. Passion is a driving force. I also feel that it's an essential ingredient. Without passion, you have nothing. All the training in the world wouldn't amount to anything without passion.

  • scott May 21, 2010 12:49 am

    I don't have a single ounce of photography training, but I do know how to draw. I learned light and shadow from learning to draw form and give it depth. I also feel my knowledge of drawing anatomy gives me a huge leg-up on people trying to take pictures of people because I know how to pose them to show off their best features. In the end, the camera and strobes are just a means to the same end, and if you don't have any idea on how to add depth to a scene with light, you are not going to get many good images even if you know your camera like the back of your hand. If you doubt this, see my blog and judge my work.

  • jeff May 21, 2010 12:48 am

    I see people teaching photography showing pictures I would promptly have discarded. Technically perfect but "Oh so boring!" Can vision be thought. Recipes are great for reproducing, creativity (art) is not applying but inventing, revisiting, giving a new personal perspective.

    But it is also about repeatability. A one shot deal is luck, a conjunction of uncontrolled elements which did well (you did not, they did). Intent requires knowledge, control and repeatability. The technical aspects must be a mean to execute a vision, not a end in itself.

  • jerm May 21, 2010 12:43 am

    passion = motivation, motivation leads to learning, motivated learning eventually leads to proper artistry.

    i know you used passion and artistry as something almost interchangeable, but they seem to me like two separate ideas. I see passion as the most important, while artistry is something that is achieved as a result of motivated practice

  • Zeca Moraes May 21, 2010 12:43 am

    Yes and no. The word "art" is the latin for the greek "tékné", in the meaning that an art work must be also technically perfect to be considered artistically perfect. The greek word comprised both meanings, and only later they were splitted in "art" an "technique", as if these concepts were somehow opposed. It explains the question "art x technique": none of them are enough only by themselves, one must have the other to be complete.

  • Jaina May 21, 2010 12:38 am

    I see the value of both sides of the coin, but as a self taught web designer, sheer passion often pushes me to do better than if i had been traditionally schooled in it. I've learnt a lot more through trial and error than those who I know have been schooled.

    I know photography is different, there's a certain amount of technical stuff in it, however there are so many freely available resources available through the internet, those who are truly passionate and want to learn will find their way.

    Also i do think someone needs to have a certain artisitic sensibility to be able to compose and get the right shot. Luck does come into play too!

  • Joe The Flow May 21, 2010 12:31 am

    I've met people with with passion and artistry that shoot terrible pictures. I've met people with insane amounts of knowledge that shoot terrible pictures. But, the reverse is also true, although less often.

    I don't believe that one is 'more' important than the other but that you have a balance of the three. If I were to lean toward one side or the other I would say that I have seen the work of passionate, artistic individual who shoot way better than people with knowledge only.

    There has to be something within you that drives the what and the why. Without the passion the knowledge will more often fail.

  • Jake May 21, 2010 12:28 am

    From what I've experienced, business training and marketing skills are more important than photographic skill, passion or talent. Without the ability to successfully run a business, find clients, keep clients, and market yourself it doesn't matter how good you are...no one will know or hire you.

  • mrs.magoo May 21, 2010 12:26 am

    I suppose it depends - are you taking photographs to please yourself or to please others? Are you taking photographs to produce a product? Certainly you need *some* photography training in order to learn how to use your equipment as well as what "makes" a good photograph - but really photography is so subjective as an art form, it is hard to say...if YOU love it, than it is a great photo, really. Look at other art forms, such as painting...many great painters are and are still nay-sayed as being great artists.I do however think that no amount of training or schooling will afford someone the "eye" for photography - either you have that creativity or you don't - and if you do, there are ways to foster that creativity. Great question! I can't wait to see what others have to say!

  • Greg Taylor May 21, 2010 12:23 am

    That's a great question. Without passion there can't be any artistry.The lack of knowledge may/will lead to frustration which can diminish passion.

    Without acquiring knowledge you won't ever make a great photograph - that's a fact, but knowledge can be gained through working with others, trial and error and classes.

    I abide by the principles of know your equipment, know your settings, trust your instincts. (Two thirds knowledge / One third artistry I guess.)

    Also, I think if you are passionate you will want to acquire training.

    New Video Blog Post- FOCUS: God & Basketball

  • Idowu May 21, 2010 12:22 am

    Hi,

    schooling/Education can be likened to buying the latest high tech camera and shooting away till u get a decent shot. On the other hand, Passion/Artistry can be likened to capturing a great shot with a few clicks from simple P&S camera. Schooling can teach u to take a good shot, passion will teach u to take a thot provoking shot.

    Idowu Asumah
    Nikon D40, 18-200mm VR

  • My Camera World May 21, 2010 12:20 am

    This is a good question but not easy to answer and with many such questions it depends.

    For the most part it is true that passion is a key element but also more importantly the person needs to be able to connect with the business parts. Artistry is key when you are selling your 'brand' as the key element and even then is is more of a style because with the arts not every person gets an art piece.

    The photography industry is comprised of many sub components, from photography assistant, photo editor, photo-journalist, fine-arts, portraits photographer, commercial including studio and outdoor events. Each of these requires much more than just the technical skills in taking a good image. But technical competence is only the entry point. The person needs to understand the business part because in the end all business sells goods and services. There is the need to connect with the client because without them there are no sales.

    With passion there is a good chance that the rest will unfold eventually but in many of the niches people skills and the ability to really understand their needs, as opposed to what you think they need, will get you better jobs.

    Niels Henriksen

  • Gareth May 21, 2010 12:19 am

    It's a pretty subjective question and could be applied to many industries I suspect, although perhaps not the medical profession...

    I think the mix of these qualities is what will define each photographer. Passion and artistry for me is what creates a uniqueness, individual and personal experience of an image. The question perhaps should be, can you have one without the other? Would a lack of schooling result in the inability to communicate thoughts and ideas to end products?

    A lack of schooling would likely lead more towards experimentation, finding out what works and what doesn't and by design therefore a more creative process. The fundamentals must exist, but photography as an artform is as subjective as any other.

    So, I believe passion and artistry are more important but they must exist with schooling to become successful. That of course and extremely hard work and a little bit of luck!

  • Alex Moore May 21, 2010 12:17 am

    Artistry and passion are way more important. That's not to say that the technical isn't. One of my art professors says that a piece that is technically perfect earns your attention because everything looks intentional. How long that attention lasts is completely up to the artistry. So in other words if its purely technical, it will earn someone's attention but that attention may only last 15sec with out the artistry.

    ---Alex
    http:\\MooreALX.com

  • rkpowers May 21, 2010 12:16 am

    I think it's hard to put a definitive answer to this question. I had no formal photography schooling, but worked for years as an assistant to many great, some well-known, photographers. I gleaned the knowledge that they showed and formed it to my own style...or styles....(I'm not a niche photographer)
    I think training, knowledge, experience, can be built upon through 'doing it' whereas passion and artistry are more of an inner, personal conglomeration of experiences....f/8 is f/8, but how you use it is the key. Knowledge of what f/8 does CAN lead to a more artistic use.....I guess what I'm trying to say is that they go hand in hand. The more knowledge you have, the more you can stretch your capabilities, but knowledge alone means very little.... I feel that art can be created without schooling, but schooling alone does not create art. Put it this way...you can lock down your camera on f/5.6 at 125th and create tremendous work!
    As an old musician friend of mine used to say, "It's what the hell you do with what the hell you've got!"

  • Bárbara Herrnsdorf May 21, 2010 12:14 am

    In my opinion, I think the 'craft' or technical aspect of any art form is the means to the end. It is important in as much as it is the conduit for the artists message. If the medium that carries the message is weak, most times the message can become less potent or unclear. It does not matter what the art form is; it is still important to hone the technical part of that craft so that the passionate message you wish to convey can be the best it can be. I don't think you can replace one for the other, but both are necessary. I believe that it is very important to have passion, which will affect your 'eye' and what you wish to shoot, but if you have the strongest passions in the world but cannot manipulate your equipment to capture the images in the way you wish, where are you? On the converse, many people can learn how to take technically 'good' images but lack passion, message, and artistry so their images don't really 'speak' nor compel nor convey any message to the viewer at all - they are flat.

  • Florian May 21, 2010 12:13 am

    There is this saying:

    The result of creativity without strategy is being called art, creativity with strategy is called advertising.

    I think it depends on what u want to do with photography...

  • sheri neville May 21, 2010 12:12 am

    Passion and artistry can be much more easily realized when backed by knowledge and skill. Trial and error uses a great deal of time and engenders lots of frustration. Better to be able to know one's capabilities and the capabilities of the equipment so that time can be used to create and realize that inner vision, passion and artistry. Training is priceless when followed by a lifetime of practice.

  • Rick Robles May 21, 2010 12:12 am

    Well... Being a graphical designer that failed, and still do not know how I passed my photography classes (they were boring and I do not like building photography), I've never had any training on photography.

    I like whay I do and I publish only what I like. I'm neither the best, neither bad. I think that some pro training could help me with my photography, but, to me, it would take a lot of the fun of what I do.

    Both my parents are artists and a lot of what I use on my photographs come from what they've teached me and what I've seen; but since they do not like my kind of photography, I usually put more 'untrained' stuff in them that what it's supposed to be there.

    There are photography schools that I'm sure are very good (they tell me that here, in Morelia, México, there is a very good one) but both things are necesary to some degree... I incline myself more on the "passion and artistry" part of the balance than the "thechnique" one.

    P.S. In case somebody decides to visit my blog/page, it's in spanish.

  • ScrtSquirrel May 21, 2010 12:09 am

    I don't think they are more important than training, but do think they add an extra element to a photograph that can't be overlooked or ignored. One of the best photographer's I have ever seen is self taught and yet he is able to find something in his work that many with a photography degree will never find. He has a passion and love for the process and a sense of vision that adds a level of depth that lessons about composition won't ever give you.

  • Shannon May 21, 2010 12:08 am

    I hope so - I haven't done any photography training since Yr 12.

    That said, I would love to do some professional training. It can't hurt. Passion and artistry are fantastic and can get you there by themselves, but add training TO that and - wow.

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