Sunday, April 19, 2015

More on Photographic Education

I have a lot that I would like to write about today. For an under-educated old fart it should not be even debatable whether or not anything I write should ever appear in public. The answer is definitely, absolutely not! Never the less, I would like to write about a brief encounter with an amazing lady, one of the artists that displays her art at Aurora, at Open Studio last night and I may yet.

But instead I am going to write about my recent post where I quoted Henry Holmes Smith on the current state of photographic education. He mentioned that he thought that people all over the country were incapable (emphasis mine because I agree) of teaching what the students needed to know and instead were busily teaching things that the student doesn’t need to know (it would be understandable if Smith were being more inclusive but I assume he meant only photography).
Today, I received two new books; one by Jay Maisel and one by David duChemin. Of course I already knew duChemin’s thoughts on the current state of photographic education and have written about it before but I still would like to share his introduction to The Visual Toolbox, 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs. Which by the way would make a great self-taught course in photography. Hint, hint!
“If I were to begin a school of photography right now, I would send the geeks screaming for the hills. Or at least avoiding my school in droves. Every student would spend one year with one camera—a fully manual 35mm camera like the Pentax Spotmatic or he Canon AE-1. It would have one prime lens and a light meter. Students would be restricted to black and white film. And they’d be restricted from using anything digital except an iPhone. There’d be no magazines and no how-to-books. Students would spend a year making photographs, talking about them, studying the work of photographers—past and present—who had something to say, those who made their mark in some way. They’d study stories, and painting, and some art history beyond merely the annals of photographic history. For some people it would be a long, long year.”
I also know that duChemin, when he said "talking about them", didn't mean debating how well or how poorly they conformed to the conventional impediments which seems to be the only way that amateur photographers are capable of talking about photographs.
I would like to share two of his pull-quotes which is all I have really read so far:
"A photograph of a beautiful thing is not necessarily the same thing as a beautiful photograph." 
"We can be as paralyzed by unearned praise as we can by undeserved criticism."

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