article: creativity vs. experience

Last Wednesday, Vincent Versace published an absorbing article on Scott Kelby’s Guest Blog section. An excerpt from Versace’s upcoming book titled ‘From Oz to Kansas 2.0. Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man’, the article contains several hunks of wisdom, taking me on a train of thought about creativity vs. experience.

Fine art photographers are, for the most part, continually self-pressed to create photographs that are successful, aesthetically attractive, profound and emotionally moving. To do this, photographers need to firstly be inspired to take photographs, inspiration being the foundation of creativity. Inspiration however is a very fickle friend. It is the most elusive aspect of creativity as it doesn’t have a home. It does as it wishes, dropping into a poem, an overheard conversation, a dream, a view.

Our elusive muses can easily be driven out by our own voices of doubt: ‘I can’t do this, I don’t know enough.’  This is particularly understandable when it comes to photography. It seems we need to know all about sensors, lenses, software and all this technical stuff that can appear quite intimidating, easily stifling and suffocating inspiration. I feel fine art photographers sometimes lend too much important to experience, awareness of equipment and technical knowledge. Sure, a painter should know what effects his brush makes but this doesn’t mean a painter can’t make beautiful paintings if this knowledge is missing or developing, just as a photographer can instinctively take incredible shots without knowing his ISO from his elbow.

Having the creative sight to recognise a moment that matters and feel a compulsion to capture it is a far more significant aspect of a photographer than knowing whether you need a prime or telephoto lens. Experience does not necessarily signify awesomeness, it may simply mean a photographer has spent a great deal of time making rubbish photos and his vast technical knowledge is all but useless.

If you feel the magnificent weight of motivation to photograph, simply do so, and the rest will follow. You’ll come across the knowledge you need to develop, you will find inspiration. But along your journey of discovery don’t be afraid of making mistakes; as Vincent says:

”Emotionally full and technically imperfect trumps technically perfect and emotionally vacant every time.” Vincent Versace

2 comments

  1. thank you so much for restating that insight, as an amatuer photographer if i stopped taking (or never took) photos due to lack of experience and technical know how my portfolio would be empty

    • Thanks for your comment Greg; sometimes it can be difficult to keep our motivation up when we make mistakes, but knowing we can still create wonderful photographs lifts our spirits a little!

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