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Thread: Training vs Gear vs Natural Talent

  1. #1
    Member BecdS's Avatar
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    Training vs Gear vs Natural Talent

    How much of creating good images do you think relies on training (ie courses and lessons), how much on gear, how much on good luck (right place, right time), how much on pure born talent, and how much on just slugging it out and practicing by yourself?

    I've been taking photographs for quite a few years and yet I don't feel like I've advanced at all. I got so disheartened a while back that I pretty much stopped completely. After finding this forum, I've picked up the camera again, but I don't want to keep flogging the same old dead horse. I know that good pictures don't come completely from the equipment, but I don't really know what to focus on. Should I go to TAFE? Should I just keep doing what I've been doing and with practice, my images will simply improve? Or, is a lot of it down to natural talent? How much of the composition and scene spotting stuff can be learnt? Where does a beginner start?


    I very much welcome and appreciate your feedback and constructive criticism!

    If you would like to edit any image I post here, please feel free to do so! I would love to see what you can come up with and learn your method.

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    All of the above in infinitely varying cominations
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    Find one thing you like taking photos of, you have to enjoy the actual experience if taking photo and focus myopically on that until you are good at it....if you fail then you have to ask....why....

    We are here to help, use AP as the resource

    But not everyone is cut out to be an artist, and some are better at being a technical shooter.
    Darren
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    can't remember
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    OK, I'll bite.
    • training (courses and lessons) - varies: zero to 50%, mostly quite close to zero 'cause if you have ability and sticktoitiveness, you will learn things for yourself - and if you don't you won't be any damn good anyway. Mostly, formal training just helps you learn the same stuff you would have learned anyway, only faster. Sometimes it gets in the way of talent. Mostly, it's harmless and often quite helpful.
    • gear - 10%, can be a bit more for certain specialties, less than that for others (assuming a certain minimum standard, that is - you can't shoot weddings with a P&S!)
    • good luck (right place, right time) - zero. Good luck is what happens to people who spend time out in the field trying to make great photographs. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Good photographers get incredibly lucky shots time and time again - 'cause it ain't luck, it's skill and sticktoitiveness.
    • pure born talent - you have to have an eye for it, sure, just as you need an ear for music if you want to be a pianist, but I wouldn't like to say how much of a factor that is. Well, let's say 25%, just to pluck a number out of the air.
    • just slugging it out and practicing by yourself? 60%
    • adding up percentages to see if they make 100. Sorry, not part of my skill set!
    Tony

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    Training = 5% in your formula

    Couldnt agree more with your assessment Tony

    If you dont have the inate ability to progress by practice then failure is likely.

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    Also try working through the "New to Photography" exercises on this forum.
    Cheers
    Darey

    Nikon user, Thick skinned and wanting to improve, genuine C & C welcomed.

    Photographs don't lie ! - Anonymous Liar

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    I dont think you need formal training to be a good photographer. Anything you can learn in a course, you can learn yourself by reading, watching, asking questions and yes I think PRACTICING is one of the most important things you can do whether your a photographer or a musician. But I also think you need to have some natural talent, an eye for it if you will. A great photographer can take a great photo with a camera phone so I dont think gear is a HUGE thing, but its certainly good to have.

    If I were to do percentages I would go

    Formal Training 0%
    Gear 10%
    Practice 80%
    Talent 10%
    Cheers
    Emma

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  8. #8
    For the love of what I see.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Find one thing you like taking photos of, you have to enjoy the actual experience if taking photo and focus myopically on that until you are good at it....if you fail then you have to ask....why....

    But not everyone is cut out to be an artist, and some are better at being a technical shooter.
    Totally agree.

    But then, how do you measure success? I look now at images I took four years ago and think they are crap despite others saying that they are good. I have never won a competition or award but I look at the results that I now get and they are so much better and my keeper rate is so much higher. Along with that I have met some really great people from this forum who have willingly and freely given me advice and guidance that I have used and it has improved me greatly. Also they have introduced me to a greater variety of genres.

    My take.
    Desire = 50%
    Talent = 10%
    Gear = 40% (it makes it so much easier)
    Practicing the art = Never ending.
    Peter.

    Some of my photo's are at www.peterking.id.au

  9. #9
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    All of the above and none of the above. Some of the finest photographers ever, have never done any formal training. Others have done more training than probably a dozen AP members combined.

    It really is up to you, and each person learns differently. Some learn from books, others learn better watching video instructions (youtube etc). Yet again other learn by hands on watching and then doing, with a mentor. You need to understand yourself and what modalities of learning your brain is best suited to, then go with that. There is no 'one approach suits all'.

    Work out how you learn, then embrace a learning plan using that structure, devices, etc.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Ausphotography Regular Tommo1965's Avatar
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    ive a couple of projects in my head at the moment..that I cant do due to gear limitations..so gear does play a vital role....although that by itself wont get great shots for you

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    Thank you for making this post this is what I wanted to know as well and started to type it out a few times but did not know how to really ask the right way of getting the right answers so now this has helped you it has helped me as well. Thank you for making this post. And thank you to all those that replied sometimes it comes down to the right question to ask the right way and I am sure it will help a lot of others that wanted to know the same thing. I also did not know what type of photography I wanted to do but I new what I liked and went with that tried a few things and still do but as I love been in the country by myself with only the sounds and smells of nature I decided for me I think Ill give landscapes and country sceans a try well once when my arm gets better. I also figured out how I learnt like Rick said find out how you learn that was one of the first things I did and then went on to that so I am very happy that you made this post thanks again
    All experts were once beginners

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  12. #12
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    best answer - it differs for each individual.
    personally
    zero formal training : 100% on the job training + self research + participation in forums like this
    gear plays a part but only if you find that the technical limitations of the gear are stopping your progress
    natural talent ....hard to quantify this at the best of times

    my approach has been to look at the BEST images of scenes that I want to shoot, ask questions of the photographer, then go out and try to replicate that same style ; and by approaching photographers of different styles and genres in that way, you end up developing your own.

    good luck! we can't really tell you what's going to work best for you - unfortunately, you'll have to work that out for yourself based on the sum of your own expectations and advice you're getting here.
    Call me Dylan! www.everlookphotography.com | www.everlookphotography.wordpress.com | www.flickr.com/photos/dmtoh
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  13. #13
    Sunrise Chaser
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    Me, Same as Dylan, Zero formal training , To some "seeing" comes easier than others

    I tend to see the shot in my head first , As has been said before, the gear can help in certain situations , But learn to use what you have at present , Get out there and practice , I think there is enough info on this site to answer all your questions about learning Photography
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




  14. #14
    Antipod
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    Good luck has little to do with it. Sure, anyone can take a picture that looks good "by accident", but that's not photography.

    Training? Training what? The technical issues for some pose a huge hurdle and training may ease taking that hurdle. To others, technical training is hardly needed. The same can be said for "photography training". Some "see" things (let's call it 'talent'), some need guidelines to sharpen that talent and others... may never have it.

    Personally, I find the path that someone takes in order to become a "good photographer" (whatever that may be) much more interesting than most of the end-results. In our photoclub, we have people that asked for months and months of technical training but shot interesting stuff from day 1 and we also have clubmembers that can easily explain every little technical detail from their equipment but up to this day just produce dull and uninspiring pictures.

    So, in the end, there's no single formula that defines how much of each of the components mentioned add to a picture.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

  15. #15
    Other side of the hill ... WhoDo's Avatar
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    Not much I can add to all that's gone before except to ask a single question: Who are you taking photographs for? I think that question is central to appraising the results you get.

    If you are taking photographs that you want others to find aesthetically pleasing (extrovert), then you need to investigate what those "others" like. Landscapes are exceedingly popular subjects with a great number of viewers, but that makes standing out a whole lot harder to achieve.

    If you are taking photographs to please your own aesthetic sense (introvert), then only you can tell when you've found what you're looking for. It won't matter how you got there the first time; only that your remembered how and can do it again whenever you like.

    The best training you can get is to use your eyes and ears. Read the advice on AP and in the tutorials. Go on some shoots with local members and listen to what they say about what they are doing and why. That will get you over any technical hurdles much quicker than a course or formal study. When you're over that first hurdle, there is nothing to do but be patient, take pictures and look for any little improvement you can make. Quality is more often the sum of lots of little improvements than some single great leap of inspiration.

    I hope that helps.
    Last edited by WhoDo; 16-07-2011 at 8:10am.
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    My Flickr images ...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BecdS View Post
    How much of creating good images do you think relies on training (ie courses and lessons), how much on gear, how much on good luck (right place, right time), how much on pure born talent, and how much on just slugging it out and practicing by yourself?

    I've been taking photographs for quite a few years and yet I don't feel like I've advanced at all. I got so disheartened a while back that I pretty much stopped completely. After finding this forum, I've picked up the camera again, but I don't want to keep flogging the same old dead horse. I know that good pictures don't come completely from the equipment, but I don't really know what to focus on. Should I go to TAFE? Should I just keep doing what I've been doing and with practice, my images will simply improve? Or, is a lot of it down to natural talent? How much of the composition and scene spotting stuff can be learnt? Where does a beginner start?
    It sounds like you have a casual interest in photography rather than a passion for it, or any specific photographic aspect. You sound kind of all over the place and lost. Decide what you want first and then figure out the best way to do it.

    JJ

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    Sticktoitiveness is the best word to use.

    Go out in the field and have a go, learn from those that have mastered what you've attempted, read step by step articles in AP/ photographic mags on taking images as well as PP.

    Be pepared for CC on AP, that will play a large part on how you conduct your work in the future . Learning through other peoples eyes will amplify your ability to learn from each scenario.

    Practice makes perfect, use it or lose it, this all equals sticktoitiveness. ( nice word Tannin)
    Last edited by Ozspeed; 16-07-2011 at 10:17am.
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  18. #18
    Ausphotography Regular Allie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoDo View Post
    Not much I can add to all that's gone before except to ask a single question: Who are you taking photographs for? I think that question is central to appraising the results you get.

    If you are taking photographs that you want others to find aesthetically pleasing (extrovert), then you need to investigate what those "others" like. Landscapes are exceedingly popular subjects with a great number of viewers, but that makes standing out a whole lot harder to achieve.

    If you are taking photographs to please your own aesthetic sense (introvert), then only you can tell when you've found what you're looking for. It won't matter how you got there the first time; only that your remembered how and can do it again whenever you like.

    The best training you can get is to use your eyes and ears. Read the advice on AP and in the tutorials. Go on some shoots with local members and listen to what they say about what they are doing and why. That will get you over any technical hurdles much quicker than a course or formal study. When you're over that first hurdle, there is nothing to do but be patient, take pictures and look for any little improvement you can make. Quality is more often the sum of lots of little improvements than some single great leap of inspiration.

    I hope that helps.
    This to me is a wonderful and very helpful post, thank you.

    One of my bosses did a 12 month TAFE course on photography, bought the "correct lenses", attended the practical outings and he says that while he has learnt all the technical how-to's he just can't convert it into the results that get the OOh AAhs from other people. In fact, for him doing the course has meant that he has given up photography totally as he sees being unable to convert the knowledge equating to failure.

    For me, while I still don't want to embarrass myself, I want to create photos for myself. I am (slowly) working my way through the exercises here, looking at Pioneer Woman's websites photography section where the effect of using different camera settings are shown in photos (which I find very helpful) and organising to go to some places to get better opportunities to take the photos I like to see.

    Good luck in finding what you want out of your photography.
    Last edited by Allie; 17-07-2011 at 5:29pm.

  19. #19
    It's all about the Light!
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    Light > Photographer > Gear
    (in varying proportions).
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



  20. #20
    Other side of the hill ... WhoDo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allie View Post
    One of my bosses did a 12 month TAFE course on photography, bought the "correct lenses", attended the practical outings and he says that while he has learnt all the technical how-to's he just can't convert it into the results that get the OOh AAhs from other people. In fact, for him doing the course has meant that he has given up photography totally as he sees being unable to convert the knowledge equating to failure.
    I can understand that. Hopefully he will get enthused again and, this time, concentrate more on the subject and less on the technical aspects. It's much easier to improve technically if you know what you want your photos to show aesthetically. Don't forget to let your fellow AP members help you in your quest to improve, Allie.

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