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Southside Johnny getting lost in it
Fuji X-E2 – 35mm at f 1/4, ISO3200

In his most recent blog post, Cole Thompson suggested how something is better accomplished by personal vision than technical expertise. This reminded me of a friend, who, when asked if her image was captured with digital or film, would reply, “do you like it?” Inevitably, the person would answer, “I love it.” She would then say, “great!” and never answer the question at all. Essentially she was saying: Does it matter? 

I think there is a difference.  My friend’s point was valid, film or digital?  Who cares? I agree. However, with Cole’s point, I agree in part.  Vision is indeed important and we should relentlessly pursue ours. But I feel the more we understand technique, be it in-camera or in post processing, the better equipped we are to be able to achieve our vision.  

Let me illustrate, if I did not understand the techniques needed for image overlay and texture work, I would never have been able to achieve my vision for the Disney picture I created a few posts back. 

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For me, vision and technique are intertwined.  In fact, I would suggest we need to understand technique so well that we are freed from its constraints and liberated to pursue our vision. Otherwise, we might be frustrated in not being able to fulfill our vision.  Another illustration. You see an image like the one below but don’t know how you might create something similar.  Frustration sets in and you move on to something else.  

However, if someone shares the technique, you now have the knowledge and can use it to achieve your vision.  The trick is: How do you take this new knowledge and create a vision of your own?

This is where your vision becomes so important.  Your objective is to take this knowledge and create something new.  Something like the Disney creation above. 

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When I’m asked, how did you do that?  I’m prone to share. I understand where Cole is coming from.  He is serious about encouraging folks to chase their vision without influence from others, and I am on board with that. However, I think people are at different places along the creative path.  Without a clear understanding of technique, I think it might be harder for some to achieve their vision.

“Develop an infallible technique, then put yourself at the mercy of inspiration.”   Zen maxim

“One is not really a photographer until preoccupation with learning has been outgrown and the camera in his hands is an extension of himself.  There is where creativity begins.” 

Carl Mydans (1907-2004) American photojournalist

“I see no reason for recording the obvious.” Edward Weston, photographer 

Your thoughts?

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Fuji X-E2 – 35mm f/1.4, ISO 2000

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