I am in the process of reading David duChemin’s book Within the Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision. Refreshingly, this book is neither about mastering photographic technique nor photo processing software. Rather, this book is about creating and executing your photographic vision. Early in the book is a discussion of two opposing forces for the photographer: the Artist and the Geek.
You probably know these two personalities. The geek who concentrates on the gear and technique – both in the camera and in post processing. The artist who brings creativity and uniqueness of vision. The point of David’s writing to that we need to find the balance. It is the harmony of the two that provides us our best images.
This line of thinking leads me to two questions worthy of evaluation:
- What can we learn from the masters about how they keep the balance?
I’m not a great photography historian, but I think I can somewhat compare the process of Ansel Adams with that of Henri Cartier-Bresson. By all accounts, both of these photographers were masters of their art. There is no denying that Adams had his technical skills honed to great advantage. Cartier-Bresson, I am lead to understand, was not interested in the process of photography, only the process of capturing an instant drawing.
- Who am I?
Which of these two personalities do I most often bring to the party and what happens when one or the other fails me?
How I choose to study and practice my craft based on the pushes and pulls of these different sides will surely shape my photography. Do I contain the artist, bringing it back on the path after a little too much experimentation? Do I disdain the technician and the possibility of cold, unfeeling, yet perfectly correct, imagery. This defines my own personal photographic journey. Is it a peaceful co-existence or a battle of wills?