The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

Started Jul 19, 2007 | Discussions
Chuck Gardner Forum Pro • Posts: 10,381
The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

My good friend and jousting partner Doug MacMillan recently posted this thought provoking excerpt from the National Geographic Web site FAQ for how to become and NGS caliber photographer:

"Q: Any advice for a photographer wanting to enter the profession?

A: Desire and drive count, but professional photography is a competitive business, and for every successful photographer there are dozens looking for work. Training can only help to fine-tune a natural “eye,” and although a prospective photographer may have a true passion for the art and craft, if he lacks that eye no amount of training or desire can compensate. Many people must be content to be advanced amateurs rather than professionals. "

Being the logical type I find the NGS answer rather nebulous because it provides no solid clues to what that mystical natural "eye" is, or how you'd know if you have one. But it seems crystal clear that the folks in the ivory tower on 17th Street think its something one is born with.

But then there are other Q&As about visual aesthetics and developing a style which mention using color and composition in a unique manner and being aware of the literal nature of your images and strive to go beyond them in an aesthetic sense which sound more like things aquired by training and experience.

So it begs the question what exactly the "eye" thing really is and how it can be defined? I figured the best place to ask is here, where several non-photo posting pundits regularly beat the "eye" drum loudly with the implication that they've got it but most of us lesser mortals don't. But since they don't post their work we can't see what "it" is. A bit of a Catch-22 and a bit ironic since the more literal definition of "artist" is a person who displays their work.

I'd encourage you to read the entire page to get the full context of that single QandA before responding here if so inclined: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/qanda/index.html

So five simple questions:

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have. In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of their work?

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

This might seem like a troll but its not. One of the things I genuinely like about Doug is that he provokes thought. Raising the rather open ended and debatable topic of the "eye" provides a good catalyst for exploring the topic.

CG

lowfreq Contributing Member • Posts: 743
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

Chuck you either have the 'eye' or you don't.. it's really that simple. And it's not mystical. You can nourish it by just letting go and letting an idea come to you first as opposed to having a fixed set of ideas about composition, lightning, etc. Let go of ideas and conceptions about what is right or wrong in photography and then you'll start to develop from within. That's the best answer I can give you.

OP Chuck Gardner Forum Pro • Posts: 10,381
Please answer the question or don't bother...

If you are not going to answer the questions as asked please just skip this thread.

CG

Kent Johnson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,354
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

I have a pretty strong "opinion" about this being a former professional musician. It's a lot more obvious in that setting whether of not someone has "talent".

So five simple questions:

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

None. It is totally subjective. Totally. The smart photographer picks his/her audience. Period. The universality of anything "good" is extremely dubious at best, downright hostile at worst. Here's some flame bait... Pick any photographer that is considered good. Any. You will quickly notice that all of their images look the same. This is not "their style" so much as they found a combo that works for their audience.
The most successful photographers are pedantic.

This gets exacerbated by the other fact that smart photographers figure out where the money is - teaching - and then go about making sure nobody else can get some of that pot by forming clubs (Hint: Amherst Media) where they do nothing more than create vehicles for pumping each other up, providing valuable information being completely secondary and incidental.

I'm being a bit harsh so I'll relent slightly. There are some great photographers out there who can scope a scene anywhere in the world be it natural, mountainous, urban, dark, light, indoor. They can do this very quickly from several dozen standpoints and make something good happen. It takes a lot of work and preparation before any creativity is applied to the equation. The other things that separates good from bad in my mind is enjoyment which we haven't talked about. The truly great ones love to share, even if they're not getting paid. They just love it. That infectious sense tends to be viral and makes for better photographs of people anyway.

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

No and yes. Having been trained in visual arts and having done a lot of painting I was forced to understand composition and internalize it at an early age. It can be broken down technically but I really just eyeball it. People are sometimes amazed but what they don't realize is how much more quickly a child can learn than an adult. I probably made several thousand drawings, with constant feedback from my drawing siblings, before I was a teenager and lost control of my mind That said, I had no problem understanding it at age 5 whereas many struggle with basic concepts their whole life. Is that talent? I still haven't figured out the answer.
So was I well trained or do I have talent? Hard to say.

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

Drawing as a child.

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

I would argue that it has waned. I spent a lot of energy learning to hide my "talent" because I resisted being labelled. If you are good at something at brings out the worst in everyone around you, unfortunately. It reaches its zenith among artists. I guess it depends on your personality, though. Many thrive on it.

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

50/50. I hadn't written a piece of music in 14 years but I sat down last month and wrote some of the best stuff I had ever done, partially because no one expected me to. It's the same with my photography. I can't stop thinking about it even if I want to. It's a mind set and a way of life. It lives in your subconscious . It's hard for most adults to tap into that. We're trained not to.

This might seem like a troll but its not. One of the things I
genuinely like about Doug is that he provokes thought. Raising the
rather open ended and debatable topic of the "eye" provides a good
catalyst for exploring the topic.

I'm looking forward to other answers.

lowfreq Contributing Member • Posts: 743
Re: Please answer the question or don't bother...

i did answer the question(s) but gave the short version.. i'll have to think about each question later.. sorry for messing up ur thread.

jizzer Senior Member • Posts: 1,750
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

I think it's actually very easy to understand what is meant by the "eye", and then that offers clues on how to get it.

Quite simply, the "eye" is the ability to tell when something is good just by looking at it.

When I was taught as an artist to "use my eye", it meant to have the ability to step back to the point of an emotionally detached viewer, and determine whether it was good from that perspective.

One person may love one painting. Another person may love another. But with regards to the "eye", I think there is a built-in assumption that to have it, one must be able to make a MAJORITY of people love his painting.

So technically, if one was able to identify which works of art, pieces of music, photographs etc. - will be positively recieved by the majority of the public - I would say that person has "the eye".

(A great example of someone with the "eye" but no other musical talent at all would be Puff Daddy.)

Personally, I believe almost anyone who wants it ALREADY has the "eye". All they have to do is be brutally honest when they compare their work to what else is out there for consumption. That does not mean that a person that knows what is good can learn to do it themselves, but I think we all would agree that without the ability to discern what "good" is, one would only accidentally achieve it.

Chuck Gardner wrote:

So it begs the question what exactly the "eye" thing really is and
how it can be defined? I figured the best place to ask is here,
where several non-photo posting pundits regularly beat the "eye" drum
loudly with the implication that they've got it but most of us lesser
mortals don't. But since they don't post their work we can't see
what "it" is. A bit of a Catch-22 and a bit ironic since the more
literal definition of "artist" is a person who displays their work.

See Chuck, the answer is right there with the question! You want to see their work because "just seeing it" you will be able to tell whether it's good or not, and only when something is judged by the public can anyone tell if these people have the "eye" or not!

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

The majority of their work would be positively recieved by the majority of the unbiased public.

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

No, not a "natural" eye, but it took 5 minutes for someone to teach me how to use mine, so now I have "the eye" and that's good enough for me.:-)

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

A guy literally told me to step back from my work, squint my eyes at it, look at it from all perspectives, scrutinize it to what's out there - and see if it still works. If it don't, change it until it does.

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

Personally, I do it by technically identifying all the things that make something "successful", and then I set about putting it all together. Even though the "eye" is easily accessed using your instincts, getting your own work to that high level has, in my experience, proved to be a great challenge. And it makes sense that things the public would find the most extraordinary, are also the hardest to achieve! I rarely see successful artist that truly are their by accident or luck.

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

I hate to say this (I really do), but it's undeniable that people reach these maturities at different ages. Often the superstars are people that, for whatever reason, have put all the pieces together at a very young age. I wish I was one of them, but for me it's been a longer road - and that's based (I believe) on my own blind-spots to what the real goal is.

Having the "eye" is really just being an accurate critic. But many people can do that. I take pride as an artist because I challenge myself to win over my critics. I think many people fail at art imho because they act like they shouldn't be criticized for anything. But an artist with the "eye" has already anticipated every criticism, and they can consistently present work that meets with positive reaction.

AperturePro Veteran Member • Posts: 4,221
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

Concentration on the job is an noticeable mark of skill whilst shooting.
Balance in the print or a statement that reaches your inner self would
be the tell in a print and pro with a good eye. Not necessarily 'pleasing'
but more about reach.

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

Yeah, sure after developing it. Like the quote, overnight success after twenty years in the field. A newbie may take 20K actual keepers before they realize they are just touching on "eye" but may have bragged throughout the 20K takes how good they are. Once they make the break and get in the zone, then you start having real results.

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

Like any sport, you know by the instant you get in the zone. Heart rate
may increase, a certain zen detachment, a letting go or just that warm
feeling that you know a capture was good.

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

Keep it up, same as any other endeavor. What sport doesn't spend time
in training camp?

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

"Formal training" only goes so far. That is why there are many in workshops
and few leading them. Most "eye" training come in dreams and meditation.

jizzer Senior Member • Posts: 1,750
Right on Kent.

I loved your answer, cynical as it may seem:-) I like the way you think alot. I'm also I life-long musician, and like you, an artist probably on many levels that people around us don't get. I could really relate to much you said. There is a driving passion for all things, and while it helps you as an artist, it goes other places too, sometimes places unexpected. Again, as George Clinton said "the Funk is it's own reward".

Kent Johnson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,354
Back at you - excellent answer

I love threads like this. I learn something. Watch, though. There will come a whole raft of people who are pi$$ed just beacuse Chuck asked a question that can't be answered with one sentence containing Neanderthal grunts.
-Kent

OP Chuck Gardner Forum Pro • Posts: 10,381
This thread is going to be very interesting.....

Wow! Just the few responses so far are way beyond my expectation. Thanks to all who have and will respond for taking it seriously, especially to you Kent who set the bar with your thoughtfulness and introspective answers.

I found your music analogy very interesting because I am married to a woman who struggles to sight read sheet music, yet can play anything she hears by ear. Oh, you need to sing that in D-flat? No problem, she can transpose key on the fly without even thinking about it. Same on the guitar. Her technical skills are not well developed because she never practices, only playing when the spirit moves her. Interestingly though, despite her seemingly effortless mastery of the instruments and joy for music - she also has a wonderful and powerful voice - she has never shown any interest in composing her own music as a form of self-expression.

You also hit the nail squarely on the head when you said that it is much easier to separate real natural talent in the music world than photography. But in music there is probably a similar paradox between someone who is classically trained by rote until their technique gets out of the way and they can begin to feel and nuance the message in the music and someone like my wife who has always done it by feel alone. Given enough time they may both reach the same place.

Thanks for contributing

CG

Simon Stanmore Senior Member • Posts: 1,264
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

Chuck Gardner wrote:

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.

He/she is able to consistently create strong images by relying on instinct over acquired knowledge. Upon learning technique he/she instinctively knows how to use it to maximise its impact/effect and when to leave it well alone. He/she also knows instinctively when no strong image is attainable in a given situation and accordingly 'walks away'.

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

Yes (that sounds arrogant!).

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

With drawing and painting when I was very young, probably 6 or 7. This was from other people telling me than a self-awareness at that age. With photography, after viewing the developed roll of film I first took in my late 20's. As a child and through my teens I refused to use a camera as I was convinced they had nothing to do with (what I then dubbed) art.

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

It doesn't develop. An awareness of ongoing visial trends and a broadening of largely self developed technique is what develops.

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

No formal training but a almost constant analysis of contemporary photography and usually several hours a week devoted to the development of new/better homegrown techniques. All this does not develop the 'eye' - It just gives it more to use
--
Simon
http://www.simonstanmore.com/weblog.htm

kelstertx Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
My eye, so far

jizzer wrote:

Personally, I believe almost anyone who wants it ALREADY has the
"eye". All they have to do is be brutally honest when they compare
their work to what else is out there for consumption. That does not
mean that a person that knows what is good can learn to do it
themselves, but I think we all would agree that without the ability
to discern what "good" is, one would only accidentally achieve it.

That's me. I think I have a decent eye when it comes to looking at other people's work, but when I walk onto a scene I want to capture, I don't usually "see" how to find those great shots / angles, etc. My style of composing tends to be rather "touristy" -- just stand and shoot a centered subject like a tourist. That's why I like sunsets and scenics. The subject itself is usually striking enough to stand on its own without needing clever composing or cropping.

I'm hoping that as I look at galleries online and learn what I like most, that my style will become easier to recognize out in the field when it's live. If it never happens, I'm ok with just being a guy that can take consistently decent pictures of vacations and family events because he knows more about how to use his camera(s) than the average Joe. Even that part is already fun, like at graduation ceremonies when I get decent shots while all the soccer moms around me are getting all-black frames and cursing their little P&S cams under their breath. Just the fact that mine are usable makes me a hero to the rest of the family. The rest is icing.

I don't think it's hopeless though. I get little successes that encourage me. Like last year on the cruise, lots of people were lined up along the side of the ship getting sunset shots. I got some of those too (and they make good desktop background pics), but I recognized at the time that a sunset didn't really capture the mood of being on the boat seeing the sunset, so I wanted a shot of the people silhouetted against the sunset. I was the only one that broke away from the rail to get something "different", and the results made my cruise gallery better.

Good:

Better:

Looking the other way, where nobody else was:

Not perfect pics, but gives a better feel of being there than just one sunset snap.

-Kelly

 kelstertx's gear list:kelstertx's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6 R Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS +4 more
Darrell Spreen Forum Pro • Posts: 10,560
Some thoughts

I suggest that "the eye" is not so much a talent for seeing what's in front of you, but a set of glasses (rose-colored?) that lets you see things through your "style", which is learned and developed. I think the two are inextricably intertwined. This is presumably the same style that others see in your photographs, but maybe not.

We all know that two photographers can stand near each other looking at a scene and one will walk away with a snapshot and the other will end up with a masterpiece. And we often hear it said about the latter, "what an eye!". The difference might have been that one photographer got down on his/her hands and knees or waited for the sun to go partly behind a cloud. The point is that they both saw the same scene, but the image was different in their mind's eye. Often it boils down simply to a little extra effort, but the idea that a better picture exists has to come from inside. And I think that's a result of acquiring a style.

When I was first learning photography, I found it amazing that I saw interesting photographs everywhere (often without a camera at hand) and I think I even learned to see in black and white when required. I feel that I have lost that after putting photography aside for so many years (career demands).

I've found digital photography a real blessing in rebuilding my technical proficiency, but I don't see the emotive element in my photograpy that I used to have, and I've also noticed that I can't point to any style in my photos anymore -- I think I've lost my "eye".

Darrell

http://members.aol.com/pixbydg/visit/France.html

OP Chuck Gardner Forum Pro • Posts: 10,381
Please - Follow the format.... It's that way for a reason...

Please follow the format of answering each question individually.

They are designed that way, like any survey, so that it is easier compare answers. which is the point of the exercise...

Thanks
CG

Jim Salvas
Jim Salvas Veteran Member • Posts: 5,670
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

Chuck - Good questions. I've thought about most of them from time to time during my 55+ years of trying to master this craft. Answering all of them would require a lengthy essay, so I'll confine my response to the first set of questions.

'1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have. In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of their work?'

To me, the essence of the photographic process is the photographer communicating with the viewer, saying, in effect, "this is what I saw and how I want you to see it." Thus, the person with a "natural eye" is one who can recognize something visual worth communicating and can recreate that in a photographic representation.

This can sometimes be seen among rank beginners. They may not have technique, but they seem to be able to recognize good subjects and know how to shoot them.

An example: Years ago, I gave my grandaughter, then about 5 years old, a point-and-shoot camera to play with out in our yard. I thought it was empty, but found out when she reached the end of the roll that it had been loaded. I developed the film.

The results were a revelation to me, and not simply because of grandfatherly pride. This child had been going around the yard on her own, taking photos of her sister, me, bushes, flowers and everything else. In some 30+ pics, you could see her adjusting from frame to frame. There was one clump of feathery grasses which seemed to fascinate her. She first shot it from a little too far away. Then moved in and cropped to fill the frame. Then, she moved around if and took a fantastic photo of it backlit by the sun.

Other good shots included one of my shoes (enormous to her, I'm sure), of her sister's bike (which I'm sure she wanted to ride) and of her mother sitting on the steps..

She was simply doing what we all should be doing. I'm not sure she understood it, but she was finding things worth seeing and capturing their images to save for herself or to show to someone else.

She is now 19 and still has that "eye." Locked in a featureless room, she'd likely find some dust worthy of a photo. The main difference is that she now has a lot more technical expertise and communicates like an adult (no more tremendous photos of her granddad's huge shoes!).

Getting back to the question, my answer about being able to tell if someone has a "natural eye" is to ask if they are naturally communicating with their photographs. Are they showing me what they wanted me to see? Is it worth seeing?
--
Jim

 Jim Salvas's gear list:Jim Salvas's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PM2 Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN-F Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6 R +11 more
TDong Senior Member • Posts: 1,786
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

So five simple questions:

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

I think we all born with nothing in our mind, experience,training and make choices are what making us evolve to produce/create something new. The ability to want more and be better is what people called "natural eye"

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

with my definition of "natural eye" the answer would be yes

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

when I got awarded for being a good boy hehehe

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

when I look through the view finder I asked myself is that what I have in my mind if not how would I try to imagine it otherwise. Put someone else in my position if someone took that picture would I see what they see or do I see it differently

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

totally

This might seem like a troll but its not. One of the things I
genuinely like about Doug is that he provokes thought. Raising the
rather open ended and debatable topic of the "eye" provides a good
catalyst for exploring the topic.

CG

dborros Regular Member • Posts: 287
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

Well Chuck, I want to start with a thanks for making me think. This is a good theme. So here is my shot at the “answers”.

1)What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have. In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of their work?

I believe that a “natural eye” is one which can take in all of the information in front of it process it and say WOW I like this small part of that scene, what a cool picture that will make. Many here have related it to art in one form or another. Let me relate it to sports. I love hockey. Wayne Gretzke had the ability to “see” the ice better than any other player of his time. He could make plays that other “professional” players only dreamed of. Wayne had a “natural hockey eye”. I think “the eye” is more related to a persons thought process and how their brain is wired. Since the brain is capable of learning you will be able to learn portions of what it takes to have an “eye” but not necessarily be able to produce a “natural eye” on the level of someone who is born with the capability to have a “natural eye”.

2)Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

The fact that I hang around these forums trying to learn how to take better portraits and pictures in general tells me I don’t have a “natural eye”. I post far fewer pictures than I look at! I am trying to develop an “eye” for it though.

3)When and how did you realize you had it?

I haven’t found it completely yet, but I am getting better.

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

I think with experience, books, practice, and patience my “eye” has gotten better. I now “see” pictures more quickly than before and I am willing to look at things differently than before which helps significantly.

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

I think for the person without a “natural eye” this is the only way to develop an “eye” at all. This is how I have done it.

Thanks again for the thought provoking questions.

Doug

photolando Veteran Member • Posts: 3,206
Re: The 'eye' thing - What is it? Do you have it? How did you get it?

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

Not sure I really believe anyone has a "natural ability" to do anything. I think some things come easier to some and not others. Some people realize this early on. Others never do. For instance, if Tiger Woods was a "natural" why does he still practice for hours day in and day out? If it really came natural, he'd only have to swing and every shot would be perfect. We know this not to be true since not every shot he makes is perfect. Same thing with photographers. Even those who shoot for Nat. Geo. How many shots do they take on assignment? How many are used? Very few.

And this "eye" thing is not universal. My way of seeing things is different than yours. Even if we're shooting the same thing. I may shoot it one way, You another and both can be very good shots. But even "good: is subjective. I may say it looks good but you may think they both suck.

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"? Covered that above.

3) When and how did you realize you had it? After years of school, many workshops and studying others work and assisting a lot of people I finally realized I had this "natural eye?"

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured? I keep taking workshops and keep trying and learning new things.

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal

training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition? All of it. I don't know anyone who is really "self-taught" Even if no real person taught you directly, chances are your read about it in a book or magazine (or Forum) that some real person did write. There really is nothing new under the sun. Most photographic styles and techniques are more or less taught than discovered. My own personal style is a result of the all the things I was taught by those I admire.

Mike

-- hide signature --

'Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.'

 photolando's gear list:photolando's gear list
Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 +2 more
cspringer Forum Pro • Posts: 19,632
To be honest...

In the last few years I've seen MUCH better pictures on people's websites than many I've seen in NGS.

Chuck Gardner wrote:
My good friend and jousting partner Doug MacMillan recently posted
this thought provoking excerpt from the National Geographic Web site
FAQ for how to become and NGS caliber photographer:

"Q: Any advice for a photographer wanting to enter the profession?

A: Desire and drive count, but professional photography is a competitive business, and for every successful photographer there are dozens looking for work. Training can only help to fine-tune a natural “eye,” and although a prospective photographer may have a true passion for the art and craft, if he lacks that eye no amount of training or desire can compensate. Many people must be content to be advanced amateurs rather than professionals. "

Being the logical type I find the NGS answer rather nebulous because
it provides no solid clues to what that mystical natural "eye" is, or
how you'd know if you have one. But it seems crystal clear that the
folks in the ivory tower on 17th Street think its something one is
born with.

But then there are other Q&As about visual aesthetics and developing
a style which mention using color and composition in a unique manner
and being aware of the literal nature of your images and strive to go
beyond them in an aesthetic sense which sound more like things
aquired by training and experience.

So it begs the question what exactly the "eye" thing really is and
how it can be defined? I figured the best place to ask is here,
where several non-photo posting pundits regularly beat the "eye" drum
loudly with the implication that they've got it but most of us lesser
mortals don't. But since they don't post their work we can't see
what "it" is. A bit of a Catch-22 and a bit ironic since the more
literal definition of "artist" is a person who displays their work.

I'd encourage you to read the entire page to get the full context of
that single QandA before responding here if so inclined:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/qanda/index.html

So five simple questions:

1) What observable qualities does someone with a "natural eye" have.
In other words how would an objective unbiased observer be able to
tell a photographer had a "natural eye" from the characteristics of
their work?

2) Do you think you have a "natural eye"?

3) When and how did you realize you had it?

4) How have you developed it and how has your "eye" matured?

5) How much of that maturity has been a result of personal
experience and reflection, and how much was acquired from formal
training, reading and absorbing ideas and concepts like composition?

This might seem like a troll but its not. One of the things I
genuinely like about Doug is that he provokes thought. Raising the
rather open ended and debatable topic of the "eye" provides a good
catalyst for exploring the topic.

CG

pfiltz Veteran Member • Posts: 6,033
Low... Dont waist your time.

There is only one way to shoot work. Follow the rules...

-- hide signature --

Taking mystery away from lighting.... There are no rules...

If you never fail, you never grow....

Regards, Phillip @ Keepsake,

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads