A Student ask HOW….A Master asks WHY?

We all start off our learning with the quest of HOW to DO whatever it is that we are learning.  Student photographers want to know how to pose a subject, how to make their lighting look like the photographer they see in a book, magazine or seminar.  When we are new to something, the “HOW” is all we care about.  We feel if we only figure out the “HOW”…we will have mastered the subject we are learning.

Good example, right now I am working on a DVD, as well as a new book  and both are on posing.  The book is going to be filled with countless images of poses and the build-up photos for each pose.  The books audience is the younger photographer who is looking for the “HOW”.  “Show me unique poses so I memorize them and hopefully remember some during my next photo shoot”.  While we all start there, the disappointment felt after learning HOW, leads to the next level of learning which is the search for “WHY”.  You can look at and memorize the 500 poses I am going to show in a book, but until you understand the WHY, (why did I choose that pose, why did I choose to lay the girl on her stomach, why did I select that pose with that subject with that background?) you will never truly understand the posing process.  A pose you see with a high school senior in the book might be beautiful, in the book, but you take a full-figured, adult woman in the same pose and you end up with some scary results!  This is the frustration of only learning “HOW”.

To the wise, learning is a challenge and a reward of living a successful life.  To the young and impatient learning is an obstacle that you must find a path around.  Isn’t that the problem in our profession today?  Learning photography, lighting, posing, composition, as well as the marketing and business skills needed to run a successful company are to hard and take too much time, so the path of crappy photography is taken, where the person can’t charge a fair price for their images, because they are not a professional quality. They soon find there is no money is selling crappy photos that are doctored-up in Photoshop, so the person quits to seek life’s next non-challenge!

While my new book is directed at the newcomer to our profession (after-all we all have to start somewhere), the DVD shows both the “HOW” and the “WHY” of posing. The target of the DVD is the photographer who has come to a point of frustration that  only understanding the “HOW” brings and is ready to go to the next level of learning and understand the “WHY”.   Many photographers, being as impatient as I was when I first started into photography don’t understand why they can’t learn the how and the why all a the same time?  Learning takes time.  You must learn then practice and then learn some more and practice some more.  I started learning photography when I was 14, did my first wedding at the age of 16 and opened the studio I have today when I was 21.  No one wanted  wanted to learn any faster than I did, but it takes time…and the reason I am still here today is that I continue to learn and to practice.  Once you accept that learning a process that never ends, you accept the fact that you never know it all and you will continue improving as long as you continue learning.

My father was a great guy.  He was one of the funniest people I have ever known, but at the same time he was very deep and insightful.  As I was growing up, he would see people who seemed to be stuck in life or living as though their best days were behind them and he would say, “as long as a man thinks of himself as “green” he is growing…..it’s only when he considers himself grown he begins to die”.  I never really understood the truth in the words until I entered in to this profession.  Always live as though your best days are coming.  Learning makes sure that will always be true!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on November 21, 2010.

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