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Friday, September 25, 2009

Ripple Effect ~

I don't think there's any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little. People have to be their own learners. They have to have a certain talent.
~ Imogen Cunningham
4/12/1883 - 6/24/1976
I have probably read this quote more than 100 times, yet I continue to find it questionable.
Imogen Cunningham was undoubtedly a talented photographer, but I find her words to be contradicting. In the early years she studied under other photographers and as we all know, since the early 1900's, technology has changed the world of photography by leaps and bounds.
I have known countless photographers that have talent beyond imagination that have never taken a photography course. I also know countless photographers that have degrees in photography that never produce anything more than a common snapshot. Talent cannot be learned. But having said that, as the world of photography evolves I find that it is a constant study. As a photographer, if I don't continue to learn then I am trapped in my current knowledge, as the world of photography progresses.
Anyone can pick up a manual or book and learn about lighting, composition, or how to use their camera beyond the Auto Mode, but that doesn't make one a photographer. A true photographer is someone that has a passion for photography; degree or no degree. Talent cannot be bought, but passion alone doesn't make one a photographer either. Unlike a painter who can pick up a paint brush and produce a masterpiece, a photographer must have the talent and also stay abreast of changes within the world of photography. I wonder if Imogen Cunningham's earlier works, those that made her famous, would be as prevalent today as they were in the early 1900's?


  1. Very well put, Tina. I'm reminded of the responsibility a gifted photographer has to use that God-given gift to immortalize a moment in time for future generations. Long after the photographer of that Life Magazine cover photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in New York's Times Square at the end of WWII is gone, that picture will remain to convey the feeling and emotion of that moment.

  2. So true Jay!
    I have photographs of my grandmother and my great grandparents when she was a teenager (that would have been more than 100 years ago)and although I don't know who the photographer was I'm able to look at those photo's and have a sense of what life was like back then; long before I or my mother was even a thought! So many people don't realize the impact a single photograph can have long after we're gone!