Source: Creativity Corporation by Mr. Fish via And Then The Fun Began

I’ve always been an avid reader and before I got my Amazon Kindle part of my weekend routine was to visit our local bookstore and spend an hour or two browsing. Now much of my reading is done electronically (although not photography books which I still buy in hard copy. The photographs just don’t work on the Kindle), but I still go to the bookstore from time to time. I find a couple of interesting books, go to the coffee shop, have a coffee and read for a bit.

Of course, I always look at the photography books. Generally there are two sections. One, called “Digital Photography” that for the most part contains books on photographic technique and cameras. The second is usually called “Art and Photography” and contains books by photographers e.g. I recently noticed books by Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, Dorothea Lange, Drew Barrymore and a bunch of books by Ansel Adams.

Of late I’ve noticed more of a certain kind of book in the first section, books not focused on individual cameras, not focused on what f-stop to use in a certain situation. For want of a better word I’ll say that I’m seeing more books devoted to inspiration, vision, creativity etc. Some Examples:

Achieving your potential as a photographer.
The Creative Fight.
Inspiration in Photography.
Learning to see creatively.
The Essence of Photography.

Can it be that photographers (mostly amateur photographers I imagine) are finally realizing that sophisticated cameras and a good knowledge of photographic technique can only take you so far? The problem is that it’s quite easy to learn how to use a camera. It’s a bit more difficult (but not much) to learn photographic technique. At a certain point I realized that I was buying books on photographic technique and my pictures weren’t getting any better. I knew as much about technique as I needed to. Now it was just practice and developing some kind of vision. The latter is the hard part. I’ve read some of the above books and, while interesting, I’m not at all convinced that they helped much. In my darker moments I think that either you have vision/creativity/inspiration etc. or you don’t – and if you don’t there’s not a lot you can do about it. Then the gloom dissipates and I start to think that with persistence, resolve and practice some kind of vision will evolve. As Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Someone I came across on a photography forum added something like: “And in my case the second 10,000 are not much better”. I couldn’t agree more.

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