Tom Reichner wrote in post #17058230
I really relate to what OhLook said in the final paragraph of her post (above).
But isn't that kind of a developed skill set in itself? I mean, I'm sure most people have at some point seen something (not even necessarily a photograph) that they really like, but can't really say why. Then someone else mentions how this one element kind of relates to something else and then it's like, "oh yeah, that's totally it. Why couldn't I see that?"
Even among a lot of beginners who don't know what they're doing, I find that there are often still a lot of common acceptances of what's working and what isn't. Some of that's probably biological and some of it's probably cultural, but I find it common that certain "things" just often elicit a more favorable response. The total beginner might photograph a flower, and like it even though it's totally boring. But then someone else photographs the flower and relates it to something else in a really interesting way, and that beginner will often say, "I liked mine, but wow...I like that one a LOT, even though I don't know why." Could it be that many photographs (or any work of art) tap into common psychological triggers in order to be effective, and that the "skill" is in being able to recognize such things before shooting so as to better manipulate the audience? It's having an effect on people whether they realize it or not. It's just that certain people don't realize the effect until after someone mentions it to them, while some people are "skilled" enough to notice such things outright and use it to their advantage.
And is that an inherent trait of how people are? Or is it a "skill" that is developed out of previous experiences? I'm kind of taking this from personal experience. People have loved or hated much of my work for various reasons (hated mostly, I'm still pretty much a n00b), but the most interesting of my images have sometimes made people be like, "you're really weird or unique or something, because I never would have been able to come up with that." And when I think about it, the answer to "how I came up with that" is really mundane and simple. I didn't decide to photograph guts because my mind works different on some fundamental level. I did it because I spent my formative years reading science books and watching documentaries enough to train myself to see order and beauty in the content. When I show people my miniature dioramas, one of the questions that people always ask is "where did you find these things?" And the answer is usually "just walking around." Probably because as a kid I was the weird guy who chased bugs and snakes, so I developed a skill for looking around and noticing tiny things that other people ignore. It still kind of boils down to "doing things a lot".
Now, I realize that minds do operate differently. The fact that I ever gravitated towards science and animals and bugs in the first place probably resulted in some way from my innate personality. But that's just a start. The result comes from starting at that point and then running with it for the next 30 years (to various degrees). It's still kind of a whole lot of practice.
And more related to photography, I can state that I got better after doing one simple thing. I'd look at photographs that I loved, and say, "that's badass." So then (and maybe I just have a naturally analytical personality), I'd keep looking at it and think to myself, "WHY do I like this one and not the next one?" Keep in mind, this was before I ever picked up a camera. I literally didn't start photographing anything until I was 17. Took photography as an elective in my senior year of high school without ever having picked up a camera. I didn't choose photography because I liked doing photography, I did photography because I liked photographs. My work was pretty well received, and it's possibly because of this...the only thing I was doing was copying what I'd seen before. Which was what everyone else in the class was probably doing too. The difference being, I wasn't copying it until AFTER I had analyzed it and gotten a better idea of what I was actually trying to copy. Some people have commented on me having a naturally good eye, but I don't think it's that at all. It's more that by the time I started doing photography, I had already to some level developed a certain "skill" simply by spending years training myself to look at things analytically.
Anyway, that's just me. I'm not sure if anyone else feels the same way at all. I just feel like, while certain people naturally have certain innate traits, it's easy for them to get squashed if they aren't constantly developed. Hell, OhLook kind of says it herself. "airfrog says this is the easy part to learn. Well, maybe for the STEM people it is, but I came from the humanities." If I had to guess, I'd wager that her ability to see interesting relationships is a "skill" that she has developed in part from her academic history. It didn't come out of a vacuum, and if it did, it probably wouldn't be as well-refined as it is now without her working at it and developing it through her studies in other "unrelated" fields.