Unreal Nature

March 6, 2008

Talent in Photography

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 9:38 am

“Sometimes photographers take an “I could have done that” attitude when it comes to talent in this industry, but honestly, you can’t.”

That’s a quote from a post by Rob Haggart  on his blog, “A Photo Editor“.

Thomas Broening  disagrees with him in a response to that post:

“I think the idea that either you are born with talent or you are not is a false one. Photography is one of the few professions left that require a long apprenticeship period to learn the craft. The exception is the student who comes right out of photo school ready to shoot professionally. It is more common that it take 5, 10 , or 15 years (20 in mine) to make a photograph.

If I had to choose between hard work and talent I would choose hard work every time. It is rare that I look at a students work and say I wish I had shot at least one image in the portfolio. The difference most of the time is the student has not figured out how hard they need to work order make it.

I saw Sally Mann speak years ago. She showed an amazing photograph of her boy in the water. It is super well known and has been shown around the world. Then she showed the eight other times she shot him in the same location that did not quite work. She hadn’t quite worked out the composition in some , the light wasn’t right or the boy wasn’t right. She kept plugging away at it until she got it right. Talent got her most of the way but hard work made her great.”

I agree with that last sentence.


Other good posts on the A Photo Editor blog are:

Haggart’s  interview with Bruce Kramer (owner of the Art Mix agency) about his new gallery

Haggart’s  interview with photographer Andrew Hetherington

(Note that the “A Photo Editor” blog is primarily about commercial and editorial photography.)




  1. In the same theme, Robert Doisneau said “If I knew how to make a good photograph, I would do it every time.”

    Comment by David — March 7, 2008 @ 10:45 am

  2. David,

    I think the key to Haggart’s post is the “in this industry” part. He’s talking about getting the for-hire job done by a deadline. Broening, Mann, and Doisneau, on the other hand, are trying to do something much harder, but they are able (if williing) to take a lifetime to do it. In both cases there has to be some talent (I think everybody would agree that there are people who don’t have any talent for photography) but the commercial/editorial photographer has to be a quick and flexible and “good enough” while the art photographer has to get something much more than “good enough”. And please don’t ask me to explain what I mean by “more”. I’m working on it — as is Doisneau.

    Thanks for stopping by.


    Comment by unrealnature — March 7, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

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