783 – Just A Friend Of Mine

Fellow blogger Juha Haataja recently brought up the topic of photographic expertise, speculating about how much time photographing it would take to become what everybody would deem an “expert”. It caused me to write a lengthy reply that I won’t repeat here, go over to Juha’s site to read it, but the more I think of it, the more it gets clear to me, that the simple act of repeatedly doing is, what eventually brings forth expertise.

I don’t believe in the idea that a genius goes out, does what he never did before, and that it’s good. Things don’t work that way.

Well, probably sometimes they even do, but I firmly believe that there is always room for improvement, and this improvement comes from intimate familiarity with your subject.

Bicycles are a subject that I’ve got quite familiar with. They fascinate me for their simple geometry that nevertheless often forms the most poetic constellations of lines, ellipses and circles. In a way bicycles have become friends, and photographing them, I feel quite comfortable by now.

The Song of the Day is “Just A Friend Of Mine” from the 1987 Vaya Con Dios debut album. See a video on YouTube.

6 thoughts on “783 – Just A Friend Of Mine”

  1. I always enjoy your bicycle shots and agree with you about the aesthetics of the machine and its parts. But what I’d really like to see in today’s pic (12/04) is a close-up of that beautiful green badge on the head tube that is so out of focus! I look forward to seeing your site everynight when I get home from work.

    Rod

  2. “…and this improvement comes from intimate familiarity with your subject”
    You are definitely right here, and David Hurn gives exactly this advice in his book “On Being a Photographer”: Become a micro-expert in your field.
    The genius part however can still be the freshness of view, the approach, but (at least I hope) that can be developed and trained. So going out and thinking and shooting really seems to be the best way to improve.

  3. Thanks to Andreas for writing the long comment, it provided a lot of nice ideas.

    The book “On Being a Photographer” was an excellent suggestion. I went and checked it on Amazon.com, where reviewers gave a lot of praise: “Perhaps the best photography book”, “For those who love photogrpahy”. And some others trounced the book – probably a sign that there are original ideas in it.

  4. How does the old saying go: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. I guess that holds true for whatever you start doing. From that perspective it’s a bit frustrating that time is so limited.

    Or the other way around: Becoming a micro-expert, becoming truly familar with your subject makes you loose the opportunity to become familar with other subjects…

  5. There are great athletes. There are great coaches. Both are made greater by the other, eh? And each grow through practice. It is a three legged stool I think. We learn by doing, by learning, and by pushing at limits. And you put it so well. Thanks… Oh and by the way, thanks for another take on a bike. Amazing.

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