Artistic Ability - Are We Born With It OR Can One Practice and Learn It?

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, this topic kept popping into my head.  I would see it pop up from time to time on social media, so I figured I would write a post about it. I would love to know what people think on this topic as it’s been so prevalent in my mind over the past while.

Are people just born with artistic ability or is it something you can learn, practice and hone and eventually become artistic? I have asked a few people this question and most seem to be on the side that think people are born with artistic ability. Some are of the other camp as well but the majority seem to think we are born with it. Now even if we are born with it, I think you still have to work at it, hone it and perfect it.

Albeit some people are just born with an innate ability to play an instrument or paint or draw but for the most part I am of the mind it has to be worked at. Now maybe some people are born with some artistic ability in them but I really do believe you can learn how to paint or draw or take a picture if you keep at it and practice and are taught properly. Perhaps not to the skill level of Picasso or Ansel Adams, I think artists like that, of that skill level are far and few between, but I think most anyone can be taught and learn and become an artist to a certain degree.

Let’s start a conversation on this topic, I really and truly would love to know what people think!

What do YOU think?

Male Boudoir Photographers - It's NOT a Man's World

Now I am fairly new to boudoir photography and when I say new I mean I have done a handful of shoots.  I know there are lots of guys out there who aren’t photographers at all but think wow that is so cool and what a great gig that would be. Believe me I have even heard that from a few friends. You get to photograph half naked women in lingerie, look at sexy women all day and so on. While yes this is true I photograph women in lingerie this is not what it’s all about for me, not at all!

When I am shooting a session I am not even thinking about how sexy the woman is or anything like that because I am too busy focusing on posing her.  I am making sure the lighting works for the shot and ensuring my camera settings are correct in order to make certain I get the shot as close to perfect “in camera” as possible. I really don’t have time to be concerned about the other stuff especially when I am in the zone shooting, interacting with my subject.

I know that some people would balk at that and say I am bullshitting and it must be at least part of the intrigue and interest but it really isn’t. In all honesty for me it is truly about making the women who get in front of my camera feel comfortable in their own skin.  Feel beautiful, help them build their confidence, help them love their bodies.  Ultimately I want them to be happy with the images/art I create for them and if I can do that for EVERY woman that gets in front of my camera then I know I have done my job as a photographer.  I will have helped another person to realize their self-worth and beauty and that my friends is the icing on the proverbial cake!

Is Photography Art? Should Photographers Be Considered Artists?

I have heard a lot of chatter and read a few articles relating to this subject as of late on the internet. It does pose an interesting question for sure but I think the answer is really, well, subjective as is art. Think about it, what you and I may consider or deem to be art, the next person looking at the exact same thing may feel and/or think it isn’t art at all.
Firstly, I have heard a lot of people say that photography isn’t art. How is that possible? A photograph is what that person is seeing with their eye, through their viewfinder. It is their interpretation at that precise moment. Is that not considered art? Secondly, if what a photographer does is considered art, then by all accounts a photographer should be called an artist! Do these people or photographers really even give a shit if their work is called art or if they are considered to be artists?
Art by definition is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
I guess what I am trying to say is, if it feels good or feels right to create something, to express your creative skill and imagination then just keep on doing it. Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about whatever it is you do being labelled art or being put into the box of being called an artist. Just enjoy the process of creating and be proud of your work. First and foremost create for you.
Happy Creating folks and just keep on doing what you love to do!

Creative Slumps - How Can We Dig Ourselves Out?

As an artist I am always seeking ways to be and stay inspired. This can prove to be a very, very tough thing to constantly maintain. It’s very important to remain on track and not get discouraged, otherwise you will end up falling down the proverbial rabbit hole known as the creative slump or creative block.

How are we supposed to stay inspired you ask? Well for me as a photographer, I take to the internet and peruse the millions of images out there for ideas and inspiration. I will sometimes listen to music that I love, of all different genres. Music, I have come to find, can inspire a mood, thought or idea which in turn lead to creative bursts. Pinterest could be another source for inspiration. Take a look at other artist’s boards and it doesn’t have to be an artist who works in your particular medium. You can find the inspiration for creativity in many places, you just have to open your eyes and mind and pay attention to your surroundings sometimes. Your next great work of art could be staring you right in the face and you aren’t even aware of it.

Some other possible avenues to explore are just plainly talking to people. Conversation can be a great initiator for ideas. Try reading the newspaper! It may spawn an idea from current events which could turn into an idea to perhaps work on a charitable project. There are many ways to pull ourselves out of those horrible dark creative slumps, we just have to be willing to do the work to pull ourselves up and out.

I will be the first to admit, it’s not always easy to cut through all the noise, focus and come up with ideas but if you just take a moment, step back and are ABLE to see the forest for the trees, you just may be pleasantly surprised with what you can create.

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Shows, Contests and Magazines - Is It About The Money or The Art?

I am sure that many artists alike can relate to this post as this has probably happened to quite a few of you, at one time or another.

What I am referring to is being contacted through e-mail or by phone by art show organizers, magazines or people running art contests. Now I realize that all of these people mentioned are trying to run a business just as we all are. They need to make money to sustain said business and this is where we the artists come in.

It can be mutually beneficial for the artist as well as the people pursuing the artists. The contests and magazines which are out there are on a similar plane in terms of whether or not the cost to enter these contests or have your images grace the pages of magazines are worth the possible exposure you gain from it. For the artists, if the show they are being asked to participate in is a well known event in the art world, this presents ample opportunity to showcase work, make connections and network. The flipside to it is these shows can be costly to participate in, therefore the trade off of cost vs. exposure had better be worth it for the artist. A lot of this exposure comes at a cost, which isn’t cheap.

The first thought that enters my head EVERY time I receive one of these e-mails is “are these people just looking for money to fill their booth space, or page layouts?” I then have to take a step back, do some investigating in terms of researching the company or magazine or person contacting me. I need to gather all the information possible, perhaps even reach out to other artists to find out if they have heard of or participated in the contest, show or magazine. Then and only then can I make an informed decision on how to proceed. Of course let’s not forget about the bank account which will also dictate whether the opportunity is feasible.

I only have a limited amount of experience with this type of thing but I do know this though, it pays off to do your research so you don’t end up in a situation where you have shelled out money for this type of venture and you end up with a bad taste in your mouth because it didn’t work out the way you had thought or planned.

As I stated in the beginning of my post, these shows, contests and magazines can be incredibly lucrative for an artist in terms of financial gain and more importantly, exposure. I cannot stress to you all enough, the importance of being diligent in doing your research before you hand over your hard earned money or sign anything!

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Art Critiquing - A Necessary Evil

At the seminar I attended last week Scott Kelby touched on the subject of having your work critiqued. He said that if you want honest feedback you need to have your work looked at by people other than friends and family. He mentioned there was a friend of his that was always going on about photography and his gear and how he was shooting this and that, so he figured man this guy must be pretty good. It turns out, that he was just horrible but nobody close to him, meaning his friends or family would tell him this for fear it would really hurt him. So this begs the question, if you want an honest opinion of your work, do you need to go to an outside source?

I have heard many photographers say your family and friends will never tell you the truth or give you honest feedback about your work. I would have to say and this is just my opinion but I don’t totally agree with this statement.

I don’t think this is naivety on my part, I just believe I have completely honest, upfront, no bullshit friends, family and spouse in my corner. They will tell me if they think something doesn’t look good or it’s not working for them. I am sure this isn’t the case with everyone because some people just wouldn’t want to hurt people’s feelings or crush their goals and dreams by telling them they don’t really have any raw talent or the eye to make it as an artist. How hard would it be to tell someone they should just sell their gear and try something different as a career choice?

If you think about it though, are we doing more harm than good by not being totally honest? Just because it is the craft they chose, does it mean they are absolutely good at it? I say you are giving them false hope by doing this. Be honest and open, isn’t that what friends and family are for? You can tell someone their work isn’t good enough without being mean or cruel. It’s called constructive criticism! They may not want to hear it but isn’t it better coming from friends and family? Or is it better coming from strangers?

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