Or should you be left to your own devices?
Without going along the well trodden path of the why’s and wherefores of one’s involvement in photography, you know, the outlet for some repressed artistic urge, the opportunity to let others see the world as we see it, etc. etc. A subject that fills many books and articles by photographers that feel the need to explain their work ad infinitum, and provides many column inches for the so called cognoscenti and critics of the photographic world.
I am of the opinion that you should learn by mistakes and progress on to better things by using your own noddle. Why don’t you set your own objectives? Why do you rely on others to point you in a direction that may have no relevance to your own desires and skills, why pay people to tell you what you already know, why slavishly follow orders to look at certain things in a certain way and explore areas that you will have explored anyway in the natural scheme of things?
When I took up photography I’m pretty certain that there were no university courses in the subject, no paths to stardom via expensive privately run workshops and courses. True there was ‘nightschool’, where you learned how to load a film, develop it, make a print and the basics of composition plus a few add-ons such as lighting and the mysteries of lith film and infrared, but very little in the way of artistic interpretation and expression. You were sent out into the wide world eagerly grasping your beloved SLR, which had cost you a few days wages, and left to develop your own style, after being told to look at pictures of all kinds at every opportunity that presented itself.
Now that those establishments and opportunities are available to the budding snapper, and have been so over quite a few years, I can’t say that I’ve noticed a massive upsurge in quality of work presented to the viewing public at large, just more pretentious twaddle being talked about the art form.
So don’t pay someone to kick you up the backside, it’s much cheaper to do it yourself, it just takes a bit more effort and physical manipulation!
An illegitimate son of a Devon farm worker with no formal education, Ernest Bevin took the post of Foreign Secretary in the post war Labour administration, he was asked by a cabinet colleague what university he had attended, he supposedly replied ‘All that I know has been learned in the hedgerows of experience’.