Sunday, February 19, 2006

Concerning technique and imagination

Working in an environment ripe of proud and egocentric engineers, I have the opportunity to speak, more and more often, with people omniscient of all the technical aspect of Photography, except the photographs that they take. It almost seems that the public opinion is converging toward the conclusion that the effectiveness of message conveyed by a picture is somehow implicit in the quality of the picture taken. Which I don't believe at all.
I rather believe that, just like any other artistic expression of the human kind, practicing photography would be a sterile, useless and meaningless activity if we considered it simple technique, having few connections with the world surrounding us or if we only let technical issues rise above the others.
Technique is indeed very important, as far as it allows us to easily reach the results we have in mind. I would also dare to say that a good technique, not necessarily coming after a long practice, widens the photographer' sight and improves those skills which are important for the imagination to gear up and come out of the darkness.
Notwithstanding this unquestioned (and banal) truth, I feel to say once more that a good, perfect technique does not make the artist, as someone pretends to say. Art acknowledgement in photography should mainly be a matter of recognizing the influence of the artist's imagination over the image capture and elaboration. That is more and more important today, as the digital technology has removed most of the difficulties that traditional photographers met along the process that leads from the subject to the image reproduction on paper. Nevertheless, among traditional photographers, it's still spread the idea that technique excellence is mandatory for being ranked.
When I ask for details about a photograph that I like, I always get information about the film, chemical filters, lenses and so on. I never get an answer starting with the photographer feelings at the moment right before shooting. Sometimes, but rarely, I'm told about the aim of the photographer and how far the result was.
It looks as if the photographer was embarrassed to reveal his feelings.