photo prose: gary rabenko

It all requires thought


Eyes glaze over. Faces sag. Bodies slump. Confusion overcomes and normally confident persons whither at hearing the phrase: everything requires thought. This is true of those who quickly want to become a photographer. They may want to assist, or intern, for a short while to learn everything there is to know and then they want to do what I do.

Recently a young person found me in at my studio. That’s not so easy, as when I am in I am in creative sessions, and when I am out, I am not in. But here I was, listening to how her parents suggested the visit because she wants to be a photographer, even though they advised against it. I got the distinct impression that she had brilliant parents.

Photography can be a wonderful career for those who love technology and take pride in developing both artistic and technical skill. Those insensitive to the human spirit never feel the effects that an image has on its viewers the same way as those sensitive to artistic things can feel, and who therefore put feeling into what they do. But it does involve an interest in understanding technical things, being good with gear, and great with people. It involves an artistic spirit but requires a mind that is both artsy and strongly anchored in science.

Doing something that is different is not doing something better. On the other hand, those who don’t love technical considerations ultimately fail to adequately and competently control the technical, which is essential. Automation does not suffice. Images a machine can do on its own render you superfluous. For those that want something special, you better be special!

This person tried to sell me on the idea that while she has a lot to learn and does not really know anything yet, that by being an intern with me, we will be helping each other. Yes, she could be learning a lot and possibly be of help to me.   But if what she will be doing is not important then she would not be learning much and will soon quit, just after I started counting on her to have a modicum of ability in a task. If I have low standards, she won’t learn what is important, and if I am strict, she will tell others I am difficult. If a task is important then it involves caring, concern and accuracy.

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