To Study or Not to Study… that is the question…


I have always prided myself on being a completely self-taught photographer.  I have wore it like a badge of honour. Not so long ago I wondered if this was actually the best thing for me, and maybe I would do better (from a business perspective) if I actually had some qualifications to my name.  And so I looked into doing some courses.

In the end I couldn’t bring myself to do formal study.  Partly because I am just such a free-spirited person, with the self-discipline of a small child. But mostly because doing a course would mean completing modules that basically hold no interest at all for me as a photographer.  Weddings, portraits, sports photography.  It would be near to impossible for me to find subjects willing to sit for me, to even complete the assignments.  Plus these are area’s that I just can’t see myself getting excited about.  And so I gave up on the idea of formal qualifications.

Yesterday I posted some of “self-taught” photo manipulations.  I thought they were kind of average, but not bad for first attempts.  Well I got such a wonderful reaction to them, that it got me thinking.  People are often commenting on the fact that I seem to have my own unique style.  It’s funny cause that has always been the thing that I have been the least proud of.  I try so hard to emulate the amazing work I see plastered all over the internet, and I work so hard to one day be able to reproduced work such as that.

But apparently that isn’t the right thing to do.

I did an art class a few years ago.  Acrylic abstract painting.  I produced two works during those courses.  They proudly hang on my walls.   The teacher was a wonderfully talented artist, with a very unique style of her own.  That is until she started teaching.  By the end of the class.. all the students had wonderful pieces of art to take home.  All of which looked pretty much the same, and all of which looked exactly like the art teacher had painted them.  She taught us to paint.  She just never taught us to “create” for ourselves.

I am not saying that there isn’t value and merit in taking formal study.  For many, it is completely necessary.  I certainly don’t want my medical surgeon to be completely self-taught.

I guess what I am realising, is that, we all have our own creative style.  Perhaps even inherently born within us.  It’s ours and ours alone.  And comparing our talents to those of others is not only counter-productive, but maybe even detrimental.

So from now on, when my work doesn’t look like that of other people.. instead of getting upset, or discouraged by this.. I think I am just going to smile softly… and celebrate my own uniqueness.  I hope you all will do the same.