Are you self taught?

puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Major grins

As the title suggests.
After reading the bio of an individual who says they're 'self taught' - and in essence, 'talks this up' to a large extent in their approach to photography - I wondered what % of DG 'togs are?
If so, do you think you've missed out on anything important?



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    RichardRichard Administrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,938 moderator
    edited April 25, 2017

    I suppose I'd call myself "Dgrin taught," for better or for worse. I joined when I first took up photography as a hobby with a Canon point and shoot, and over the years I have learned quite a bit about technique, gear and processing here. While all of that has been enormously helpful, for the stuff I like to shoot the most important thing is seeing, and I'm not sure that can be taught. It can be learned with lots of practice, maybe. Feedback from other photographers helps to understand what works and what doesn't. But then, I don't consider myself a model for anybody--I was a hobbyist in the beginning and I'm a hobbyist today. I doubt that formal training would have made much of a difference for my purposes, though it might have made the learning faster. I enjoy the whole process, and that's the most important part.

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    sarasphotossarasphotos Registered Users Posts: 3,834 Major grins
    edited April 25, 2017

    I imagine a large percentage of us are self-taught. As a teen one of my dreams was to be a professional photographer but in the late 60's / early 70's there seemed to be too many unsurmountable obstacles to pursue that particular dream.

    At 18 I finally got my first SLR and read a few books and learned what I could from other photographers. My pictures from those early days are certainly better than the Instamatic photos from others but often not much more than snapshots with a better than average camera.

    Over the years I've learned a thing or two from pro-photographer friends and acquaintances but most of what I have learned in the last 10 years has come from shooting digitally and "developing" on the computer. I also learn a lot from looking at others' work here in D-Grin and of course reading on the Internet. There's always room for improvement!

    Postscript: @Richard hits the nail on the head about seeing, although I do think it can be taught and learned to a certain extent.

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    RichardRichard Administrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,938 moderator
    edited April 25, 2017

    @sarasphotos said:
    Postscript: @Richard hits the nail on the head about seeing, although I do think it can be taught and learned to a certain extent.

    Just to contradict myself, I was struck years ago by this quote from Freeman Patterson's book, Photography and the Art of Seeing:

    "If you do not see what is all around you every day, what will you see when you go to Tangiers?

    One of the things I learned from that book is that you don't need a camera to practice the art of seeing--you can do it any time. It took some effort at first, but now it comes naturally. It all seems pretty obvious after the fact, but I probably wouldn't have thought in those terms on my own.

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    Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Registered Users Posts: 2,294 Major grins
    edited April 25, 2017

    I have no "formal" photography training/schooling. When I first got started I was a little self taught. I was persistent enough not to take no for an answer and finally talked some professionals to take me under their wing to really teach me the ropes. My focus then as now was on the business side of photography.

    I"m sure that back in the day there were many "self" taught photographers, but I find it a little difficult to believe that anyone today can be completely self taught. Why would you want to be? Between forums and online videos and books and workshops there is just way too resources to ignore just to be self taught.

    From what I know, formal training (schools) focus all or most of their effort into the rules and art of photography which can be a good thing if that is what you want.

    I'm sure that I've missed out on some things by not having taken any formal training when it comes to actually creating images. I still learn new things all the time, and if I find out that I don't know something, there are far easier resources than a school to learn from. (Imho).


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    JAGJAG Super Moderators Posts: 9,088 moderator

    Interesting topic! I started back in my teens and wanted to be a pro photographer. I bought my first SLR for $30 at 15 and then saved up for the soon to be released Canon AE1 which was 10x the amount of my first camera. I did do 1 semester of college as a photography major, but was disolutioned by all the nonsense classes I had to take just to get a degree in photography. So basically, the only 2 photography classes I took was history of photography, which was interesting, and a shooting class that focused more on the darkroom techniques.
    So I left before finals and decided to do photography on the side while working full time. I did 11 weddings which were not very profitable with film shooting, but eventually I got married and had kids. Didn't pick it back up until about 2005 when I got my first ps digital camera. I wore that out quickly! I've picked up quite a few jobs since then and had basically taught myself how to manipulate photos in different editing programs. Discovered dgrin in 2008 after I discovered Smugmug when looking for a host site for my clients images to reside. Now I specialize more into digital works of art as I have retired from taking in clients for portraits and events.

    So it is easier for people now a days to 'self teach' but technically if they are gleaning anything on the net, then they are not 'self taught' completely.

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    puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Major grins
    edited April 28, 2017

    Since I asked ... am also a bod who's never had any 'formal' training / schooling.
    First camera in our house arrived when I was on the cusp of single / double figure age - but I hardly used it because most of my spare time was spent building model boats / aircraft instead.
    There are two pics of that 2.25in sq. B/W era that still survive worthy of note (to me)
    1) pic of a model lifeboat ... taken from its (low) level ... !
    2) pic of a bird on a fence post in back garden - can hardly see the bird (in frame centre) - but the background shows fields all the way to the distant river / canal. This is of interest, because a housing estate was built on said fields, and the area beyond is now the country park where I now go for waterfowl pics.

    For a laugh I've used both pics at a couple of talks I've given to cam clubs / groups about my approach to pixel gathering.

    Like many others I suspect, more serious experimentation started with the arrival of digital - I went from MF Canon to digital direct, missing out AF film.

    There's no way I can remember any specific areas where I've picked up ideas / tips that've resonated with me, apart from a few exceptions.

    Charles Krebs - on a specific macro forum - superb eye, technically brilliant ... and very free with passing on ideas etc - an inspiring guy and doing some stuff (like stacking) way before most others.
    Finnature - for having a few pics on their site (which I came across by accident, googling) - showing results of someone using a floating hide. Whilst I'd realised the importance of a low pov, those pics hammered home the point and I started making gear to get me lower than I had already been. (most floating hide pics are way above the level I now shoot at, btw)
    Zoomer - here on DG - for responding to another poster with his Light, background, composition, pose comment ... which verbalised my approach.
    Peter Cairns - Northshots - I find his blog / style of writing / outlook etc worth reading.

    I've since added my own ..'St. Pants ...
    Shoot the Picture, and not the subject

    Ie if the impact of a (w/life) pic is still present, after imagining replacing the rare / exotic subject with a (dirt?) common one - then it'll get more respect - from me, anyway - others will, of course disagree

    First slr was a Minolta srt 101, in '73 btw ... but - with a few exceptions, I'd not say I had a clue what I was about / trying to achieve at that time.


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    petrochemistpetrochemist Registered Users Posts: 10 Big grins
    I've no formal training in photography, but was probably shown the basics by my father when I got my first SLR over 30 years ago and in my early years I attended several professional photo shoots as an observer or model. (My Dad worked in advertising). Since going digital I've read quite a lot & experimented/practiced heavily in most areas of photography.
    My formal training does include spectroscopy which comes in handy when doing infra red photography even if it's not directly related.
    For over 5 years I've helped run a weekly photography workshop, where sometimes complete beginners still manage to ask a question that ends up teaching me something new. Long may that situation continue! :)
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    Thelonious58Thelonious58 Registered Users Posts: 1 Beginner grinner
    > @Richard said:
    > > @sarasphotos said:
    > > Postscript: @Richard hits the nail on the head about **seeing**, although I do think it can be taught and learned to a certain extent.
    > Just to contradict myself, I was struck years ago by this quote from Freeman Patterson's book, _Photography and the Art of Seeing:_
    > >"If you do not see what is all around you every day, what will you see when you go to Tangiers?
    > One of the things I learned from that book is that you don't need a camera to practice the art of seeing--you can do it any time. It took some effort at first, but now it comes naturally. It all seems pretty obvious after the fact, but I probably wouldn't have thought in those terms on my own.

    I definitely agree with you about seeing the everyday all around us. I can't help noticing things hundreds of times a day and subconsciously noting them as potential future subjects. Ideally one gets to travel to photogenic locations, but there are lots of opportunities within walking distance. On the other hand, it's always good to discover a place to have never visited before. Seeing is far more important than expensive cameras and equipment, although I have been staggered at just how good my recently purchased Fuji XE2S is in terms of image quality, colours and low light capability. I am just discovering the joys of shooting at ISO 1600 and seeing sharp, detailed JPEGs!
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    Len TurnerLen Turner Registered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    edited August 9, 2018
    I've taken two community college basic photography courses over the years. First was in the mid-70's; b&w, darkroom, etc. Second was 2002, intro to digital cameras and basic post-processing. But most of what I've learned has come from trying to make my stuff look like other folk's stuff...
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    dotozmdotozm Registered Users Posts: 20 Big grins
    I am mostly self taught. I knew I was in too deep when I started thinking about the light everywhere I went even if I did not have my camera.
    I took my first class ever this past weekend. I had about 3 light bulb moments the first 10 minutes. The way I look at it, you are never done figuring it out. If I ever think I got it all figured out, I will give it up.
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    slpollettslpollett Registered Users Posts: 1,200 Major grins

    I have taken a couple of one-day workshops and classes, but mostly I have learned from watching tutorials on the internet, reading here on Dgrin, and asking many questions to my photographer friends. In some ways, I do think I may have 'missed out' on learning certain things. I'm sure my camera will do more than I know how to do, but I have made an effort to learn as much about the equipment as I could. I am terrible with photoshop and editing in general. I am really not the creative type, so my editing is limited to the simpler functions to boost color or do some spot healing, etc. I do plan to take some classes on photoshop and editing when I retire from my day job. :)


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    pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,700 moderator
    edited August 23, 2018

    Self taught, no formal training, but a lifetime pursuit.

    I first began playing with a camera about 60 years ago shooting 35 mm Tri-X in a Kodak Retinette 1a - I learned to bulk load 35 mm cassettes from 100 foot rolls of Tri-X and souped it in D-76 and several other developers that I have forgotten long ago. I would read Pop Photo and try to learn a little to improve.

    In college I finally managed to aquire a Mamiya-Sekor 500TL, with a 50 and 135mm lenses, and when I was finally gainfully employed stepped up to an Olympus OM-1 SLR - I built a darkroom and printed 16x20 inch b& w and Cibachrome color prints in the early 1980s. I shot Kodachrome and Ektachrome underwater in a Canon F1 in an Ikelite housing in the late1980's and then kind of stepped back from photography for a while.

    When digital arrived, after 2003 or thereabouts, I finally returned to photography with the fantastic Canon 10D and was blown away by how much better that very primitive digital camera was, than previous 35mm film cameras. But I had a lot to learn about digital image editing, shooting, and displaying. I joined dgrin here in 2003 and have been learning ever since.

    I had long experience with the tools of photography, but I really think getting a better eye was a long slow process, that was helped a great deal by attending some photo workshops and having my images critiqued, and more importantly, watching lots of other folks images be critiqued as well. I think I have made some modest improvements over the years. Even my younger brother thinks that too, so there must be a drop of truth to it....

    I continue to learn from many folks here on dgrin, far too many to name them all, but a few come to mind including Ziggy, Richard, and PuzzledPaul, and a fellow, no longer here on the forum, named Rutt.

    I am not done continuing to learn yet, I hope. I am wanting to play with flash more than I do too.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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    [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 23 Big grins

    Self taught .. I do read allot and pushing the boundaries has always been my thing.

    I started taking photos in my 20's , I was hired as a Night Club Photographer for a marketing company. I had to learn quick , talk loud , bull shit in huge doses as i had to get 100 Individual photos per night club , and i had 4 to cover in the evening. I learnt the art of posing someone when they look their worst , Bad lighting , grabby girls and jealous boyfriends , all in a nights work. I
    I have been working since i was 13 , my parents are poor , I was not wealthy , so could not even think about trying to study.
    I used to borrow friends camera for months at a time. . I started doing slow shutter speed photography with a Canon EOS that took film. I found i could " feel" the camera after a while. I think i learnt that skill in busy dark nightclubs , Changing settings , batteries and film in the dark. I borrowed one of those first digital cameras that took STIFFY disks ( 1.4 megs ) , i would haul boxes and boxes of disk swhen i went on a shoot.
    A friends mother bought me my first DSLR. ( Thank you Rose , bless your cotton socks ) A Canon REBEL 350 , That camera and myself went places , deserts , rainforests , over oceans , up mountains. I sailed around the world twice before the poor camera and lens picked up some nasty fungal infection from a Panamanian rain-forest.. Think bread mold , but inside your camera and lens , and the moisture just shorted the more thing.
    I then prostituted myself and did so many weird and strange jobs so i could get a new camera. A Canon 650 . I do Ok with her , I just dont have the money to upgrade . That camera goes everywhere with me. I take it to work , if i go visiting friends , it always goes with me. Crime is a huge problem here in South Africa , house breaking is a constant worry . I dont have insurance , so i would fight to the death for my camera. Its my one tool that allows me to create work , go places where others dont , and yes , my way of changing the world ,. One picture at a time.. BUT i never leave the camera at my place. Its to risky.
    So here i am , i am 45 Years old .. I am living hand to mouth , I lost everything in a bad breakup. But i HAVE MY cAMERA.and thats what counts.
    I like to try things in photography that i either never heard of , or things that scare me. I net work , and ask if i can do a photo walk with that person. IThats how i learn.
    I read , I explore , and try new things all the time,. I am not afraid of failure , and am a total lone wolf , I do sometimes take small groups of Togs out onto the streets and i teach them how to look after themselves on the streets , what to look out for and how to move and dress. Things i have learnt from experience and believe me , I have been to some wild places.

    I never dismiss a person because they have a lack of formal photography education. I am one of those. I pride myself in not been able to grow my own photography style , I go by feel , if it feels right , then i am on track. I am not narrowly constricted by "the right way" to do things , I am still learning , and i have some much more to explore.

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