First off I will say, I absolutely love Eric and his continued wisdom on photography and perspective on the craft. But I would like to counter a few things (and I think he will appreaciate me for doing so).
I’ve been asked to teach a workshop myself so I am using my friends, new and old, here as a bit of a jumping off point. I don’t know if I’m ready but there are a few things
1) ONE CAMERA ONE LENS
While I think one camera one lens is cool, gives photographers less to think about and let’s us just focus on making photos, I think it too can be a crutch. To be the best photographers we can be I think we need to be able to utilize all of the tools available to us. To be able to make choices of equipment for a task, and therefore in a way pre-conceive our photographs based on he knowledge of said equipment choices.
Does a carpenter just use one hammer? Does a painter just use one brush? Why do we have so many choices in the first place?
For instance if you want to use a 90mm lens on the street, why not? Why not a 280mm? The idea here is you are looking to get the best shot YOU can make and while you have to understand your own history and the history of the art. The bottom line is you can make a shot with whatever you see fit.
That said, if you can only afford one camera one lens or make that choice, by all means become the best possible photographer with that 28 equivalent and rock it. But KNOW it is a choice!
There is NOTHING wrong with using your lens wide open if you want to. I wouldn’t default to it, just like I wouldn’t default to “F8 and be there”. Maybe a better point is to say, “know when to shoot wide open, and when to include more depth of field in your shots.” Again this relates back to knowing your EQ. Making informed choices based on knowing multiple different set ups, including lens choice. If you have an f2 lens, why in the heck not shoot at f2? Seems like you are unduely limiting your palette.
3) WORKSHOPS VS FINDING YOUR OWN MASTER, YOURSELF
I have both taken Eric’s workshop and others (Bruce GIlden twice, etc) and although there is a lot to be said for the input of a leader, the intensity of critique, and more it can be another crutch. The only person that can tell you anything about your own photography, life or art in general is yourself. You know better than anyone who inspires you, what your particular perspective is, and how this journey is going to pan out. Trust it. Find the teachers that give you the most step up, and when anyone’s filter goes against that ask yourself why or how that feels to you? Are you afraid of being yourself, seeing what you see, knowing what you know? Do you. You have to become your own Master.
4) ONLY SOMEONE WHO THEY THEMSELVES HAVE CREATED A NOTABLE WORK OF ART CAN TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT CREATING A NOTABLE WORK OF ART
Like the above, this is simply finding those that tell you anything about the creation of art someone that has they themselves gotten to a point that they have something to tell you. Choose your influences wisely. The thought above is from Ezra Pound’s ABC of READING. About poetry, but works for most other arts if you see fit to read it.
5) WHAT YOU DID BEFORE YOU WERE A PHOTOGRAPHER, OR YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF PHOTOGRAPHY, OFTEN INFORMS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY MORE THAN YOU THINK
How you define your own distinct voice in this is often a combination of assimilating a style from the artists before you. True enough. But to go BEYOND that you have to develop something that is uniquely you. As you are yourself a unique person. Araki once said, “I wondered what would happen if I photographed every aspect of my life?” What would you photograph? Who? Wh n? How? This is sometimes more important than any of the techniqu and aesthetic choices you make (editing and processing). Otherwise your images are only your editing and processing and well, that’s interesting but it’s just one step, one aspect. Find yourself in your work and you will attract more people to he human condition you create. It’s more universal.
Thanks folks, and please debate what I’ve said if you feel like doing so. Nothing is set in stone.