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24.3 - Technique

#3: Technique

As with equipment, for some photographers, technique is the most important part of their way-of-working.

That's okay.

Zen and the Art of Photographic Technique?

For others such as Man Ray:

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique and ask "how," while others of a more curious nature will ask "why."

Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.

Walker Evans responded to a question about the need for the latest photography equipment:

As in typography and printing, photography shouldn't arrest you.

Something should be said through it, not by it.

Your mood and message and the point have to come through as well as possible.

Your technique should be made to serve that, kept in place, as a servant to that purpose.

That does require skill, knowledge and technical ability, and you have to have done the work in order to make it not show.1

In an interview by Dean Brierly, the photographer Gilbert Fastenaekens spoke about technique:

One should always remember that technique is only a tool, an auxiliary, a partner.

It's important, yes, and should not be overlooked.

But it's absolutely not the essential thing.

It's like when you start bicycling.

At some point, you have to stop looking at yourself pedaling, otherwise you are not going to get anywhere.

Photography, like bicycling, is a vehicle for discovering new worlds and horizons.

For me, photographic technique is the same type of auxiliary aid as a bicycle.

That is to say, it is necessary to be able to master the technique, but only so that you can more easily detach yourself from it in order to explore new horizons.2

1 Katz, L. (1971, March-April). An interview with Walker Evans. Art in America. Reprinted in Goldberg, V. (1981). Photography in print: Essays from 1816 to present. New York: Simon and Schuster.

2 Dean Brierly, Gilbert Fastenaekens Interview, Camera & Darkroom, August 1995.