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Author Topic: Hard Skills and Soft Skills  (Read 4606 times)
dreed
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« on: January 21, 2014, 09:35:23 AM »
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Where is the other half of the essay that goes into depth on Hard Skills??
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amolitor
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 01:49:28 PM »
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Isn't that every single photography web site on the planet?
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 02:42:34 PM »
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Isn't that every single photography web site on the planet?

+10.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 01:36:13 PM »
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I posted the essay up on the class facebook page for my photography students to read.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 02:55:28 PM »
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Where is the other half of the essay that goes into depth on Hard Skills??

Hard skills are the easy and relatively uninteresting part of photography. Anyone with half a brain and some money can figure out how to make technically excellent photos. It may take some time and effort, but there's no real challenge.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 04:58:46 PM »
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I posted the essay up on the class facebook page for my photography students to read.

Thank you Ben. Much appreciated.

Alain
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Alain Briot
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MarcG19
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 06:21:04 PM »
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Alain,

Thank you very much for writing and posting this article.
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NancyP
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 06:48:54 PM »
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+1000. This article points out "the obvious" - but too many nerds people neglect the need for balance between development of technical skills and development of expressive skills and personal vision. Stop obsessing about MTF curves, and start looking around you for whatever tickles your visual fancy, whether in photography or in some other medium.

As a modestly skilled amateur photographer, I tend to pay a lot of attention to developing hard skills, but I try to look at other people's photographs, particularly in book form, and ask myself "like it? hate it? meh? why?".
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2014, 12:34:28 AM »
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Another interesting read Alan.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2014, 03:40:23 AM »
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Thank you all.  I am pleased you enjoyed the essay.
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Alain Briot
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 05:10:16 AM »
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I find the term "skill" for the so-called "soft skills" too narrow and somewhat misleading, though it is in general use. E.g. many people in jobs believe "soft skills", "emotional intelligence" or "social skills" is something like the ability to convince people, charm them or make them support your case. These people often like to read according training books how to become a better social manipulator or leader type.

But this is far, far below of what is actually needed in case of the sensitivity, attitude and  judgement required to do something deep, something that can have an impact and of course it touches imaging and arts in general. I find the term skill implies something that can be trained, and to some extent this is true, but only to some limited extent.

I find it's more something in the realm of long term development, including our character, our overall attitude towards life, the world and people and our moral / ethical integrity. Skills of various sorts surely are a part of it. But it's far more than a skill. Its much more difficult to develop,
far more a long term endeavour and much less plannable than anything else. It also falls into areas of life where we are much more predetermined by childhood development and our past in general than anywhere else. It is crucial we don't underestimate the time, patience, energy and personal committment required to develop. Basically "personality" or "character" is what actually describes it more correctly. The term "soft skills" does not really encompasses what it's all about. I also don't believe it can be tested Wink.

Just saying ...

Cheers
~Chris
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Dave Millier
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2014, 12:12:22 PM »
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If we are talking about what it takes to "create" photographs, I suspect there is no single answer. I have loads of books on my shelf by a variety of photographers claiming to teach "style", "how to see" and "what makes a great photo".  I can't say I'm convinced by any of them although they're all worthy efforts. 

I reckon it is just down to individuals figuring out what works for them. For myself, I (now) take the view that as I appear (after decades) to have developed some kind of clear idea of what kind of pictures move me, I might as well just concentrate on making those kinds of photos and forgoing all the other possibilities. I'm shooting for my own satisfaction, it really doesn't matter whether anyone else likes them, trying to second guess what others will regard is "good" is a dead end. Nowadays, I just try and make the kind of pictures I like, concentrating on the subset of techniques needed and forgetting about all the hundred and one other ways a photo can be made and look. 

Reducing the options, narrowing the focus, not covering all the bases and concentrating on something seems to side step all the confusion and uncertainty that comes with too many options, too much possibility.  Bruce Percy has mentioned this kind of thing in some of his writings. Often you are better off with some kind of equipment limitation (a single prime lens,say) because the limitation of not having a bag of gear forces you to find a way of making pictures rather than merely hoping your massive gear bag will cover any opportunity. Having too many possibilities distracts and confuses even as you imagine you are equipped for anything.  Find a subject or style that moves you, shoot that thing and keep the gear simple enough that you have to think the photo into existence is my recipe. Looking at and collecting and surrounding yourself with the kind of shots you want to make helps with that narrowed focus too.



I find the term "skill" for the so-called "soft skills" too narrow and somewhat misleading, though it is in general use. E.g. many people in jobs believe "soft skills", "emotional intelligence" or "social skills" is something like the ability to convince people, charm them or make them support your case. These people often like to read according training books how to become a better social manipulator or leader type.

But this is far, far below of what is actually needed in case of the sensitivity, attitude and  judgement required to do something deep, something that can have an impact and of course it touches imaging and arts in general. I find the term skill implies something that can be trained, and to some extent this is true, but only to some limited extent.

I find it's more something in the realm of long term development, including our character, our overall attitude towards life, the world and people and our moral / ethical integrity. Skills of various sorts surely are a part of it. But it's far more than a skill. Its much more difficult to develop,
far more a long term endeavour and much less plannable than anything else. It also falls into areas of life where we are much more predetermined by childhood development and our past in general than anywhere else. It is crucial we don't underestimate the time, patience, energy and personal committment required to develop. Basically "personality" or "character" is what actually describes it more correctly. The term "soft skills" does not really encompasses what it's all about. I also don't believe it can be tested Wink.

Just saying ...

Cheers
~Chris
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2014, 12:21:20 PM »
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Yes.
That's what I was trying to say:
It took you decades and a lot of trying, experience and lifetime to come to that point.
Thats far more than the term "soft skills" could describe.
Its tied to your personal long term effort and development.
Though all kinds of training, books, workshops etc. can help, of course.
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2014, 12:51:45 PM »
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If we are talking about what it takes to "create" photographs, I suspect there is no single answer. I have loads of books on my shelf by a variety of photographers claiming to teach "style", "how to see" and "what makes a great photo".  I can't say I'm convinced by any of them although they're all worthy efforts. 

I reckon it is just down to individuals figuring out what works for them. For myself, I (now) take the view that as I appear (after decades) to have developed some kind of clear idea of what kind of pictures move me, I might as well just concentrate on making those kinds of photos and forgoing all the other possibilities. I'm shooting for my own satisfaction, it really doesn't matter whether anyone else likes them, trying to second guess what others will regard is "good" is a dead end. Nowadays, I just try and make the kind of pictures I like, concentrating on the subset of techniques needed and forgetting about all the hundred and one other ways a photo can be made and look. 

Reducing the options, narrowing the focus, not covering all the bases and concentrating on something seems to side step all the confusion and uncertainty that comes with too many options, too much possibility.  Bruce Percy has mentioned this kind of thing in some of his writings. Often you are better off with some kind of equipment limitation (a single prime lens,say) because the limitation of not having a bag of gear forces you to find a way of making pictures rather than merely hoping your massive gear bag will cover any opportunity. Having too many possibilities distracts and confuses even as you imagine you are equipped for anything.  Find a subject or style that moves you, shoot that thing and keep the gear simple enough that you have to think the photo into existence is my recipe. Looking at and collecting and surrounding yourself with the kind of shots you want to make helps with that narrowed focus too.



That's pretty much what I have been advocating all along: sod the rest - do your own thing. It's as valid in pro life (possibly even more so) as in the amateur. And doing your own thing starts right at the start! Logical, no? (That's a rhetorical one - okay?) Once you have learned camera technique, which doesn't have to have you submitting to another's mindset, by the way, you are free to go out and do it, whatever it, for you, might be. Your photographic virginity of purpose is as fragile a gossamer as any other you'll ever come across. You lose it once, and then you're effed.

Rob C
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NancyP
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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2014, 04:26:40 PM »
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There's a local amateur photographer/entomologist  that takes the most amazing pictures of a particular family of insects, the Tiger Beetle family ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_beetle ). He knows their life cycle and habits, knows where to find them, and gets photos showing them in their native habitat doing what they normally do.

There's a better-known local-ish professional (Ph.D.) entomologist expert on army ants who has transitioned from being a very enthusiastic professor helping other entomologists gain the photographic skills to document field research, to being a part-time professor and most-of-the-time photographer giving insect photography and macro clinics to the public and leading insect photography tours. www.myrmecos.net academic, www.alexanderwild.com photography business.

Passion about a topic, and some knowledge about the topic, can be part of the "soft skills" and can help one focus on a specialty, in the above cases, insect macrophotography.

The three or so Missouri Dept of Conservation professional photographer/media specialist/educator individuals have their own specialities. One is an amateur astronomer (lucky for him he lives in a dark-ish sky area) and has for years taken "astro-landscape" photos, well before those photos became popular. Another is a bird and mammal specialist. One Conservation Dept photographer self-published a very detailed and very well photographed book on the prairie grouse family ( http://www.savethelastdancebook.com/  Some of the less-covered specialties are taken care of by amateurs or professors: herpetology, insects and spiders, etc.

When you learn to see something, you want to learn more about it, and the more you learn about it, the more you see the next time you go to photograph the subject.
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Isaac
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2014, 12:11:41 PM »
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I'm shooting for my own satisfaction, it really doesn't matter whether anyone else likes them...

In other words, photography as a hobby.

I think that's what photography is for many of us, but identifying as an Artist is so much more appealing ;-)


Nowadays, I just try and make the kind of pictures I like, concentrating on the subset of techniques needed and forgetting about all the hundred and one other ways a photo can be made and look.

Me too, but I think Alain's analysis is correct for me -- "The natural tendency is to focus on our strengths, ... We do this because it is enjoyable. ... However, while doing so is certainly enjoyable it is also short sighted.  ... engage in activities we find challenging in order to learn and to grow."
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alainbriot
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2014, 02:05:54 PM »
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What matters is knowing what we want to achieve.  Anything we want and do not have yet, lies outside of our comfort zone.   If it was in our comfort zone, we would already have it.  We therefore have to leave our comfot zone to acquire it.  I spend a lot of time out of my comfort zone.
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Alain Briot
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2014, 02:22:55 PM »
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What matters is knowing what we want to achieve.  Anything we want and do not have yet, lies outside of our comfort zone.   If it was in our comfort zone, we would already have it.  We therefore have to leave our comfot zone to acquire it.  I spend a lot of time out of my comfort zone.

You are still suffering from the delusion of seeing yourself in control? Wink

Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2014, 01:07:08 PM »
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You are still suffering from the delusion of seeing yourself in control? Wink

Cheers
~Chris


One never is entirely in control, Chris. At best, we discover early the pathway for ourselves.

Rob C
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2014, 01:18:02 PM »
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One never is entirely in control, Chris. At best, we discover early the pathway for ourselves.

Rob C

I believe skill is overrated, luck and guts underrated.
But its more flattering for the ego to believe the opposite.
Seeing ourselves as only partly being craftsmen and partly being a medium out of control helps opening new perspectives.

Cheers
~Chris
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