Pedantry Is The Enemy of Great Photography

Meadowlark Photo_Painting by Scott Bourne

I am fast approaching my 50th year as what I would consider a “serious” photographer. I have learned a whole lot in that time. One of the oldest lessons I learned and one of those that has survived all the changes in the industry is this…

Pedantry is the enemy of great photography.

Carrol O’Connor said: “The wages of pedantry is pain.”

Whenever I go to a photo conference, there is always at least that one guy who wants to one-up everyone. They spend all their time looking for exceptions to the rule so they can prove they’re intellectually superior to the rest of us. They obsess over minutia. And in doing all those things, they don’t leave any space in their creative mind to make anything that matters.

When I meet pedants with cameras, I try to do a test. I immediately try to look at their portfolio in the hopes that I will come across just one – just one, who has a decent photograph to their name. In 50 years it hasn’t happened, but I keep hoping.

Why write this? Because for the pedants among you, it’s not too late. When you are tempted to bathe yourself in mindless data, useless facts, and countless hours looking for the tiniest exception to any rule, STOP! Just STOP!

Grab your camera, shut down your brain, and try to FEEL something. Then try to turn THAT into a photograph. I know the idea sounds very messy to you if you are a pedant, but at least try it. You may be saved after all.

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