“Learning from the Masters” is a weekly series where share useful lessons we can learn from others, regardless of their medium. The important thing for me is how we can apply these lessons to photography, and to our lives as creative individuals.
Art Wolfe needs no introduction from me here, I’ve written about his work and influence on me many times in the past. But there’s always something new to learn from Art and his incredibly prolific career and creative output. This recent talk at Google headquarters is a lesson in embracing photography as a true art form, from someone who is truly at the forefront of pushing boundaries both artistically and commercially.
My biggest take away from the talk was Art’s enthusiasm for photography as a true story telling medium. Though his work spans many subjects and genre’s, it’s his commitment to tell a story with every image that unifies his work. That’s the difference between a photographer that shoots many different subjects because he doesn’t want to limit himself, and one who brings his whole being into every subject. Art typically devotes 9 years to a book project – 9 years! That’s focus and dedication.
Another point to note is Art mentioning several times that he knows very little about how his digital camera works and only uses a small percentage of its full capabilities. Although I raised my eyebrow when I heard him say that (in disbelief), the lightbulb went off and I nodded my head. And I realized the accuracy of his statement doesn’t matter one bit.
What matters is that here is a truly great photographer placing the emphasis where it belongs – on the work and not on the tools.