Tag Archives: rules

Understanding The Creative Experience in Photographic Art

Part of the creative experience when you are creating art of any kind is to understand when to break the rules. Studying the successful works of the masters before you earns you some of this knowledge; however, this alone does not guarantee success.

People that practice both photography and art like to have rules. But, rules are guidelines. More like suggestions to be contemplated. What makes a rule a steadfast guarantee of success in one photograph will make it an utter failure in another.

No, instead it’s really applying learned academic knowledge combined with the intangible gut feeling of pure instinct over the period of many viewings.   When you are looking at a subject, say a flower, if you purely concentrate on the academic aspects of taking the picture all you will accomplish is taking a clear focused picture.


That’s it, and that is harder than what most people realize in the days of iPhone photographers. That’s because the proper academic technique of taking a picture consists of the mathematical measurements of aperture, focus, rule of thirds, white balance and lens selections, the list goes on and on. You either get these right or it’s wrong.


The result is a properly formatted picture of a flower. It looks good. But is it art? That’s where so many people get hung up on definitions.

Now let’s look at that flower from a more creative view. When you are viewing the flower what are you trying to express? What vision are you giving your work? Do you want to break any rules to make that image speak the emotion or action you want it too.

Purple Daisy
Purple Daisy

How you come to this is by experimentation and learning what works for what goal you want to accomplish.   For instance, does the flower have to be precisely centered in the picture, or by putting it to one side can you force the viewer to move their attention?

After a while and about 10,000 pictures you begin to develop an eye for what is going to work and what might not. It is not really a conscious thing though.  I mean you don’t wake up one morning and the world suddenly looks different.  Rather, it is a slow process that usually takes years to appear.

However, I daresay you will become as proficient in the creative view of photographic art as the academic photographer does with all of their math and formula.

Mind you, neither side is necessarily better than the other and any photographer worth their lenses will tell you that it takes both the academic and creative approaches to truly the master the art and science of photography.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!   


Museums Get Tough on the Selfie Stick

Walking through museums behind young children scares me. Weird huh? Well, young children have young minds. Those minds have not quite matured enough to figure out that running into the 3000 year old vase swinging your toy is not a good idea.

Children usually lack that bit of common sense and need an adult to guide them through this experimental period of their lives. My years as an educator have taught me that sometimes this common sense passes on to the next generation and sometimes it doesn’t.

In the prehistoric world very few people lived to see 30 years old. Why? Because back then, without medicine and technology, one grand act of stupidity took them out of the human breeding population for good.

But, we’ve moved on. We invented. We, as a species, overcame the chance that doing a stupid thing results in your untimely death. There are no more Wooly Rhinoceroses to play cow tipping with.

Likewise, we now have rules of no running in the museum. Museums hired guards to patrol the art galleries to enforce this rule. Calmness and serenity should descend in the art museum. Unfortunately, human ingenuity is known for creating both chaos and order.

Enter the latest act of social silliness, the selfie stick. According to Molly Shilo of the Observer the MoMA is the latest in a long string of museums including the Frick and the Guggenheim that have seen the potential danger in our latest social craze. In response, they have all outlawed the use of selfie sticks in the museum.

No more can the young carefree mind swing a selfie stick around and carelessly carve up a Caravaggio. No one will accidentally poke a Pollock. That 3,000-year-old vase of the sheer genius and artistic style of a civilization long dead is still viewable to everyone.

In the end, this is a good thing. It’s a sign that the museums are responding to popular outside trends and are trying to save both the world of art history and the youth of today.  It saves the art world from unmitigated disaster and any youths from making a stupid life-changing mistake in the name of a selfie.

The young student of the arts may not understand what the big deal is. They may even rebel at the idea of not being allowed to have this fun. I wish to encourage a sense of patience to these future protectors of human ingenuity. Your selfie is not worth it.

In order to explain this concept, one must understand  that while we have a better chance of surviving the consequences of our actions. If you mutilate a $41.1 million Matisse with your selfie stick you may wish you didn’t survive.   Your allowance sure won’t.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!

How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake Art Buyers Make.


I was in Washington D.C. attending a conference for social studies teachers. The conference developed some major problems with over booking of session spaces.  This had the effect of leaving a large crowd of history teachers in walking distance of the National Mall with nothing to do for an afternoon.  A history nut within walking distance of the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery Of Art with nothing to do?  Yeah right…

In a flash I was out the door.   I went to the National Museum of the American Indian where upon hitting the gift shop I saw a Clown Clan Koshare.  It was a clay figurine representing the Hopi Clown Clan and made by a Hopi Indian.  It was only about 6-7 inches tall and hand-made and painted.  This was not your typical tourist trap ceramic doll.  It was a real piece of sculpture. The clown is seated with a watermelon in his hands and featured the traditional black and white stripes of the clown clan. The price for the figure was perfect, being on the low-end of  what you’d expect for fine southwestern art of this type.  It was a good bargain for a real piece of  Native American art.  Not that any of this actually mattered.  I liked it.  I wanted it.

It was at that point where my brain became my worst enemy.  I stood there contemplating how I could get it back home without damaging it or having it lost at the airport.  I decided that it would be best for me to wait until the last day of the conference and come back with a better plan on how to stuff it in a backpack to carry it on the plane.  So, grudgingly, I left without buying it.  When I came back the next day, it was gone.  I found out it sold later the same afternoon I had visited.

Thus, I learned the harshest lesson of art.  If you find a piece of art that is handmade, authentic, and you really like it.  Buy it.  Don’t worry how you will get it back home. You may never get another chance to get it. I learned the hard way that sometimes you only get one chance to own art.  Oh, and the salt in the wound?  I realized at that moment, I could’ve had it shipped home.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!


Want to know more?   Check out this article at the Peabody Museum  http://tinyurl.com/d47v9q3  and a modern description of the way a clown acts during the ceremonies at http://www.sfaol.com/life/koshares.html