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Thread: Things Photographers Can Learn From Musicians

  1. #1
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    Default Things Photographers Can Learn From Musicians

    I found an interesting post on the net in 2009 titled ' Things Photographers Can Learn From Musicians ' by a person named Guy Tal . I reproduce the post below :

    'It is a long standing tradition in photography that the person who clicks the shutter button gets to claim all accolades for the resulting image, whether it is their own original concept and composition or a blatant copy of someone else’s. Chalk it up to maturity of each art form, but in music there’s a clear distinction between composer and performer, between singer and songwriter, between “lyrics by” and “performed by”. Even the greatest guitar virtuoso will give credit to Led Zeppelin when playing “Stairway To Heaven” and the most celebrated classical pianist will proudly admit to performing a score originally written by Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven.

    Have you ever seen a photo credit along the lines of “image by such-and-such, original composition by someone-else“?

    Are you a performer or a composer? a vocalist or a songwriter? an original or a cover?'

    Now this brings me to the question - Most Wildlife Photographers ( others too but since this forum is about wildlife photography I will stick to them ) rely heavily on the expertise / knowledge of professional / non professional guides / people to help them in the field. But do any of them acknowledge their contribution ? The copyright of the photograph is always in the photographer's name. Is that ethically correct or do we need to give equal credits ( financial and otherwise ) to the person whose knowledge made the image possible in the first place ?

    I call this the White Hunter / Native Guide syndrome . The former cannot operate without the latter , but the hunter hogs the all the glory leaving a few crumbs to the guide in the form of tips etc.

    A related example is the BBC film on the " discovery " of high altitude Tigers in Bhutan. The Bhutan Govt, and the locals were well aware of their existence , high altitude Tigers are not new . I quote from Ullas Karanth,s Way of the Tiger - Tiger habitats can range from sea level to elevations of almost 3000 meters . Occasionally they cross some mountain passes at 4000 meters in the Eastern Himalayas.

    The movie was not well received by the Govt of Bhutan it will be a very long time before we see another wildlife movie from Bhutan.

    Anyway I seem to have strayed from my original point. Do we need to learn from musicians and share credits ?

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    There are lot of things that photographers can learn from musicians.

    1. I was told that Lata Mangeshkar, does her daily practice even at this age. Though we have been told from the childhood days that practice makes a man perfect, do we follow it? I guess, the rebellious streak in me never likes to practice. However, unless you practice, the equipment doesnt become like second nature to you. So you need to take your eye off the viewfinder to fiddle with the buttons and the moment passes away.

    Or it may so happen that you try to think or worry about the right exposure and the moment is lost. So unless and until you have get the mastery over your craft, you can't produce good results on a consistent basis.

    In the IndiaWilds newsletter Vol. 2 Issue I had mentioned about the 10,000 hour rule of Malcolm Gladwell. It says you need to put in 10,000 hours to be a master in your field. For more details please check here: IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol 2 Issue IX | Diary - Tales from India's Wilds

    Also, people waste too much time in thinking which equipment to buy, but relatively less time in using it. So the morale of the story is go out and start clicking or filming in the field.

    2. Teacher:
    Reverence for a teacher. I was amazed to see the way musicians, singers etc respect their teacher or guru. Unfortunately, photographers don't think it right to respect their teachers or give due credit to the person they learnt their craft from. With the advent of digital, a lot of people think photography is just pushing a button. I think that is one of the reasons why they think they have attained mastery.

    3. Perseverence:

    Musicians learn their art over a period of time. They keep on persevering. As opposed to that, photography has been reduced to a craft form ie. pushing the button - at least in the eyes of a lot of people. Most of the musicians don't give performance until their teacher think they are fit ie. attained sufficient level of mastery. (Of course, these days there is a trend towards participating in music shows in TV etc, but that is primarily driven by the younger guru brigade.

    Photography, especially wildlife photography is as much of a life long learning as is learning music. One matures over time like an old wine.

    Giving Credit:
    I agree that Photographers can learn to give credit. Filmmakers from abroad mostly give credit to the driver, guide etc. However, in India, there is an unfortunate trend where the wildlife filmmakers don't acknowledge the help and support they have received from people. I am talking about filmmakers who have been mentioned in the Wild Screen awards and who have even been members of National Board of Wildlife.

    I am sure there are many more things that one can learn from musicians.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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