Photograph above taken at a Leonard Nimoy exhibit, 2008, with a Leica M6 and Ilford XP-2 fllm
Intuition in Composition: A Topic I Will Never Debate
I occasionally get emails and messages on Facebook from artists and photographers that claim they can successfully compose their artwork intuitively. In fact, I received one yesterday. The artist argued (quite angrily) that design happens "naturally." Of course, this statement would sound absurd to anyone trained in design. While I have always believed that intuition does play a significant role in one's style, the artist that neglects to study and apply solid design principles to their art will pay the price regardless if they draw, paint, or take photographs.
In my experience, artists and photographers that claim they can compose intuitively (meaning no prior training) will argue that "there is no evidence that master artists or photographers of the past used formal design to create their art." However, this argument is total nonsense. While there is a massive amount of information available for the visually literate artist, the so-called "gifted" artist can't interpret a well-orchestrated composition because they haven't obtained the necessary skills to be able to read a work of art. In other words, their argument is based solely on emotions, not knowledge or experience.
If I wanted to get into a long-winded debate on the topic, I could easily argue the fact that there is no evidence that suggests a masterpiece can be created by artists that design intuitively. After all, my argument is just as valid, and there is no shortage of examples. All one needs to do is visit a modern art museum. Nonetheless, rather than waste my time trying to persuade the artist or photographer that has no desire to learn or progress, I would rather walk away peacefully. It's safer for them, and it's safer for me.
“Instinctive art without mental control is bound to fail." - Jay Hambidge
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