Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Learning methods

Jeepney, Manila, November 2009

Paul Butzi has an interesting post about his fuzzy method of working. This put me back in mind of something I've been observing on people's learning styles.

Part of my day job involves teaching, coaching and advising people in my area of expertise. I am constantly amazed at how many people want "the answer" or "the rules" to a given problem, when there often isn't a single way to approach it, or method is problem-specific. I think the demand for photographic rules of composition or exposure is something along the same lines.

Like Paul, I'm something of a fuzzy learner. I like to have some guiding principles and play around with them, put them together in new ways, discovering what works and what doesn't. Eliminate the useless, and fill the gap with another trial. It's what I like to think of as a "Lego brick" method: a pile of bricks can be put to any use, once the rules for combining are figured out. This is the way I encourage others to work, too. A few guiding principles and lots of scope for personal "figuring it out" and creative thought. I'm not sure if my teaching method goes down well all the time.

And so it seems with photography. People want rules: for exposure, for composition, for subject etc. I think it is why "how to" books sell so well. An approach that is alien to me (I don't own a single "how to" book on photography subjects).

Maybe the human brain has two modes of learning: inclusion - do the things that are known to work, the rest might kill you - and exclusion - do anything as long as it's not proven to kill you. The safe at home mode and the explorer mode. In photography there is much more scope for exploration - it's not an inherently dangerous thing - but it might take effort to trick that caveman brain into believing it.

1 comment:

  1. Sune / Jonson PL8 December 2009 at 04:38

    Fun shot.
    Interesting perspective, I think it is very true. Also why places like DPr and their tests are talked about a lot. Some people want a sharp pixel, others can see that many things can work.

    I think we in the West, want things that we can measure, and be able to label things. (Of cause I go and read 100 % view tests as much as the next person.)

    People want to understand art, and it is easier if it fits in boxes


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