Posts: 10

Barton-upon-Humber, England, United Kingdom

+1 Christopher Donald
This reminds me of a conversation I had with my College Tutor recently, that came down to. "Why does a dog lick it's balls ? Because it can."
With the nature of photoshop and all of it's possibility, this leads to a whole heap of ball licking.
I find why to be a great question to ask myself when ever taking a photo or playing with it in PS and the answer to the question should always be about how it is going to help the over all final piece and not just because that one small piece is going to look so good.

Sep 02 11 08:05 am Link



Posts: 6985

Fairbanks, Alaska, US

Taste is subjective and, therefore, can only be "improved" relative to a subjective standard.  Usually, when someone says taste is "good," they mean that it's similar to their own taste, and usually they view their own taste as being commensurate with some accepted norm or "truth."  Taste can be brought more into line with my preferences, and really that should be a common goal for everyone (that's sarcasm, for those who are missing the gene), but to discuss "improving" taste without defining the standard is nothing more than pedantic arrogance.

Sep 02 11 08:41 am Link


Argiris Maipas

Posts: 43

Athens, Attikí, Greece

Excuse my English
Everyone who do creative work,  get into it because he-she  have good taste, but as you see of your self’s you never likes your works from the first time you start until today all your works are not like you want ,every day you need something more ,you have the taste but you don’t have the technic (skills) you see a photo and you say –how did he do it ,I have it in my mind but I cannot do it .-

Between taste and skills there is a  gap that you try every day-month-year  to close it. For the first years you make stuff, it’s just not so good, it’s trying to be good. But you have the  taste and your taste is why your work disappoints you. I know people 70 years old and the gap between their taste and their skills is there  If your work is amazing-great-awesome for you ….maybe you don’t have the taste

We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. Maybe we have more skills than taste or taste with few skills
We all go through this, the most important thing we can do is do a lot of work, the work  will close that gap.

So I don’t say 'skill vs taste' but skill walking parallel with taste .

about skills I remember the words of a Greek philosopher ,Socrates at 400 bC
‘As long as I live I learn’
‘One I know is  that I don’t know nothing’

Again Excuse my English in my language I can express all the above  better (and more)

Sep 02 11 10:37 am Link



Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Tim Hammond wrote:
Taste is subjective and, therefore, can only be "improved" relative to a subjective standard.

Let's put you down not as stating a fact but as taking one side (the aesthetic relativist side) of a very old debate. To clarify what that debate is about:

Smith says, "Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 is better music than NWA's '8 Ball'."

Jones say, "Oh, no, '8 Ball' is better than the violin concerto."

Question: Is it possible, in principle, for a neutral referee to settle the question of which piece of music is better?

The relativist says no. "Better than" merely indicates one's personal preference.

The other side says yes. Preferences aside, there is something in the respective compositions themselves that makes one better than the other.

Sep 02 11 01:38 pm Link



Posts: 3580

Green Bay, Wisconsin, US

To answer OP, yes, skill can exist exclusively from taste.  Would explain why everyone copies everyone and never tries anything new.  lol  Even taste can be learned.  Even in what people may consider "distasteful", would explain why everyone copies everyone and never tries anything new.

Sep 03 11 10:00 am Link



Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 of 4

"on good taste"


This is a great little video on the taste / skill gap

Sep 04 11 05:46 pm Link



Posts: 15867

New York, New York, US

How come Andrew Kramer doesn't make epic feature length movies?

because he likes making visual effects, not stories

OP, answer to your question is that people should consider what their aim is, and then refine the skills necessary to get it

Sep 04 11 08:38 pm Link



Posts: 404

London, England, United Kingdom

NothingIsRealButTheGirl wrote:
Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 of 4

"on good taste"


This is a great little video on the taste / skill gap

That is one decent link. Thank you.

Sep 04 11 09:23 pm Link



Posts: 967

CHADDS FORD, Pennsylvania, US

Thomas Van Dyke wrote:


btw, unless you're the client your taste may not be relevant... but your skill is...

Great point! And very pragmatic.

Sep 05 11 02:47 pm Link



Posts: 5446

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

I like this thread. smile

Sep 24 11 11:49 am Link


JNH Graphics

Posts: 25

Jeffersonville, Ohio, US

Taste is all a matter of opinion. What you think is tacky hundreds of others might love. For that matter how do you know that YOU'RE tastes aren't the tacky ones?

You just don't, therefor people aren't going to get better and better and eventually impress you.

So essentially, tacky will never be out of style or outgrown. Individual people may change their opinions on varying tackiness in their works, but even if they stop doing something they now consider tacky doesn't mean they have improved in taste in any way....they just changed their mind about the way something looks. technically then, people could get "tackier" as they progress and get better.

I'm not entirely sober so I hope the previous statement made ANY sort of sense. o_O

Sep 25 11 12:35 am Link


Michael McGowan

Posts: 3829

Tucson, Arizona, US

For both taste and skill, it's important to look at high-quality prints ... not publications.

The dynamics in a great print far, far exceed what you can see in the best reproductions in magazines and, often, online.

I had been familiar with Ansel Adams' photographs from books and magazines. The first time I saw one in a museum setting, the little light bulb went on, showing me just how different things were in the world of master printers.

The same thing is still true with top-quality prints and transparencies. Once you get your eyes trained for that level of quality, you have a legitimate target for retouching.

Sep 25 11 12:48 am Link



Posts: 15961

Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom

Taste is whatever the media dictates to us.

Sep 25 11 12:54 am Link



Posts: 350

Plovdiv, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Skill without taste is useless. I think everybody is capable to train its taste but it takes time just like everything else and comes naturally with the time.

Sep 26 11 07:20 am Link


Photos by Jerry

Posts: 701

Edmonds, Washington, US

Everyone here has talked about skills and taste, but I have seen no one discuss "craftsmanship."  Those photographers that we honor from the past developed a craftsman's ability to create.  They did not just have skills, but disciplined skills.
To take one example, Ansel Adams developed a craftsman's ability to pre-visualize his final black and white print at the moment of camera-capture.  When he clicked the shutter, his mind had already decided the steps to create his final vision.
Contrast that ability with the modern machine-gunner who takes as many digital images as possible because something is bound to come out, just by random chance.

Sep 26 11 07:44 am Link


Le Beck Photography

Posts: 4114

Los Angeles, California, US

Taste or better: refined tastes, can indeed be acquired. All it requires is an open mind a liberal education, and better than average intelligence. My parents taught me much of it, I learned a lot in school because I had teachers who were open minded, intelligent and  well educated. I taught myself a lot once I'd reached High school.

Taste is an aspect of Culture. Learned behavior. The notion that bad taste doesn't exist is pure BS dreamed up by people with terminal bad taste.

Sep 26 11 01:22 pm Link


Matias JC

Posts: 12

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

My take to this, Skill is based on taste, and tase is based on skill... so for those with skills it doesn't mean that they have taste... and visa-versa.

To imporve taste? What I do is go to find inspirational images, things I see and like and develop a taste from that... once I can digest that taste, then I apply my skills, BUT I hope I am not confusing, we need to know our skills, so our taste don't go well, beyond what we can do... else, that's a big failure, for me thou that is...


Sep 26 11 03:51 pm Link