JoJo wrote: You can teach the basics to most people (and most primates) - they can replicate your teaching - this elevates them to "labourer" status.
You can attempt to motivate and introduce desire to a labourer - if the labourer accepts AND THINKS the labourer's status is elevated to that of craftsman.
Now comes the most difficult part, trying to teach a person "art".
Stop now because you can not teach "art" - you can teach the mechanics of "art", you can teach the fundamentals of "art"... but you can not 'teach' someone how to be artistic - that comes from within.
What schools do you know of which presume to teach people to create art?
A formal education in photography can do a number of things. It can teach you technique. Technique is an important process of doing your work, be it photograms, wet plate, digital artistry or whatever. A formal education can also teach you art history and the history of photography. An understanding of the important movements in photography and the arts can help to inform your work and put it in the context of history as well as contemporary times. A formal education in the arts can also provide you with contemporary issues facing photography, something that can be infused into your work and give it depth. It can connect you to the art community, to gallery representation and curators, to working artists and lecturers, to gallery owners and agents and a host of other people.
Now, if you think that professors are telling students what to do in terms of art, you're mistaken. The education provides the ground to build upon. Sometimes students dot have the ideas and the build something weak. Other times they build things that are complex. Some are able to build things that are aesthetically beautiful. A relative handful will create things which are complex and beautiful. The school provides a foundation and a prompt. There's some silly notion floating around (typically from people who have never even been to an art school or to a shitty one) that art schools presume to teach someone without talent to make art. That's ridiculous. So is the idea that art can only be created outside of an educational environment.
Pratt. RISD. Yale. UCLA. These are all schools that are successfully producing artists who get work, recognition, gallery representation and exhibitions. That is an empirical fact.
Most of the artist quotes from the centuries which are used in arguments against formal education in the arts are neutral as it relates to such an education. Often made by successful artists who received an educated in the arts and certainly weren't against it…
I attended an arts high school (including composition classes at Yale, yes for free) and studied music at two of the best universities in the country. When I decided to pursue photography, I also decided to seek an education there as well.
It is about so much more than just learning fundamentals of craft. Honestly, those who need that level of instruction are pretty much doomed to be second string at best as the real talent coming in already have that aspect of their game down.
And while a quality education may not make you smarter or more talented, it will allow you to do much, much more with what you have at a far quicker pace.
It all depends on the quality you aspire to and how much work you're willing to put in. I knew some immensely talented people (truly gifted) who never amounted to anything because they were slackers. I knew others who had much less in the way of natural ability, who worked their asses off to become quite well regarded in their fields.
Pat Berrett wrote: In addition to running a full time studio and problem solving all day, I teach.
I have been teaching for the past 20 years and find that student questions reveal the gaps in my knowledge about both the technical aspects of photography and the aesthetic side.
A simple question about where ideas come from or why certain compositions work better than others can lead to great insight.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
― St. Francis of Assisi
That is a misattributted quote, and due to my knowledge of Catholic saints, their depiction in art, and late medieval art and, the quattrocento period, which saw the rise of the artist, that was easy to spot.
So, when you teach your next class or whenever you quote this, just remember this:
"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
"This quote was actually composed by Louis Nizer, and published in his book, Between You and Me (1948)"
I got my AA in photo in 2001 and BFA in 2006. Stuff I felt like learning more about, like framing and gear, I got jobs in a frame shop and gear rental house. I listen to podcssts and currently swatch the Kelby training workshops, go to photo conferences, attend museum stuff when I can. I also teach which in turn teaches me. Oh, stuff like PDN and Aperture are helpful.
I just practice my art and experiment with the image making that interests me. I was an art major in college, (many years ago), but discovered that there was a LOT more to learn than the teachers were able, (or willing) to teach us. (I believe I saw jealousy of their students in them). I also discovered that I could learn more about composition from a small book, ("Composition in Art"), than was available in beginning and advanced composition in school.
When my brother went to Kauai to live after high school, he left me a Minolta srt101, and some verbal instructions how to use it. At first, I used it only to make paintings from, but many years later, I discovered that photography could be as free, creative, and unlimited as acrylic on canvas, especially with Photoshop as a tool, when it was created.
I developed my own vision, and had to learn the tools to achieve that vision. At age 61, I consider myself to still be a student.