When I was in early grade school (later 50's) and we lived in Birmingham Michigan, my mother would purchase her gas at the corner station. The owner, a man named Johnny, would always greet her by name, fill the car, and check the oil. I am not sure I consider today's self-serve stations as progress-most notably when I am standing out in sub zero temps watching those numbers go round so slowly and freezing my ass off.
Having taught in higher education for a number of decades, I have always owned an interest into which, if any, aspects of creativity can be taught, versus the notion that it is somehow an inherent trait that unfolds on it's own, given the right conditions. Dr. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, has shown how students who perform her right brain (our abstract creative side) exercises can learn to draw remarkably well. I often wonder if the same or similar outcomes could happen with the ability to see what already exists, but capture some aspect of the subject that makes it appealing and perhaps, fascinating to the viewer.
I am inclined to think that this ability to see what others do not, is a key to photograph making success. In the field it is exemplified by knowing when and what not to photograph. Poor subjects, uninteresting light, a subject that cannot, due to physical constraints, be isolated from the intrusion of competing stimuli-all of these variables somehow need to keep one's finger from plunging the shutter release. Large format photographers, perhaps initially limited by both the having just a few film holders, as well as the expense of materials, learn by necessity to be in the present moment and pay attention-working slowly. I have been watching YouTube videos by a younger large format adventure photographer named Ben Horne, who very much exemplifies this notion of patience. Mr, Horne might backpack in Mt. Zion National Park for a week, carrying 120 lbs of 8x10 equipment and camping gear, only to take two to four exposures. He will scout for an entire day or two studying potential subjects for the right light, wind (or I should say lack thereof), and cloud cover. He will even set up all of the 8x10 gear just to see things on the ground glass during this evaluation process. Reminds me very much of Fred Picker, only with a much nicer personality :-)
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
― Vincent van Gogh