I read a comment from another photographer that struck me as a bit close-minded earlier today, and I wondered: will I be that biased when I've been shooting for 40 years?
Now, this person is an amazing photographer in a genre on the opposite side of the "portrait" spectrum from what I choose to shoot. The photographer has won awards, been published in national magazines, and, frankly, has some jaw-dropping work I can only wish to achieve many decades down the line. I, on the other hand, am a n00b. I recognize that we look at the work we do completely differently, and our approaches to photography as a practice are likely nowhere near similar.
This photographer has been shooting for more than 40 years. Me: 3 years.
There's no question who the better photographer is.
But when this amazing photographer refuses to even look at another genre of photography, claiming they have nothing to learn from it, I am stunned a moment into silence. Could that be true?
I'm certain it's because I'm new that this way of thinking abhors me a little. Then again, I've always been a knowledge hound and am constantly looking for new things to learn, so maybe it's just a personality trait totally unrelated to photography. In my world, I can't imagine turning away from any source, no matter how far-fetched it is from what I may like or choose to shoot, just because I don't like shooting it. I would never think another person's work has nothing to teach me.
For example, I will never be a macro bug photographer. I hate bugs. Vehemently. Scratch-my-arms-to-ribbons-at-the-merest-hint-of-buggy-feet hate. But I still learned from it. I employ the "hold your breath and sway" focusing technique, and it's something I never would have learned if I hadn't viewed macro photographers' work and read about how they achieved them. I'm still never going to shoot bugs, but I'm grateful there are people who do because I have things I can learn from them.
The potential for lost inspiration by refusing to view an entire genre of photography also saddens me. Who cares if you don't shoot it? Does that really mean you shouldn't look at it, either?
So, dear amazing-award-winning-experienced photographer, I will continue to admire and learn from your work. But your bias I refuse to take as a life lesson.