So a national photographer Ken Rockwell has posted on his website how to F.A.R.T. And I have enjoyed teaching my students how to fart for the past couple of years. It is much easier than Barnbaum's expression of the same which while more accurate and much better written, is not as easy for the young to connect with. Needless to say, they get both, but the FART is what they talk about.
The expression of passion towards a subject being the first important part to taking great photographs. Without this passion we are left without the internal motivation for personal expression. Rockwell describes this accurately as 'feel', The F in FART. The second part is both the most difficult, and the most important, the notion of internal exploration as to the reasons behind the feeling. It is this part that makes us buy the camera gear, that makes us get the new lens or the next piece of equipment. Sometimes we don't realize it, but it is there. For the professional, this can be the feeling to feed ones family, but there is a personal need about it that keeps us looking to make more photographs.
While the Feel part is important, as it helps us understand what we will point our camera at, it is the 'ART' part that helps us understand what our photos will look like. I think Rockwell has a great idea, but really it should be Feel ART instead of FART.
ART starts with the 'ASK' part. Asking oneself what, and why we have that passion. While this may seem trivial, this inward exploration is not only important, it is crucial. Without asking and answering this question, we can't offer the best expression of our subject. Essentially, we are visual communicators. We communicate, not in word, or song, or poem, but in the visual. without understanding what we want to communicate, we can't. Just as in the written or spoken word, if we don't know what to say, whatever we say, just won't make sense. The ASK part is where we decide what is important to include, and just as importantly what is important to exclude. This is the visualize part where you get to decide how you will communicate your feeling. This is by far the most difficult part of any creative endeavor. This is where the concept starts to take shape, and the definition of how the image will look starts to become real.
As a processional, I ask my customer what is important for me to convey. What is the outcome of my work? What do they want to show? to say? to reveal, sell, motivate or move the viewer. Sometimes it is obvious, I am never asked to photograph a wedding to show how much of a 'bridezilla' the bride is :-) but I could.
The R in ART is Refine, Revise or Recompose. Refine the idea, getting rid of what doesn't belong, adding the missing element. Refining the definitions and the expectations to whatever answers you came up to when you asked yourself that what and why and how. Often we find that our gut was wrong, that our ideas are not working in the way we had hoped and this gives us the opportunity to revisit and modify our ideas. Barnbaum calls this the visualization. how is what we envision coming out, what will it look like on the page, will it convey our message or ideas. He askses us to 'compost' or to put together our composition which gives us the freedom to revise as needed.
professionally, If I have done my job, it should show. If I am supposed to make a portrait of a banker that makes him look warm and inviting like he wants to be your best friend, and I make him look like the all powerful have your life in my hands no nonsense type of guy than I need to rethink, refine and revise what i am doing.
T is simply Take, Hit that shutter button, Make the exposure. Commit to our vision. But it doesn't end there. any good art is never really finished, just abandoned, and we as photographers are lucky enough, we can make variations as easily or easier than any other art. It is time to go back to A. Ask, and this time ask ourselves if our vision has been completed. Have we expressed what we need to, have we captured the moment, have we fulfilled our desire. How could it be better, what more do we need to say, what have we missed. Those answers allow us to Revise and Take more continuing the process of ART.
While l love the smile I get when i ask how the 'farting' went, I enjoy the thought of Feel ART much better, because any good art gets felt, no matter what kind of art, if it is good, it should give us a rise to action at least to our emotions.