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What I’ve Learned from the Masters of Photography

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Dear friends,

In order to promote my new and upcoming LEARN FROM THE MASTERS ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP (Dec 11, 2021), I wanted to use this as an opportunity to reflect on my own photographic journey, and what I have personally learned from the masters of photography, and hopefully what you can learn too:


1. Every master once had their own master

This is the big thing — we look and fawn at the master photographers, and think they were always masters. For example, Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) studied as a student under Andre Lhote (painter). Thus if we study the history of the masters, we can learn that every master was once a student, and also copied the masters who came before them.

2. There is no ultimate truth in the masters

When studying the masters, the thing:

There is no ultimate and infallible truth when it comes to photography.

For example, you will always find one master to contradict another master. Thus the goal is this:

Study the masters who speak to you, and get a wide array of opinions, and choose the ones which resonate with you.

3. Every master had their own different life path and trajectory

Some masters approached photography early, others later. Some started off as painters, some started off as assistants, and others were simply self-taught. There is no consistency here.

For me the big takeaway is this:

No matter what your life situation, you can always find some benefit in it.

For example William Eggleston — the man lives in possibly one of the most uninteresting places. Yet he was able to harness that boredom to some sort of photographic productivity.

4. Why study the history?

Why study the history of street photography? For me the biggest benefit of studying the history of street photography is this:

You find out that a lot of the modern ‘trends’ were actually done in the past!

For example we all think that Bruce Gilden was the only one to have shot flash street photography, yet predecessors like WEEGEE were doing this far before.

5. I desire to become my own master

After all this soaking in the wisdom of the masters, I one day realized:

I must cut the umbilical chord, and become my own master.

The buddhist Zen practitioners call this ‘killing the buddha’, or ‘If you see the buddha walking across the street, you must kill him’.

In photography, we must kill our masters, which means:

Know the wisdom of others is simply a guide, not the ultimate end.


Learn From the Masters Online Photography Workshop (December 11, 2021)

If you desire to elevate your photographic wisdom and insight, I cordially invite you to my new and upcoming MASTERS ONLINE WORKSHOP (December 11, 2021). No matter how busy you are, or where in the world you are, you can make it!

Learn more and secure your spot >


MASTERS MOBILE Volume 1

Free lessons from the masters, distilled >

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Also read:

100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography

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PDF DIRECT DOWNLOAD >


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