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For You, is Photography more like Jazz or Cupcakes?

For You, is Photography more like Jazz or Cupcakes?

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A TechTock reader poll.

By Jack Howard

July 16, 2010

Like photography, baking and music both also require a degree of technical and aesthetic know-how. But which metaphor would you use to describe your photography style?

When it comes to your photography, are you a baker or a jazz musician? Follow along here, if you will. Both of these other activities require both technical and aesthetic understandings and appreciations on the part of the practitioner.

But improv jazz is very different than baking. Which might go without saying, for many people. But think about which of these other activities you'd use to most closely represent your feelings about the technical and aesthetic skills necessary for photography.

  • Baking is very formulaic. You must measure the ingredients carefully and heat your oven evenly and accurately to ensure the proper rise in the dough as your cupcakes cook. You can't really just "wing it" and eyeball your proportions of baking powder and flour and hope for the best with your oven temp.


  • Improv jazz musicians must have technical mastery of their instrument, and be able to get creative within the musical structure, but it is much more fluid and freeform and allows for much more of a departure from the hard meter of say, a marching band tune. There's not really a "wrong" note in a saxophone solo, but there are solos that are much more enjoyable than others.


So when it comes to your own photography, do you see yourself more as a jazz musician? Are the technical know-how and the rules of exposure and composition simply a jumping-off point for your creativity? Are you willing to take risks, knowing that you might very well miss a easy shot trying for something a little off the wall?

Or are you more of a baker? Do you stick to the tried-and-true formulas that work for you? Does having a solid understanding of the technical and aesthetic skills of photography mean you'll be sure to get a good shot because you stick to tried and true rules?

Me, I'd describe myself more on the jazzy side of things.

For me, understanding the technicals and science behind photography–while rewarding and fascinating in many ways–has always been secondary to being able to absorb, interpret, and extrapolate upon in order to capture or create the moment. Take, for example, this recent macro time lapse experiment involving melting ice and watercolor paint. The tools and technical know-how necessary are simply a means to an end. I have shot gigabytes upon gigabytes of experimental frames working on new techniques, and trying out new things. Sometimes they flop and never see the light of day, but other times, they are somewhat successful. But I also know many very successful shooters who I think are much more bakers. And that's totally cool, too. Different strokes for different folks, as the old saying goes.


Vote in our poll and leave your comments: Is your photography more like baking cupcakes or improv jazz?



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