Camera Position 63 : Beauty and Background

What is an “arts background”? Whether we know it or not, I think we all have one. Having a background in creativity is about synthesizing things that we already know and combining them with new things that we learn to come up with wholly new ideas.

Venice, Sunrise - Photograph by Jeff Curto

Venice, Sunrise – Photograph by Jeff Curto
(click for a larger view)

10 thoughts on “Camera Position 63 : Beauty and Background”

  1. Welcome back Jeff – I’ve really missed your stimulating presentations & this one certainly didn’t disappoint. The idea of “Beauty in Photography” is one to which many of us aspire, but find it hard to pin-down. For me, your images of hands on stone do this so well & are a real treat to the eyes and to the imagination.

    Please keep coming with this kind of material as it’s so enthusing.

    Thanks again for your hard work on the pcasts.

    Best wishes


  2. Thanks, Roger…

    It’s been a wild-and-wooly winter and spring for me… thanks for hangin’ in while I was away.

    Thanks, too, for the kind words about the work. I sure do love doing it!


  3. Jeff – I’m a new listener (found you via the Photocast Network). I want to thank you for putting together such great material. Along with some wonderful photos which make me want to take a trip to Italy.

    I’m not “artistically inclined” being far too technical and left brained. But I acquired a point and shoot digital camera, started taking some pictures for posting on my blog, whereupon I promptly ran across the “old eyes” problem – in that I can’t see the darned LCD at all clearly. In other words I point, frame the picture I want to take, try to let it auto focus, then shoot and pray – with varying results.

    This led me to looking into DSLR’s – which appear to have tiny viewfinders until one gets to the higher end cameras… this led me to looking into “How” cameras worked, some of which I do remember from the days of using our old Pentax K1000, (as I research the type of camera I want to buy – haven’t got it yet). Which led me to the realization that I wasn’t even thinking about the picture itself! (I get so caught up in the technical part of it – I forget the end product)

    So (after all that wordiness) I am very happy to have found your site, I’m downloading some of the older podcasts – and only just today heard the “Zone” podcasts. I’m looking forward to checking out the pdf’s that you have so kindly provided. I like the concept in this podcast about relating what is read with the visuals to create your own concept which stays with you. This works well in my type of thinking

    I will never be an artist – but, if I’m going to take photographs, I would at least like it to be worth the trouble when I finally get to the finished photo. I have lots of things to learn so it should be many fun hours.

  4. Hi, Teresa;

    “Never Say Never.”


    I think you have to assume that you’ll be the best photographer you can be. If art ends up happening, so much the better. I think, frankly, that art happens when people put passion for subject together with the technical & visual expertise to express that passion in a way that it becomes universal.

    Think about how, when you tell a story to a friend about something that happened to you that you were just really interested in… it’s a great story and the friend laughs and you laugh… it all comes together. If you think about how you told the story, it’s not that the story is all that carefully planned… it’s about *how* you told it and the fact that you were *really* engaged in telling it. It brings your background together with your interest in communicating that message.

    It’s art.

    Keep shooting!


  5. Hi Jeff – really enjoyed this particular podcast and it struck a chord with me. I’ve had a very engineering focused background, 3 degrees all in electronics and related areas. Not much of any artistic education after about the age of 16. Ever since picking up a camera I’ve been struggling to catch up.

    I found your own history of photography lectures about the most useful resource that I’ve come across in the lat 8 years or so of looking. So thanks for that. I’d love to find something similar that explored the broader scope of the arts, rather than just photographically focused – do you have any suggestions for something in that direction?

    I’ve looked for adult education opportunities around my local area and haven’t had much luck

    Also I was moved to blog about your post and share some more thoughts, here:

  6. Gordon;

    Thanks for your post and for your blog piece about this. I think it’s an interesting issue and certainly appears to have “struck a chord” with others, based on the comments here and the emails I’ve gotten.

    For that “broader arts education,” I don’t know what to suggest, really, other than reading and doing your own thinking (and perhaps writing) on the ideas that you encounter.

    I see that the Whitney:


    and the Metropolitan:

    All have podcasts… they might be useful in a variety of ways.

    I have had some really amazingly wonderful experiences with the lectures presented by the TED conference people at TED Talks:

    Learning, thinking, writing and making… it’s all part of the same process, I think!


  7. Jeff,

    Thank you for these two podcasts, in which you managed to sum up much of what I feel is important in photography.

    The world is awash with boring, ugly, and contrived images. Amongst all this noise it’s always the photograph which reveals a new and beautiful way of seeing something or someone that enriches my life. These photos are often easy to miss, like a songbird in a city street, but they are worth searching for.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.


  8. Hi, Ian;

    Thanks for your comment… I really appreciate it! Boring is bad! Ugly is worse! Boring and ugly… let’s not go there….


    Thanks again…


  9. Your comment about boring and ugly makes me think of elie Wiesel (who was freed from Buchenwald concentration camp on this day in 1945 who when on to write more than 50 book. In 1986, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.) He said: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Let us all fight Indifference. Surely something your podcasts help us do.

Comments are closed.