Many people who have never taken up either painting or drawing and know absolutely nothing about either one, imagined that the discoveries of Niepce and Daguerre would enable just about anyone who could afford a darkroom with all the Daguerreian paraphernalia, including a how to brochure, to produce wonders.
They were mistaken. I am not saying there that one must be an expert at painting or drawing in order to become a good photographer, but what I am saying is that one must be an artist. You must have sensitivity to painting, understand its effect and composition. Those are crucial matters if you do not want to spend your life turning out, without realizing it, a lot of ridiculous pictures, and there are too many of those out there already.
To those who wish to become decent photographers and acquire those skills, if they do not yet have them, I would say this: Get acquainted with an elite painter, someone serious, ask him for his advice and then put it to good use.
Most photographers who do only portraits might think that it is not really necessary to know how to compose a scene in order to do something so simple. Well, those are precisely the ones I want to understand that being knowledgeable is essential, because, to me, nothing appears quite so difficult as to pose a model well and light him correctly, for the very reason that it seems so simple to do.
In the interest of photography and photographers I cannot urge amateurs enough to understand that photography is not a trade but an art and that, as a consequence, their feeling and their knowledge must be reflected in their works just as the feeling of a painter is reflected in his paintings.
In order to prove this point, one needs only who operate equally well and use the same techniques. Their finished products are all very different. Each one of them will have a distinctive style and it is almost as easy to recognize them as to tell a Delacroix from a Decamp or a Corot from a Troyon."