Let me say first for those who are too lazy to read through my entire wordy rant that this article is to encourage non-professional photographers to make tutorials and share with others the photographic knowledge that we have acquired through our experience and experimentation.
I do not consider knowledge itself to be considered a luxury. Or do I consider the ability to attain knowledge to be a luxury. I see both of these as simple fundamental rights of man; to go forth and educate himself in the pursuit of knowledge. However, I do consider the ability to openly share knowledge as a luxury but a luxury not for the masses but for the individual holding the knowledge. Allow me to explain why.
Let us use as our example what is most relevant to this art site and what I am most artistically familiar with: Photography. I am by no means a professional photographer. By professional photography I mean that my main income does not rely on photographic services and such. And as a non-professional photography, I consider myself to possess the luxury that is the ability to share all my knowledge relating to photography without restraint.
Of course one can argue that professional photographers share their knowledge relating to photography as well. Professional photographers hold workshops for the sole purpose of sharing their knowledge but generally for a price. For the sole purpose of distinction, I will refer to the sharing of knowledge with a price tag as simply the commercialization of knowledge.
Awhile ago I stumbled across one professional photographer who had a resources section on his website. I planned on reorganizing the resources section of my personal website so I of course wanted to see how he had organized his. While the professional photographer's resource section was conveniently organized, something about it was odd. How to set up for this type of lighting - $29.99. How to set up for that type of photography - $59.99. Photoshop actions - $19.99. GIMP scripts - $9.99. Just pages and pages of hoarded and commercialized knowledge.
By no means do I claim that all professional photographers attempt to hoard knowledge. I've ran into my fair share of non-professional photographers who, when asked how they achieved a certain effect, simple say that "it's a secret." By no means do I claim that all professional photographers attempt to commercialize knowledge. But I do see a lot more professional photographers than non-professional photographers attempting to commercialize on whatever photographic techniques they've learned.
And yet by no means do I or can I criticize professional photographers for doing this. Since photography is their livelihood, shouldn't they be entitled to profit from whatever efforts they have put into their photography? Time on the job is money. So their time dealing with photography is money. If they were to just hand out their lighting setups free of charge, they'd essentially be losing money and financially handicapping themselves and their families. So I could either spend days learning about lighting on my own through experimentation, getting ever closer to the lighting effect achieved by the professional photographer or I could pay the $29.99 for the professional photographer's lighting setup. Thus the ultimate choice lies with me and my evaluation of the worth of my time and the professional photographer's time.
In contrast, as a non-professional photographer, photography is not my livelihood; it's just a hobby. My time dealing with photography is essentially free of commercial incentives. If I were to just hand out my lighting setups free of charge, I'd first and foremost be saving someone else time so that they don't have to figure it out themselves through experimentation. I'd lose no money since I would not be profiting significantly from such things anyway. All I would lose is perhaps the selfish and egotistical assumption that I am the exclusive possessor of such knowledge, which in my opinion is an insignificant personal lose for a comparably larger communal gain. Thus I, as a non-professional photographer, hold the luxury that is the ability to share whatever knowledge I may have concerning my hobby.
So to all those non-professional, amateur, hobbiest photographers out there: The luxury that is the ability to share knowledge is yours. Use it. Apply it. Make the best out of it.
Here are some lovely photography tutorials found on dA:
And much more in the photography resources/tutorials section.
And more links to other sites dedicating to sharing photographic knowledge:
o diy create your own bokeh
o portable affordable reflector
o turkey pan beauty dish
o How to make a fish eye lens for a Nikon D90
o Studiolight with softbox on a Tripod
o Macro Tilt Lens
o Plus much more artisan crafts and non-photography related projects
My site JFotography
o How to set up for bubbly photos
o How to take self portraits
o How to give your photos a warm vintage feel
I shall conclude with the disclaimer that I would generally post such an opinionated rant as a personal journal. But I felt this to be something very important to me and perhaps even important in general, so I will attempt to say it to a broader audience. I do not expect everyone to agree with me. I encourage you to disagree with me and provide personal accounts of counterexamples. I've spoken mainly about photography simply because I do not know as much about other art forms and art industries so please share your experiences and opinions if you do happen to know about other art forms and art industries. But know that I am entitled to my opinions/conjectures, perspectives/prejudices and I will do the same for you.
PS: This article was actually inspired by a coworker who didn't want to present her research at an international computational sciences convention for fear that someone would take her idea prior to its publication. While the analogy between research and photography does not completely hold, there are some striking similarities. As an aspiring (professional) research, I am aware of the self induced pressures to hoard certain knowledge and details pertaining to my research.