Understanding what you are shooting is always more important than how you are shooting. Anyone can learn….ok…maybe not everyone….but potentially everyone can be taught mechanical skills, because realistically…what is a camera: a light tight box with a hole in it. Anything beyond this understanding makes you a technician. Knowing what’s in front of you makes you a photographer.
Some of the most well known and respected images wouldn’t make it past an entry level critique….taken out of the context and content of the image. I can give samples of some early iconic images that are just poorly shot….but we have them. And they wouldn’t portray “the moment” at all better if the were tack sharp.
Knowing why you are shooting should always outweigh technical skills. Having both is ideal. And having technical skills that have been trained or practiced enough to be intuitive….best scenario. But if you don’t know why the woman with her kids in her lap is important….or why the modern tractor parked in front of an abandoned farm house has any weight…..or why a black family is comfortable having a picnic at an internment is important….no matter how well you shoot the photo ….there’s no story.
Favourite quote maybe:
Best camera to shoot with is the camera you have with you.
I don’t have a favourite quote for knowing your subject, none I can think of right now.