Photography is both art and science. As an art, it expresses a personal vision. As a science, it relies on technology. This double nature is not unique to photography. Every kind of creative expression such as music, dance or painting has both purely artistic side and a more scientific or technological side as well. For example, paints are kind of technology, and using them well involves considerable amount of technical skill. The main difference between photography and more traditional visual arts, such as painting, is the complexity of its technology. In any of the arts, the first step towards excellence is mastering technique - learning to use a specific technology skillfully and effectively. With regard to photography, this means that you must learn to control the camera and darkroom equipment, rather than letting them control you. No artist, however creative, can produce a masterpiece without a sound basis in technique. On the other hand, no amount of technical skill can make up for a lack of artistic vision. Both of them are essential. The goal of any artist is to use good technique creatively. Simply speaking, a camera is a machine that produces a two dimensional (flat) copy of a three dimensional scene. The process by which this is done may seem like magic. (In fact, when cameras were first introduced, many people all over the world thought that they were magic.) Fundamentally, however, there's no magic in the camera. It is just a box with a hole in it. You supply the magic. When you as the photographer, use a camera creatively, it changes from a simple and mechanical machine into an artist's tool. Instead of making random copies of things, it begins to say something about them. Here are some of the technical questions a photographer must answer to every photograph: How will the lighting affect the clarity and mood of the photograph? How fast should the shutter speed be? How large a lens opening should be used? What should be in focus? What belongs in the frame, and what does not? What lens should be used? All these factors influence each other, and they all affect the final photograph. A photograph is "successful" in the technical sense when these factors all work well together and are combined with correct darkroom procedures. When a creative composition is added, the photograph becomes aesthetically successfully as well. You must learn how to control each of these factors to achieve the effect you want. But it will take time. As you may already know, it's often hard to keep all of them in mind every time you take a picture.