Originally Posted by hepcat
As a follow up to my original post, I would liken photo printing to playing a musical instrument. The basics are pretty easy to learn. Then you practice for consistency of tone and technique. That practice takes a long time for most folks... and a LOT of practice. Once you've achieved consistency of tone and technique, then you can begin to develop nuance and subsequently, style.
One summer I shot on average 150 rolls of film per month (120 and 135) and somehow was able to process all that film monthly in weekend long marathon developing sessions. This concentration was not sustainable, but each tank of either four 120 rolls or eight 35mm rolls allowed me to critically evaluate my entire development process.
In a way it was like the "woodshedding" that musicians do. I also loaded up the truck when close dated Acros was only $1.89 a roll in 135, and at Adorama for $3.69 a roll in 120. I bought 700 rolls of Arista Premium when it was $2.89 a roll.
John mentioned to me that one of the best tools is a critical eye, and I would say that ones own prints and negatives can teach oneself a lot. The quote from that Magnum photographer is very valid. The key here is to develop a critical eye. I find that keeping a logbook helps with the forensics when I evaluate my negatives and prints. It is a journal that gathers information, much useless, but sometimes very valuable to connect the dots.