He beautifully explained the use of this question with a story of his cousin James having the habit to take things apart to see their inner workings. A habit from which James eventually learned how to rebuilt and fix anything. James started off without knowing how he would be able to put the thing back together. He just started and learned along the way.
The same can be done with almost every type of creative work we do. I’m using “creative” in a large sense here, it can for example be taking pictures, building a new product, or writing a scientific article.
Taking it apart becomes asking yourself questions about it. Any question that is related to the impact something has or that aims at the creation process will teach you more about the product.
“What makes the image work?” invites you to reflect on the impact that image has on you.
“Who is it for?” teaches you to see the audience of a product.
“Why did the photographer make those choices and not others?” leads you to think about the construction of the image.
These questions work well if you give yourself permission to not know what the answers were when the product was created. In this learning context, it only matters to the creator what he imagined or did. What he did is one of many reference points.
What matters is your own answer to the question you are asking. That’s where your learning starts.
The first time you’ll be asking yourself this question, you’ll notice that it feels difficult, somewhat overwhelming. Keep asking them.
Practice is key.
Chose the question most interesting to you, all open the door to deeper understanding.
I’m by no means an expert when it comes to taking pictures. But there is something I’ve learned since I started to regularly roam my environment and take pictures of it. Looking at the pictures, selecting the ones I’ll keep, or post teaches me just as much about taking the pictures than actually taking the pictures does.