Strange thought right? So what exactly am I asking here?
Recently had a great conversation thread with some folks on Twitter that eventually got into the subject of comments and criticisms (C&C).
The subject of comments and criticisms plays a relatively important role for anyone who considers themselves a photographer (professional, amateur or hobbyist). We share our creative vision with the world in our photography, but how do we grow? How do we learn new techniques or skills that take our creative vision to the next level??
Comments & criticisms, plain and simple.
Whether you participate in some photography forum, sharing on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, on your website where viewers can leave comments or if you have a physical gallery, interacting with visitors to get feedback on what they like or dislike, we all need this feedback as a means to understand what everyone else sees in our imagery!
The process of getting feedback is so important to us, yet when we do get a criticism, our skin suddenly gets very thin and we are not happy with what we are told.
Is this rejection (a feeling that nobody likes and generally we avoid rejection)? No, in my opinion, criticisms are not rejection. Criticisms are tools we, as photographers should seek out to improve our craft, to fine tune our creative vision, to change up what we have been doing that we may have thought was working, but in reality, is detracting from the overall goal and vision!
Participating in photography forums where you share your imagery can definitely have a negative side to it with some people who live a negative lifestyle and are not capable of providing reasonable criticism. Those people actually serve you better than you may realize; they are on the far edge of the critique spectrum, but will tell you everything they see that they do not like.
When you encounter someone like that, let their negativity roll off like water on a ducks back and read between the lines, gathering the true feedback so that you can better your own vision!
Will you have a day where one of those negative people gets your goat? Absolutely. Will you get pissed off? Depends on how you wish to live your life and how much you want to take that persons energy and consume it (thus taking on all of their negative energy)!!
My personal philosophy is to live a positive lifestyle and convert all of the negative energy pushed my direction into positive energy that I can use to become an even better person, photographer, friend, son, brother, etc.
When I do encounter the negative people on forums or other social media, I will usually just close out the browser or social media application and step away for a few hours. Let the negative energy deflate and when I come back, there will usually be more positive energy in the whole conversation than there is negative energy! From that, I can then gather the feedback “I” need to look at the image(s) and if needed, return to post-processing and see if I can make any improvements there. If the feedback is such that I need to change how I compose an image, then I will create a list of notes that I refer to from photo shoot preparation.
So how does all of this return us to the blog subject?
Some of us choose photography, either as a hobby or as something we aspire to do for a living. Some photographers truly have a gift for a creative eye, while others are constantly working at learning how to compose (regardless of photographic genre).
In my opinion, whether you have ‘the gift’ or are one that has to work for your vision, C&C is one of the most important tools in your bag, yet far too often, we don’t use the knowledge to our benefit! Seek out comments and criticisms whenever you can. If you get feedback that strikes a chord with you, then you have the knowledge to improve your craft!