criticism

Putting Yourself Out There - Showing Your Work

For me this was one of my biggest struggles when I was first starting out as a photographer and believe me it was an ongoing inner battle, I was nervous!  What will other people think of my work? Will they say it sucks? Will they like it?

I was THAT guy who would only show my work to friends and family and of course the feedback was always good, which in hindsight was more of a hindrance than help when I look back on it now.  Showing your work to your family and friends is one thing, they are not going to tell you your work sucks are they? They are going to say the things they think you want to hear which doesn’t benefit you in any way, shape or form.

It’s very tough to put yourself out there, seemingly on display and sharing your work with a bunch of strangers. You feel vulnerable, naked and alone!  After all, this is something you created from scratch you put your heart and soul into this. Everybody is a critic, everyone has something to say. It takes a lot of courage. You are worried about being judged, what will everyone say about you’re work, I get it! You are going to get deflated and knocked down but you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and grab your camera and make more photographs.

You have to reach way down within and find the courage to get your work seen.  Get as many eyes on it as possible!  That way you find out what you need to work on and know which areas you need to improve.  There will always be areas you can improve on even after years of being a photographer and just as in regular life you are NEVER EVER finished learning.

One of my past photography teachers reached out to me recently and we were talking and he said: “…as artists, we thrive on encouragement. It's like the tide, when it's in it feels good and when it’s out, it can be damn lonely!” His words rang in my head for days afterwards. This really struck a chord in me and if you are reading this right now, you know who you are. Thank you for all your words of encouragement as of late, they mean a lot to me.

So people don’t give up!  Keep consistently putting your work out there. Yes, it is definitely not an easy thing to do but it IS necessary!

 

Photo courtesy of Linda Langerak

Beauty and Editing Practices in Photography

In keeping with a similar theme to my last blog post I want to touch on a subject in this one that seems to be garnering a lot of negative attention as of late. There seems to be quite an uproar among photographers and people alike with regards to how images are being edited for publication in beauty magazines and advertising.
There seems to be an abundance of very poorly edited images being published in magazines and ads in order to create the illusion of the “perfect body” or flawless beauty. I have personally seen some incredibly poor editing of images which are actually getting published in all forms of media. It makes me wonder; who is proofing and approving this work before it gets published? Are they fucking blind? These mistakes, for lack of a better word, couldn’t be more blatant when you look at the image(s). It’s a completely inaccurate representation of the model and utterly inappropriate.
I saw an article about an ad for Victoria’s Secret the other day and it was painfully obvious that the image had been touched up. Apparently this seems to be an ongoing issue for the lingerie company with their Photoshop happy editors. This cannot be helping their company image. I know Victoria’s Secret is not the only company where this subject has been the topic of discussion and criticism but this bone of contention is becoming more and more prevalent in the “beauty” industry.
Not only does this reflect poorly upon the photography industry but more importantly these retouched images are causing a whole other host of problems among our female youth. These photos are sending the wrong message to the young girls/women who are consuming the content. The message being, “it’s in to be thin”. This is not a healthy message to be sending to our younger generation but I digress as this is a whole other topic for a completely separate blog post.

 

Image courtesy of community.babycenter.com

Art Critiquing - A Necessary Evil

At the seminar I attended last week Scott Kelby touched on the subject of having your work critiqued. He said that if you want honest feedback you need to have your work looked at by people other than friends and family. He mentioned there was a friend of his that was always going on about photography and his gear and how he was shooting this and that, so he figured man this guy must be pretty good. It turns out, that he was just horrible but nobody close to him, meaning his friends or family would tell him this for fear it would really hurt him. So this begs the question, if you want an honest opinion of your work, do you need to go to an outside source?

I have heard many photographers say your family and friends will never tell you the truth or give you honest feedback about your work. I would have to say and this is just my opinion but I don’t totally agree with this statement.

I don’t think this is naivety on my part, I just believe I have completely honest, upfront, no bullshit friends, family and spouse in my corner. They will tell me if they think something doesn’t look good or it’s not working for them. I am sure this isn’t the case with everyone because some people just wouldn’t want to hurt people’s feelings or crush their goals and dreams by telling them they don’t really have any raw talent or the eye to make it as an artist. How hard would it be to tell someone they should just sell their gear and try something different as a career choice?

If you think about it though, are we doing more harm than good by not being totally honest? Just because it is the craft they chose, does it mean they are absolutely good at it? I say you are giving them false hope by doing this. Be honest and open, isn’t that what friends and family are for? You can tell someone their work isn’t good enough without being mean or cruel. It’s called constructive criticism! They may not want to hear it but isn’t it better coming from friends and family? Or is it better coming from strangers?

Image courtesy of blog art21.org