Photography Tip of the Day: Be True to Yourself

Ok, if you are a pro photographer this does not always apply.  Pros have to be true to themselves and the client.  It can be hard, and when in doubt the client wins.  Most amatuer photographers though are shooting for their own pleasure.  Most pros also shoot from time to time for their own pleasure.  Today’s post is about those who tell you your photographs suck, or that you should have done them differently, or that it just doesn’t look good. If their criticism is well meaning, listen to it, see if you can learn from it, then move on. 

Of course if it is meant to be a mean spirited put down just ignore it and move on.  Life is too short to worry about junk like that. 

If your photograph isn’t exactly what you wanted, listen to any comments and see if they can help you arrive at your vision. If it is what you wanted, then it is a part of you and that can’t be changed.  I truly believe that my best pictures are a part of my existence.  I created them, obviously with help from the camera manufacturer, various teachers, and my subject, but they are my expression.  I would hope another photographer looking at the same scene would take a different picture, at least slightly, because they are not me.  They do not see things the way I do. 

On the same note, be careful when you criticisize someone elses work.  Consider carefully before you say something about someones work.  If you can look at some of their other work and see if there is a trend there. See if you can spot a common thread.  See if you can try to see what they were thinking as they took the picture.  Only then should you make a comment. 

Now to answer your question, “What brought this on?”  I recently posted a picture on a website where other photographers can comment on your photograph.  A lot of time the critisism is very constructive and spot on.  Sometimes I ignore it, but it usually makes sense.  There was a comment about this photograph though that kind of set me off.  First, here is the photograph.  I posted it on here about a month and a half ago, so it may look a little familiar.

The comment that was made was that it was, “too bad you didn’t wait until later to shoot this, because the water was so dark and it fades almost to black at the bottom.”  Now the situation with this photograph is that I shot for about another 45 minutes after I took this, and I have about 6o images that are lighter than this one.  But you know what? I like the way the water fades to black at the bottom.  That is one of my favorite parts of this photo, and I really like it, so I am going to ignore that comment.  Did the comment bother me? Yes, for about 2 seconds, then I realized that her vision and mine were completely different. I can’t change that, so there is no use worrying about it.  The only thing that bothered me was that her comment did bother me for a moment.  I guess that it is human nature for us to want to be accepted, and she was not accepting a part of me, but I thought I had thicker skin than that. Apparently not.

And now a note on yesterdays post.  I read other blogs first thing in the morning and very rarely look at them the rest of the day.  On of the ones I read is Chase Jarvis. Always an excellent read, much better than my hacking about. Yesterday he made a post, before I posted mine, but I didn’t read his until today.It was titled”Is Inspiration Killing Creativity“.  After he posted that he commented on his own post, and here is his comment: 

“Whats the phrase – Theres nothing new only a different take on what already exists? I love the creative life, I could care less about failing or succeeding, the joy is in the journey for me.”

He summed up in a few words what my last paragraph was trying to say.  So go ahead, and take your own journey. I don’t know where you will end up, I don’t even know where I will end up, but I do know I will be happier when I get there.

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