Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Having fun with Photography


Photography is a tough business because the competition is fierce and the critics are merciless. Sure, you think you have an awesome photo, one that the pros are sure to praise, so you decide to put it up on the web at a place like photosig.com, 1x.com or flickr to get that praise that you know is coming to you. After all, this is THE ONE, the shot that is going to make you respected by other photographers.

You know what I'm talking about, and of course you know what really happens. Your beloved photo that you are so proud of, that your mamma says is the best she's ever seen, and your significant other says you should send to the top magazines, gets ripped to shreds. Your told things like "what's that object coming out of her head", "it looks over saturated", "it looks oversharpened", "it's too dark", "it's too soft", "it's too grainy", "have you ever heard of the rule of thirds", and on and on and on. By the time you are done reading the comments you are so dejected that you are ready to sell your gear and give up even point and shoot photography. However, I'm here to tell you that you are not alone and you shouldn't give up, because remember who your most important critic is - it's you!


Enjoy your photography, and really look around at what is being published. I'm sure you'll notice that there are tons of post cards, plenty of brochures, and even a few high-end magazine shots that have the same problems your photos are accused of having. However, you just haven't got your lucky break yet, so hang in there and keep shooting. Try to find a good outlet to share your work, and enjoy the praise of friends and family. Let it motivate and inspire you, but also take your medicine and try to listen to what the critics tell you because they just might be a little bit right. If you use the feedback to improve, then you just might end up becoming a better photographer and turn your hobby into a career.

Why am I writing this? Well because every shot featured in this article contains shots I am personally very proud of, yet everyone has been bashed with some pretty harsh feedback. Sure, some of them got some great praise too, but that's not the ones you remember because it's the tough feedback that really hits where it hurts, but I've gotten a lot of that over the last year and half I've been shooting with a DSLR.

Still not convinced? Well, then spend a little time reading books like these and applying the knowledge and perhaps you'll save yourself some of the harshest feedback:

Oh, and do yourself a favor - stay away from stock photography services - they are crazy brutal! :-)


Happy shooting - Ron!

UPDATE: Here’s a parody on how some world famous photographers would fair if they had to get their work reviewed by critics today.

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Anonymous said...

Amen to that, Ron!

I've been down that road so many times that I did give up, on submitting to photosig, especially.

Now, I only care about the photographers I know and whose opinions I value.

Of course, the one thing I learned from my time on photsig was to have a thick skin. Too many times, I let people's feedback get to me and I took everything so personally.

Now when I get simplified feedback like "it's oversaturated" (which is really just a matter of opinion in most cases), I read that as "They noticed the saturation." And then I critically evaluate my choices on that matter along the lines of "Did I intentionally over-saturate it for effect?", "What was I trying to convey when I picked that amount of saturation", etc.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ron,

For the past few years I've been entering images in our state fair's contest. This year, I didn't make the cut and one of the images I was very proud of.

While I tend to be very critical of my work and put a lot of effort in to improve it, it amazes me how these things are judged. This year's best in show is a picture of a fire truck in a parking lot. No fire, no firemen, no story, just a 3/4 shot of a ladder truck sitting in a parking lot with the sky totally blown out.

While I have to congratulate that photographer for winning, it just reinforces one important point...the only critic that matters is you.