Tonight I happened upon a rather interesting photograph.  Processed differently, it could have been a very beautiful photograph.  As it was, it was one of the most over-cooked photographs I’ve even seen.  In spite of this, for portions of the photo, I personally felt this worked, for other portions, it totally ruined it.

There were quite a few comments about the photograph, and while constructive, they weren’t well received.  This caused me to stop and ponder how I might best express the following thoughts…

I would like you, gentle reader, to consider this, praise without criticism is meaningless. Sincere criticism from a fellow artist is one of the greatest gifts one can receive. People that react in a hostile fashion to sincere and constructive criticism harm everyone, as they cause those who would give such gifts to be less likely to do so.  The fool rejects criticism and lashes out at those that offer it, yet the wise man meditates on it, that he may become wiser.

I’m unable to fault the photographer for his one comment, that was, that he liked it the way it was, and he wasn’t changing it.  As an artist, that’s his right.  The flip-side of this is that he failed to learn anything from the comments that were offered.

2 thoughts on “Criticism

  1. I have a very thin skin when it comes to criticism. If I post a image and I haven’t asked for help or a critique then it is an image I made that I am happy with. I don’t find myself really open to unsolicited critique.

    There is one man who used to give me cropping advice/critique every now and again. His comments were so well thought out, and stated in a way that were not hostile or judgmental that I found myself open and listening to him. I changed a few images because of his suggestions. I think he sees what I was going for and knows how to get me there. I think of him as a Teacher.

    To me Art is subjective and each one us have things that work, and don’t work for us. If you think my image can be better somehow I hope you go out and make your own version.

    You’ve known me awhile now. How many times have you seen me ask for help or critique? …still thinking? 🙂 Right not many! I don’t really learn best by getting critique.

    You on the other hand are very open to it, and it suits your learning style.

    • Deborah, I think it is important to differentiate between good criticism, and bad criticism. What you’re describing with the gentleman giving you good cropping advice is good criticism, and that’s what I had in mind with this post. Bad criticism is for the lack of a better word, bad.

      You are correct, this is our art, and we share it in the fashion that makes sense to us. Honestly I don’t think there is much of anything any of us can say about your photographs, other than to tell you to get a book done! I on the other-hand tend to push the boundaries at times, and sometimes it helps to have someone tell me when I’ve gone too far! With criticism, sometimes I think, how could I have not seen that. At other times, while I appreciate it, it goes against what I’m personally trying to accomplish, so I don’t let it influence me. Then there are the occasions where I seek it out, as I’m simply curious as to which version of an image I’m working on that people prefer, and why, or I’m looking for feedback on a new technique I’m playing with.

      In spite of how much I welcome criticism, I suspect you have a pretty good idea as to how often I offer it to others. It is not something I consider to be one of my talents, and I would rather offer none at all, that give bad criticism (remember there is an important distinction between criticism that tells you that something is bad, and bad criticism).

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