Cole Thompson’s recent blog “Criticism, Praise, and Advice” was so compelling that I felt it important to share with you. I encourage one to read his aforementioned blog. It could be viewed with some controversy, and disagreement, but nonetheless it provides you the opportunity to stand up to your own photographic identity. One must believe in yourself and trust your vision that sets one apart from the rest of the competition.
VISION ALWAYS EVOLVING
Identifying your vision is not as easy as it sounds when one is a newbie to a particular genre of photography. For me it has been a four year journey with the last two years undertaking the challenge to bring my creations to a higher level. Have I found my vision, it’s evolving. But I have a much better grip on what I want to do with a certain image inside the digital darkroom. I am most at ease with and prefer B+W Fine Art Photography Long exposure Architecture, Seascapes, and Botanical Still Life.
CRITICISM, PRAISE, AND ADVICE
So lets take a peek at some of what Mr. Thompson is suggesting. When presenting your work to a number of different people you may end up with as many different opinions about your creation. Who should you listen to, other successful photographers, family, friends, curators, and art experts? Cole suggests,”You ignore all criticism, praise, and advice and listen to only yourself. Why? Because other people’s comments about your image reflects their tastes, their ideas, their vision. So no matter how well intentioned or how much of an expert they are, their advice is going to miss the mark when it comes to your vision.”
Cole further submits that harsh criticism can be damaging, it can also discourage you from reaching your potential. Conversely constructive criticism delivered in a kind gentle manner can mislead you and take you off track. That’s because others don’t know your vision of how you felt during the shoot and in the darkroom.
Addressing praise Cole further suggests that praise can be disruptive to vision. It sounds so sweet and we want to believe it, but it can take us off track. Praise is addictive and hard to ignore, but you must for the same reasons you should ignore criticism.
How does Cole Thompson view criticism, praise, and advice? He responds by saying,”I try to be appreciative of the person’s sincere intentions but take their advice with a grain of salt and do my best to not let it sway my opinion of my own work (for good or for bad). Only I know my own Vision and how closely I hit or miss the mark, and for that reason I believe that my opinion is the only one that matters”.
His opinion may be good for himself and I cannot speak for other award winning photographers. I am also a believer that no matter how accomplished one is in any endeavor being validated by your peers is a right of passage for your skill set. Call it human nature. Here’s the conflict, and I can only speak for myself. As a newbie four years ago validation was important (praise and advice, criticism was a hard pill to swallow). It was the only thing that mattered i.e., get as many +1’s, likes, and group invitations as possible. Once I decided what I wanted to do with my photography and had little to no knowledge about the nuances of art, fine art photography, and the digital darkroom praise, criticism, and advice took on a different meaning. It was a necessity to get me to the next level where I could develop my own VISION within my skill set with Confidence, and Fun.
I agree with Mr. Thompson in that I only I know my vision, how I felt at the time I showed my camera to the scene and how I want to interpret my creation in the digital darkroom to be viewed by others. Praise, criticism, and advice still matters to me, but in a different vein. Joel Tjintjelaar has taught me what it takes to process a creation, all the nuances of the great artists, and photographers past and present. What I thought I knew then and what I know now is like night and day. I understand what it takes to “create” as acclaimed artists do. Never in my wildest dreams did I appreciate their perseverance and the time it would take to process a creation for printing.