'The Performer' by Marc Apers
I'm feeling pretty damned comfortable about my photography. How about you?
The feedback I get on my pictures is never critical, never harsh and always supportive and congratulatory. I'm doing well, doing really great in fact.
People love my work. Nobody tells me I'm producing cliched, repetitively themed pictures seen a hundred times before. That I'm using the same stylistic form, the same props, the same background, the same look. Everyone likes my style and I like it too, because it's cool to be stylish. I'm cool. And my pictures are always technically great, because I've never had a complaint. Yes, I'm feeling pretty damned comfortable about my photography.
The current social forms of communication seem to not allow any criticism of my right to be authentic and have a voice, hence, everything I do and share on-line is wonderful. Which of course is indeed wonderful. No argument from me. But being human, I start to believe what I'm constantly being told by my mother. Sorry, my social media feed. Mothers all over the world adore their offsprings art. They pin it to the fridge, the walls and to their own social media. Their children are the next Picasso of the Art world. That's rubbish of course, because obviously they are not - my children are! How dare they! Anyway...
The point being that complacency is an inevitable consequence of meaningless feedback. It's nice to get, but you can have too much of a good thing. The difficulty arrises when someone dares to offer constructive or even harsh feedback. I mean, what do they know? How dare they! Then it's reach for the nuclear option of the 'cancel' button, enlisting the help of the easily triggered indignant and outraged to leap to our defence.
Outrage and anger (within you, not against you) is actually a good sign. It means you care. It means that once the hurt and anger subside, the critical defamation of your work will (hopefully, and I am the eternal optimist despite grumpy appearance) be absorbed, considered and then... then you and I will improve. It's the antidote to complacent mediocrity.
But there is another option...
Submit your picture to 1x and their obscure and secretive clan of curators who will mutter darkly amongst themselves in order to pass judgment, silently and without remorse. Then, after a couple of nail biting days, they either consign our masterpieces to oblivion, mere obscure publication on our own portfolio, or to full and blazing glory with an Award.
The clever bit of all this is the silent critical feedback. You get nothing. Not a hint. Instead, we all must work out why a rejection happened. The instinctive reaction is obvious. They are all a bunch of sadistic in-bred ideologue artist elites detached from reality. And while this might be true, there is, yet again another option... a team of bemused but talented 1x members who tirelessly help other equally talented and bemused members figure it all out .
It's a work in progress I'm afraid. No answer has yet to be found. No magic formulae. But that's the point. Take whatever you can and grow.
But whatever you do, try not to become complacent.
'Her Cuteness' by Antje Wenner-Braun
My thanks to all who commented!
Chris Hamilton PRO
Great images and selections, nicely done.
Wanghan Li PRO
For my limited English, do you mean what Kimberly said in her comments? Thanks a lot!
I can reply better in your native language?
Basically, yes, what Kimberly said is correct. I'm NOT happy with my work or indeed content with doing the same thing or style. What I write in the opening paragraphs is not true, it's the opposite of how I feel, if you understand?
Bang on Peter! If you're content with doing the same old thing over and over fine, if you want to learn from the best, step out of your comfort zone and grow your skills, then you are in the right place!
Adolfo Urrutia PRO
Excellent writing, Peter.
Marc Apers CREW
You nailed it Peter, couldn't have put it better. Thanks for choosing my photo.
Steven T CREW
Thank you, Peter, for another thoughtful article. Photographers have egos - that's a fact. They can stunt our growth. Thanks for providing a link to the Senior Critics' hideout. We appreciate your support.
Inspirational writing Peter. Thanks for taking the time!
Mike Kreiten CREW
Haha! Great writing Peter! Thanks for the promotion of the critique forum, we'd really appreciate more "traffic".
Anita Singh PRO
Very thought provoking write up , thanks Peter for sharing this
Yvette Depaepe CREW
Great subject for the column of this week, Peter. It's a topic that concerns us all. Excellent critical approach. Cheers, Yvette