“Every day is a new challenge for a photographer. Will it be a portrait, sports, fashion or something else completely? And no matter what that day brings, it must always end the same way – with a great shot.” I read this only today……
And that’s what I’d like to happen in my world. There’s always that old adage that you are only as good as your last shot.. but the problem as I see it, is that a lot of amateur photographers, post online everything (and I mean everything) they took on a shoot.
We are constantly bombarded with a miriad of images – and photographers asking which we prefer – the colour one, or the black and white ? The landscape orientation, or the portrait? The processed image, or the straight out of the camera?
Now I understand the need sometimes to get another persons opinion – but in the end analysis it has to be what YOU, the photographer like, and not what some unknown person on the other side of the globe has to say about your pictures. Mostly it’s about personal preference and so posting your two (sometimes pretty poor) photographs asking for a choice, is a bit like asking what shall I eat today – an apple or a banana? Some will like one, some the other – so in the end you are really no further forward.
There was a group on Facebook, that I joined a few months ago, as I was looking for information on Photoshop and Lightroom – and thought that I might get some ideas as to how to work more effectively with CC. Instead, I was bombarded with “which do you prefer” images, and after only a week or so, I just abandoned the group to its own devices.
I wondered why the photographers were so unable to make their own decisions, and came to the conclusion that it’s to do with self image. The uncertainty of their work, and the fear of rejection in the real world. After all, how many images posted on Facebook, or Flickr or other photo sharing sites have negative comments posted below them? That would be incredibly few. The problem here is that the more people say “wow”, “incredible image”, “amazing work”, to poor images, the more the photographer has the self belief that what they are producing is actually good, and so they continue to produce more of it.
There are of course the photographers whose work is most definitely amazing, and incredible – and all the epithets that go with them are true – but the trouble is, they sometimes get buried in the sea of unexceptional work, though some just rise to the surface and become photographers impossible to ignore… their work just ‘shines’.
What’s the answer?
Three answers really…..
- Find and follow the truly amazing photographers and be inspired by them. A good place to start is https://500px.com/ – a fantastic community of photographers. Join for free – make your own gallery, and collect, and curate the images here that inspire you. (Other sites are available – and don’t forget, when you see brilliant images, you WILL know……)
- Stop saying things are good, when they obviously aren’t. Seriously, I know it’s your friend, but sometimes it’s kinder to be honest than to continue to encourage mediocre images. Saying nothing at all can be more honest than saying something is good when it’s not.
- Visit exhibitions. Photographic, art, painting – everything. You’ll see works from the ‘masters’ the top class image makers. Look at it and analyse it. What makes it good for you – and if you don’t like it – what makes it bad for you. Read……. read books about photographers, books about making images, books about creatives.
Lastly, I would say, stop posting EVERYTHING from your last shoot, holiday, portrait session – just give us the good ones to see. Deep down, most people know what’s good and what isn’t. The trick is to sort out the wheat from the chaff….. and if you really can’t do that…. then yes, ask a friend… but only if you are prepared to hear the unadulterated truth.