Calling a spade a spade
If you’re a parent like me, you’ve had a few difficult decisions to make regarding your kids over the years. You want the best for them. You want them to have everything that you didn’t. You want them to grow up strong and independent.
Adversity can build us up or tear us down. It’s only when you’re in the gym doing that last squat and you’re so sore that you want to vomit that your muscles will grow. They’ll atrophy if they don’t get used or pushed.
The path of least resistance is not always the best for personal growth.
I would never intentionally hurt my kids feelings when they were proud of something that they’d done. I’d be honest and encouraging. They’ve been taught since they were toddlers that the only bad mistake is the one that they don’t learn from but if you keep telling them that everything they do is great, no matter what, you’re doing more harm than good.
What does this have to do with photography you ask?
When I was being trained as a photographer, we had a critique class. I’ve written about them before. We had guest photographers come in and critique our assignments. They weren’t always pleasant. Nobody wants to hear that their prize image doesn’t make the grade.
Lie and tell the student that the photo is great and they’ll never progress. Be honest with them in a constructive way and the opportunity to improve is theirs.
I did my weekly Saturday morning visit of a few photo blogs. Some are written by amateurs, others not.
One was a little disconcerting. The photographer was proudly(?) posting photos of his clients photo trips and workshops over the past winter.
Some were horribly processed, the worst possible HDR processing you can imagine. Others were either taken during completely overcast days where everything was blaaaah and yet more were taken during the harshest most unkind light of mid day. They were terrible! All of them.
As my kids would say, MAJOR FAIL!
You won’t ever get better if someone in a position of authority says you’re doing a great job. All we need is a little reassurance and we’re quick to believe that we’re as good as we think we are. Those photographers will remain stagnant much like the photographer whose blog I am writing about.
Secondly, most of us aren’t stupid. If we see terrible pictures, it doesn’t matter if they’ve been taken in one of the most beautiful places on earth. An awful picture can be taken anywhere. I’ve seen gawd awful photos of Lake Louise. Because the area is gorgeous you still can’t shoot anytime you want and come back with a work of art.
If you were considering a photo workshop or a tour would you be inclined to choose one where the photos by and large were terrible? I know I wouldn’t.
Sadly, in order to make a living in photography, at least for some, they resort to this. I don’t make any friends in the photo community by writing this stuff but then I didn’t mislead my kids when they didn’t hit the mark, they turned out to be strong, smart and independent.
It’s buyer beware in the photo world. Caveat emptor.