‘You Can’t Handle The Truth”……or Can You?

279_RT8Ever want to know what unbiased people really think of those images your friends and family tell you are amazing and professional. Is the fear of having your best work critiqued by a professional in a specific field of photography, a road you are not ready to venture down. It was the path I chose long ago when I was trying to build a strong portfolio for my career in photojournalism It was one of the best moves I ever made and a humbling one too. I learned to trust the experience of those I sought out and accept their opinions without fear or ego getting in the way of furthering my career in photography.

If you admire the work of certain photographers and would respect their opinion of your work you must be willing to bare your photographers soul to them. Not an easy thing to do for most, but essential to move forward in the right direction and away from the false accolades your friends and family feel is their duty to throw at your feet. Did you really earn it? Maybe your images are deserving of praise but if they are only tested on Facebook you are not getting a true assessment of your work.

I have met numerous people who claim to be professional photographers and are usually the first to post every unedited, unprocessed or over-processed image via Facebook or iPhone hoping for a quick ‘Like’ from a friend or family member. This is ‘the fix’ that the majority of would be photographers seek out. That instant gratification and recognition that somehow reassures them that they have arrived as professional photographers.  The truth is that given the opportunity to have their photography critiqued by either a professional photographer or panel they will quickly back away so as not to be judged by established professionals in the photography community.

Purchasing an expensive camera system, to some,  justifies ‘professional’ status even though only the camera deserves it for most. Photography has become just another ‘tag’ people like to attribute to themselves for the ‘glam’ factor. Masquerading as a professional by association of the camera gear you own does not make one a great photographer. Having great images regardless of the gear you shoot with comes from within and there is no justification required.

I do not comment or ‘Like’ many images I see on social networks. When I am approached by an individual seeking some insight into photography I will always have a short conversation with them to assess which type of person I am dealing with. A ‘techy’ will always want to impress you with the gear they have, photography specs and the costs involved to acquiring the best equipment in their opinion . They actually think it matters to shoot with Canon or Nikon. The other I tend to avoid are the copycats. Photography ‘wanna-be’s’ to lazy to seek out their own locations and style and simply want you to draw them a map and guide them through duplicating your images. They don’t want to learn and are only interested in taking what you’ve created and making it there’s too.

To me photography is something create form the inside out. A personal inspiration with no agenda other than accomplishing the vision you initially sought after. The only person I seek for gratification is myself, and I am my own worst critic. Sharing my visions with friends and followers is the small gift I give without expectations.

Do not dismiss a critique if it is from someone that you respect as a professional or publication you admire. A mentor is an asset many amateur photographers are not humble enough to realize because ego gets in the way. I had a mentor when I began and value, to this day,  what I took away with me to get me to where I am today, some 25 years later in my profession.

Bottom line is that positive, or negative feedback is all relative to who it is coming from. Only you know if you are seeking a critique to grow as a photographer or simply a ‘ Like” to give you a fix.

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