Why Photography Matters – Essay Part 3
Many who start out in photography find it a very enjoyable and challenging endeavor. The how-to information is literally overwhelming when it comes to subjects like composition, exposure, camera controls, bracketing, hdr, black & white etc. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the subjects of the equipment itself or post processing. Dozens of online venues exist where one can (typically with a membership) submit an image everyday or so for critique by fellow members. I say fellow members instead of “photographers” because most members of these online forums are strangers to each other and though highly unlikely could be truck drivers for all you know. I once belonged to one of these online forums. Sure it was a fun way to spend time talking with other like minded folks, exploring others thoughts and ideas when it comes to photography. Sounds like a good idea. Don’t misunderstand, it “can” be good but good is not always the criteria for sharing an opinion.
The problems as I soon found out were two fold. First, not only do you not know who may take time to offer a “critique” of your work, more importantly they don’t know you. Why would this matter? It may not if you want feedback from a person that has no idea why you do what you do and is based on their opinion of how you should do it. If that is the case then I would recommend just looking at their pictures and forget the work of making your own images.
There may be a slight facetiousness in the previous statement but it doesn’t seem far from the truth. Of course you have not invested the time and money into “your” photography just so you could look at others photographs. Nor have you submitted your work so you could have a stranger tell you what they would do. Though this second reason does seem to play an important reason for participating to begin with.
The critique environment that exists among strangers is a sticky wicket to say the least. That said the same is true among very close friends. One group may very well want you to do it “their” way while the other may not be entirely honest when honesty is most needed for the sake of friendship. These are issues that need careful consideration when dealing with the entire critique process.
This is not about an approval or even opinions of others. Photographs matter for this simple yet powerful reason. You invoke something from them and they invoke something to you. This is to say, the very nature of something inspires you and the images you produce in return take on an inspirational form from you. When these forces are acquired your photographs matter.
Don’t worry about getting the most out of your camera or post processing time. Get the most out of your photography experiences. The rest will be a bonus.