Thursday, January 12, 2006

Critical success

The internet allows photographers to publish their images to a potentially huge international audience. Online systems enable them to measure the popularity of an image through seeing how often a picture is viewed or through ratings systems. And of course authors can get direct feedback through comments on their work.

But is the approval of peers and the ratings they give a true measure of how good an image is. The short answer is no. Inevitably when any of us interact within community we create an online personal brand. People's reactions to a picture are influenced by the way they perceive the photographer's personal brand. Audiences often measure success in terms of expectations so that a beginner who suddenly produces a good image may be rated higher on an image than someone more experienced who consistently produces a high standard of work. The appreciation of an image is influenced by numerous factors.

How then do you know if your images really are good? Like all successful brands the best measure is in fact how passionate people are about your brand and your images. Being disliked is just as good an indication that you are making an impact as being popular. In fact the more brilliant your images are and the more passionately people feel about your photography the more likely you are to experience detractors, negative criticism and dislike.

To illustrate the point about brands lets take the example of Canon and Nikon. To all intents and purposes both camera systems are equally good. Yet like all successful brands Nikon and Cannon have passionate supporters and equally importantly passionate detractors. When it comes to good clearly defined brands, opinions  are invariably polarised

Look at the great photographers who have made a huge impact on the world. All of the master photographers have their ardent supporters and their fierce critics. The key indicator of success is not how popular your photography is but rather how passionate people are about it.

So I say embrace negative criticism, celebrate your detractors because it shows that you are making your mark and your personal brand is becoming successful.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Paul Indigo
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