Every photographer wants to improve. But how do we know we are getting better? Besides looking critically at our own work we listen to the opinions of others.
Allowing other people to judge your work is essential. But you have to be cautious about who's opinion you value. It is human nature to give a negative opinion more weight than praise. The bad comments tend to stick in your mind. So be careful of giving the following people the power to influence your art:
- There are plenty of great photography teachers that just love sharing their knowledge and are very good educators but there are also some who teach photography but may harbour regrets and be a little bitter about not making it to the top. You have to spot the difference. You'll know the ones to avoid because no matter what you do they will always seek the minor faults and flaws and you will never be able to please them.
- People who knit pick on small things but don't really help you develop your vision.
- Someone who may have set themselves up as the font of all knowledge but all they do is parrot formulas and rules without real understanding. The best way to unmask these people is to look at their own photography. You'll soon see if they know what they're talking about.
So who should you listen to:
- People that have no agenda and have made it to the top, acknowledged masters. They are often the most generous with advice too.
- Those rare people who see your potential to develop and can identify the strengths in your work and can advise you on how to develop your art as a photographer. People who can help you with your creative vision for the future, not just technical advice.
Once you know the direction you want to go in you can easily learn the technical stuff.
Just learn what you need to know to realise your vision. Put your effort into creativity rather than into trying to learn technical manuals.
Beware of whose opinions you listen to. Learning who's opinion to value and who to ignore is a life and death decision for artistic success.
PS. Picture above of a Flemish Heavy Horse. More about this amazing animal weighing over a ton here.