So I’ve been busy with a new day job. I’ve actually also been busy doing a photo a day project online. I’d been reluctant to inundate my friends, family and hard drive with these projects, however, this one was presented as a tool for me to challenge and inspire myself. Here is the description from the group’s Facebook page:
“An interactive photo a day challenge that helps you develop your visual literacy by guiding you through daily prompts that engage your imagination.
Each day, we provide a “daily inspiration” that will stimulate your creative photographic magic. It doesn’t matter if you’re literal, logical, or a free spirit; there are no wrong answers.”
Sounds fun right? Well, I’m not having so much fun now. I admit that I’m a sensitive soul. Criticism is hard for me to take because, well, I’d like to be perfect. I often care too much about what other people think of me. Believe me, I’m working on it, but it’s a long process. So when I found a thread online of another member of the group criticizing one of my photos, my feelings were hurt.
Now, I understand that criticism is necessary in order to become a better photographer. As much as I dislike it, I understand the value in seeing what you did wrong in your work, or what could be done better so that you can grow and improve. However, the criticism I received was not about my lighting, or my composition or cropping. It wasn’t about my white balance or my depth of field. The person who took issue with my photo said that she didn’t think it was challenging enough.
That really stung me. Criticize my technique. I can learn and grow there. But I felt like she was judging the way I had interpreted the daily inspiration. And to judge how I interpret things and state what is or isn’t a challenge for me, hurt me more because it was a dig at how I view the world, how may brain understands things.
I got more upset because this group is not supposed to be competitive. I had taken this project on as a personal quest to challenge myself, not to pit myself against others. I was previously a member of a local photo club where we had weekly competitions and criticism of our work. But that’s not what this project is supposed to be about and that’s not why I joined. I don’t like the fact that my idea, my interpretation was judged. The inspiration word for that day was “forgotten”. I actually felt very challenged by that word. I thought about it until that day and had a really hard time coming up with anything figurative and finally decided to interpret it literally; what does forgetting mean to me? What is something I forget?
In addition to the fact that I found the concept challenging, there are other limiting factors I’ve found with this project. I don’t have a studio so I generally have to work with the things in my immediate environment; things at home or at work. I do find that somewhat constraining. I also have a time limit. I have a day job; I have a husband, and a dog. I keep myself pretty busy. So in addition to the challenge I have other limitations to consider in what shot I’m going to take. Some are longer setups with lighting; some are quick shots while I’m out. This particular picture ended up being a quick one on a busy day.
I don’t think the point of this project is to make each photo be better than the last. I don’t think the point is to have every single photo end up a masterpiece. I think the point is more to stretch my brain and think outside the box. I don’t claim it was the best photo in the world, but I’m still hurt that someone would decide if it was challenging enough. Why does she get to set the challenge bar? She probably knows nothing about me, if I have disabilities, what my day to day life is like and my ability to understand things, so why does she get to critique that aspect of my work?
I do acknowledge that we photographers can be quite competitive. I’m a bit saddened by that because as artists, I feel like we need to be more supportive of each other. How many of us are really stealing each others clients? I also feel like the internet plays a big role here too. I think that there is a certain anonymity about being online that makes us feel safer to say things we wouldn’t necessarily say to someone’s face. I find it harder and harder to go online. I’m a bit narcissistic in that I want to know what people are saying, but then I feel bombarded by a lot of negativity. It seems to me like there is a lot more anger and hatred floating around in many threads than happiness and support.
I’m of the old school. I was taught that if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say it at all. I also understand that that might infringe on your right to free speech. I suppose all that I wish is that we would all try a little harder to walk in other people’s shoes. To think more about how the way we say something could affect others, and above all, just practice a little kindness.
Stay tuned as I got to do a shoot for a Red Deer musician whose photos I’ll be posting soon. Stay classy! TTFN.