Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Criticism in Photography: Is It Good or Bad? (Part 1).

Before we can answer the question above we need to be able to define what “criticism” means.

-    the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing;
-    the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.

First of all, the term criticism has negative connotations and is used to express disapproval or noting problems and faults of a person or thing. 

It doesn’t matter what you choose: to take photographs, to share them, to write your posts— whatever you do, you’ll receive critical comments.
As a rule, the vast majority of people are positive or neutral about the work of others. But you can’t avoid negative comments or emails. As a rule, most people are upset after receiving bad comments. (And I am not an exclusion).

By the way most people remember negative emotions much more strongly. In a research paper titled, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good”, Roy Baumeister with other researchers summarize academic studies that prove that people are more likely to remember negative criticism than praise; it takes about five positive events to make up for one negative event.

First and foremost do not be afraid to be yourself. Every person is unique, that’s why every work is something special.

Sometimes the best strategy is to not respond the negative comments. If you decide to respond, wait at least a couple of days.

Remember that popular, famous and even great people were criticized and are criticized.
For example, the impressionists and the post-impressionists were not only criticized but insulted.
Edouard Manet wrote: “The attacks of which I have been the object have broken the spring of life in me... People don't realize what it feels like to be constantly insulted.”
“These are not works of art at all, unless throwing a handful of mud against a wall may be called one. They are works of idleness and impotent stupidity, a pornographic show.” (Wilfrid Scawen Blunt -on Post-Impressionist works).

Maybe you’ve heard the story about the works of an outstanding landscape photographer Galen Rowell.
 He wrote:  “I remember when an editor at the National Geographic promised to run about a dozen of my landscape pictures from a story on the John Muir trail as an essay, but when the group of editors got together, someone said that my pictures looked like postcards.” And he continued: “Luckily, many other people tell me how they have had a particular landscape photograph of mine in their office or bedroom for 15 years and it always speaks to them strongly whenever they see it.”

Finally, make your own choices. 
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
We’ll speak about the second meaning of the term “criticism” in the next post.

Thank you for reading!
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