Thursday, October 30, 2008

Criticism



I showed this picture off yesterday. Although I had many compliments, I had one comment that stuck with me. See the baby's eyes? The reflection of the windows are in her eyes... as well as the dot that was my flash. It's a teeny tiny dot, but it was all I could see once that comment was made. This person later said that she "loved" the photograph, but tends to be very critical in life. She also said that she's very critical of herself.

Two things happened last night. I shut down out of fear of failure. How dare I call myself a photographer?! How dare I think that anyone would care for my rubbish?! And then I had heard enough from the monster in my head and decided that I could edit out the little dot and move one. The other thing that happened was that I felt really sorry for the gal that critiqued me. Not because I yelled at her, because I didn't (in case you were wondering). I realize she was being helpful and she has never been anything but kind and pleasant. But I thought of how quickly she saw that... and I wondered how many of her own incredible images she might have criticized far too harshly.

I took my friends criticisms too personally and later got over it. But I never stopped to think about why this person was critiquing... or what her reasons were for being, what she called, very self critical. Wouldn't it be great if we could all wave a wand and get rid of all of our fears and insecurities. I wonder how many of us are strangled by our own perceived limitations.

This isn't really making any sense... I just wanted to think about this out loud... and I'm still not sure that wand waving would be the best idea...

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8 comments:

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sugar,
It is a great photo, carry on! Part of real beauty is appreciating the slight flaws we all have, could be in a photo, but mostly in ourselves. Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

Marfa (Formula For a Life) said...

This makes plenty of sense to me. Too many times in my life I have had big and small missed opportunities because I didn't speak out or do what I should have done. For instance, I've been in a group of people talking about how to solve a problem, I've thought of a solution but I've kept my mouth shut because immediately I thought: "Marfa, that's just dumb. Keep your mouth shut before you sound like an idiot!" Moments later someone else says out loud what I had already thought and they have gotten all the accolades. I always think of that old saying that goes: Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open it and prove it. And that has kept me from speaking out out of fear of sounding silly.

In regards to criticism, it seems to me like your friend might be the type of person who always notices the negatives way before she notices the positives. Its all about where you put your eyes. When I saw that picture I noticed a beautiful, happy baby with sparkling eyes and a bright smile. It didn't occur to me to think that the sparkle was the flash or the light coming from a window. If, for instance, there was a huge empty space next to the baby, I might notice that and tell you to remember, next time, to focus the baby in the middle. But the flash dot...that's just someone who will always look for something bad, even where there is nothing bad to be found.

Marfa-Formula For a Life said...

ummm....must make a PS here...lol the baby's pic...? Ok...not smiling...that was another picture that I saw before yours...sorry...lol Beautiful baby, bight bright eyes yes. Forgive the faux pas? ;-) You must be thinking: Smiling? What is she talking about? The baby isn't smiling! This woman is blind! I'm not...just got momentarily confoozled...lol

Corina said...

I am so sorry. As the person that gave you that critique. In any way did I hope that you were at all turned off by my criticism. It is a GREAT flaw of my own.

Your photo is GORGEOUS. Photographer you are. NEVER forget or question that.

I do tend to see negatives alot. A This is true. I am very critical of myself. And this post is a little kick in the butt to me to lighten up a little (thanks, I owe you one).
I can be critical of others as well (as I was of your picture.... which really.... goregeous). But really, I don't think it is what I did here. I am a teacher by trade. (and before you think that I am a teacher that is always down on her students, it could not be farther from the truth). However, as a teacher of a wide range of students, I always am trying to reach their own personal best. Inspire, to notice what they could do better, to learn.

It was hard to get all that across in 140 characters, so it might have not been as inspiring as it could have been.

It is a GRAND testament to your photograph that the only thing that I noticed was the tiny little flash bulb in the child's eyes. You caught me at a time when I was critiquing photos for a BD article I was writing... so I was also in that mode.

You are a photographer. I consider myself a photographer in training and trust me, I shoot alot of junk. But then again, maybe I am being too harsh on some of this so called "junk" And maybe I do need to show more of it. Thanks for opening my eyes.

Sugar said...

Now I feel silly...

Like I said, my friend (Corina) is never anything but kind.

Corina~ I hope you understand that this wasn't about you so much as it was about how we handle criticism and how it can hamstring us sometimes. I'm so sorry if I hurt you in any way by posting about this. Like I said at the end, I wasn't really sure I was making sense...

But I still have this nagging feeling that you are a fantastic photographer and I'm dying to see your photos!

Sugar

Christine said...

I strangle myself with criticism, so I get it. But. I think the reflection makes the photo so much more interesting. and in the smaller size, it looks like a glint, a light in her eyes. It's a beautiful picture.

Corina said...

Sweetie....
Don't feel bad. Again.... I was being dumb because I was in the frame of mind of critiques, because I was already doing them. I picked out the only very very minor thing (not even a flaw.... just something...that I saw in the bigger picture) and I thought that I would mention it. I have put myself out there many times for critiques, and what I get back has been sometimes harsh. But it made me learn so much.... I even wrote a whole article on critiquing yourself for BD (which I used photos where the mistakes were clear as an example).

As for my photos.... trust me.... yours are very similar. I am learning in this art, there is no competition. There is an eye for composition. And in that eye, we can all learn from each other. But, we still have our own eye, our own style. And in that, there is no competition. It has taken me awhile to be able to show some of my stuff... because you have hit the nail right on the head..... I have been embarrassed to show it because I am still learning.

Thanks again. You are sweet. I am sorry for awakening your own demon....

Beth Coming Up said...

When I first saw this picture in this post, I thought to myself, what an absolutely gorgeous baby girl. And then I read your post. How sad that one comment can ruin such a beautiful picture for you. And while I'm not a photographer, and I didn't see any of the flaws that were pointed out, I still think it's a gorgeous photo.

When you've grown up with criticism, it's hard to look through it to find joy. And out of 100 compliments, one can smash us to bits. I found the criticism I grew up with had poisoned me for so long and I would tear myself apart to the point where I had no joy.

This photo is a great reminder that, sure we can criticize by looking at minute details, but when we look at the big picture, it's breathtaking.