I’ve lived with criticism my entire life. I would say it stemmed from my over critical mother who made it very plain to me that I wasn’t something I planned in her life, to the way I colored in a coloring book, did my hair, or even my choice in clothing. Nothing was ever good enough. Even now, in my adult life, her critical eyes point out that my laundry isn’t white enough, my weight isn’t low enough, or my time isn’t as precious as hers.
Yet, I digress.
I started photography in 1999. I had a lovely film SLR that took beautiful pictures of my sweet baby boy. My goal wasn’t to become a professional, but to every now and then, have a picture of my kids that wasn’t just your run of the mill snapshot. A picture that made me smile a little bigger, make my heart beat a little faster and a picture that could catapult me back to that exact time that I had captured, remembering my chubby baby and his sweet toothless grin.
A couple of years ago I got my current DSLR. A little Canon Rebel XS EOS. It makes me very happy. With this camera I completed a 365 project, where I took one picture every day for an entire year. I am self taught, I have read countless hours of blog after blog, learning what f-stop meant, what IOS was, what speed I should shoot to capture a running child and what it meant for “noise” to be in a picture when clearly it makes no sound. I have taken thousands of pictures and messed up millions of times.
My first real shoot was of my then, 8 yr old Wyatt. I loved every picture I took of him that day. I still fought with the critical voice in my head telling me, that it wasn’t good enough. My family and friends seemed to love the pictures and that was a boost to my confidence to help me take my next step.
My brothers engagement pictures!
I was so excited that he and his precious fiancee wanted me to take their pictures. We trekked out on a very hot summer day and went from location to location working on some of my favorite photos to date.
After taking my brothers pictures, I purchased lightroom and watched video after video, read article after article, on how to understand the bones of the editing program. I’m still so new to it, but I like what I can produce with it. I’m not a photoshop person. I’m not going to be able to make you look like something you are not. That’s not the point of photography. I want to capture a genuine smile, a laugh that comes from your soul, the look a man has for the love of his life, or the careful touch of a mother and her newborn.
As time past, I had more and more people telling me that I should consider taking up photography as a profession and not as something that I do as a hobby. I really wasn’t sure people would want to pay me to take their pictures. I started a Facebook page, got a few likes and posted some of my favorite pictures so potential clients could see what my work looks like. I got a few bites. Enough to keep my fire burning and make me want to continue on.
My self criticism knows no bounds. I am constantly questioning my work, wondering if it is different, not just run of the mill. I like natural light, I love a good sunflare, and my favorite pictures are the pictures that weren’t meant to be. My favorites are the pictures that most photographers think are meant for the trash bin.
Let me give you a definition.
Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.
I accept constructive criticism. Humbly. What I think is often forgotten about this type of help is a positive force balances a negative one. We all learn this way. We can help each other grow and change, but not with nothing but negative comments.
What it boils down to is this. I’m human. When someone is critical of my work it stings. However just as in life, I am a work in progress. I am a sponge for knowledge and I will continue to educate myself to further my art. Photography should be a community of people who help each other learn grow and change. Photographers shouldn’t belittle you with a negative because your work isn’t what fits into their frame. My work is no more cliche than the next person.
My clients love the work I have produced for them. I am in the business of putting a smile on someones face and creating a memory for them. I will never be done learning. There is always something new to learn. I am proud of the work I have created, even with a little part of me always ever so critical and I won’t let someones negativity hold me back.
“When you think you are ripe, you are rotten. It’s only when you know you are green that you can grow” ~G. T.