We've all shown our photographs to people. While I've never had an official critique per se, there's been comments made about my work that have stuck with me over the years.
Here in Kitimat we have a huge aluminum smelter that has its own newspaper, the Ingot. In the early 1980's I spent some time there as a darkroom technician (slave) and the editor was Gerry Dieter - who ten years earlier was the photographer who documented John Lennon and Yoko's 1969 Montreal "bed-in".
I was a young pup in my early twenties and had a collection of 4x5 contact prints from my wanderings in the forests and mountains on the north coast which I showed him one day. He flipped through the stack and upon finishing he chuckled to himself, "I remember taking pictures like this".
I'm true to myself, and have never taken a photograph because I knew it would sell...in other words, I've kept my photography a purely personal expression. Still, his comment cut like a knife because I knew he was right. My images were all pretty nature scenes, devoid of any real attempt by me to communicate what it is of nature that amazes me.
That changed me.
The other time a comment hit true to home was when I showed those same 4x5 contact prints (the results of my first months in the darkroom) as my entrance portfolio to a fine arts college - there were no drawings or paintings - and they accepted me on the strength of my compositions. I took the same contact prints to the head of the colleges photography department, and he said my printing was good, but my compositions were weak.
I walked away knowing people in positions of power can be blind.
Have you had comments made about your work that's stuck with you over the years, and why?
Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 04-20-2006 at 01:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
Murray-I'm too tired to properly contribute to this but it is an important thread.
I'm going to think about it so I can make a positive contribution...
My first gallery show was all landscapey-type photos. A photographer friend came up to me during the opening and said "Where are all the people?" That comment stuck with me and led to doing nudes and portraits.
Another inspirational comment came from my wife, who some years ago told me never to use her camera (a point&shoot) again, as I just wasted film with the terrible pictures I took. Which led to my getting a "real" camera and the determination to show her I could take decent photos. She eventually conceded that I did indeed have some talent, except for some of the nudes, which she considers indecent.
Not a lot of people have seen my prints. Some fellow students, the wife and few friends. One or two postings here on APUG long ago. Only one critique really stuck, came from a teacher in a night photo class.
I already had my doubts about the way this guy taught. One of those "my way or it's wrong" types. All prints must have white borders, highlghts must not blend into borders, all subjects must be looking at the camera, there is only one proper method of developing, you must follow the rule of thirds, etc etc. After quickly going through my small portfolio, his only comment as he thrust it back was "not enough contrast". That was it, nothing else. My thought was, "I'm wasting my time with this guy". I ended up being right. In all fairness, he did give a good mark even though we didn't get along. The only thing I learned in that class was having knowledge does not mean your a good teacher.
Two people who had a good influence on me were also teachers who knew the technicals and the art of photography. There was suggestions instead of "my way". No one particular critique stands out, but the semester, as a whole. It was a learning and, just as important, fun experience.
Hopefully Ethan and Sonia are both still "influencing" minds and are members here.
I received a copy of a newsletter recently from an art film house where I showed my short video/documentary late last year. It had two comments from the staff, and they were published as a small film review. I didn't know they would do such a thing.
Basically when they saw my documentary they didn't get it, and that's what's on the newsletter. How wonderful! On the other hand, the ones they got were so wishy-washy, and I just thought maybe I had just showed it in a wrong place.
That had stuck in my mind for maybe about a half day, and I forgot about it.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Never has anyone commented upon my photos. They immediately went to sleep. I was always stuck with the options of either catcng my photos or catching the viewer a they both slid off the chair.
I have been considering naming a school or movement after my style..The Narcoleptic Eye.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
My late father once commented on one of my photos: "A perfectly exposed, well-composed and sharp photograph of subjects of no interest." (Dead leaves on a log.) I didn't take offense - I was happy to get the exposure and focusing correct!
"I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright
I only ever get three critiques:
1 - The critique from people I share the darkroom with.... "Oh I like that." or "Oh, that's nice." Neither are very helpful.
2 - The critiques I get when I post them here on APUG:
"..........................<sound of crickets chirping>......................"
Searching my way to perplexion
I've gotten quite a range of critiques of my work. The most frustrating is the "oh, that's nice! I really like your work!" followed by the sound of no cash leaving a wallet still in someone's pocket.
One that stuck rather hard in my craw was from a photographer I know who has a reasonable reputation, but is not a "Name". He does have his Masters of Fine Arts and teaches at several art programs in the Baltimore area. He shoots a lot of nudes, and in looking at my nudes, he said they were "too commercial". What really made it stick was the fact that he said it to someone else, and didn't think it would get back to me. It did. I still shoot some work the same way that I did when he derided it, and I've broadened my work as well. I don't know if he would approve now, or not, but frankly, like Mr. Butler, I don't give a damn.
Oh Claire!!! How soon we forget! :o I distinctly remember commenting on your photos...I realize I'm not much of an expert, but I remember well the snow on the wrought iron fence, the movement of tail lights in a night shot, the boats in the harbor...
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
and not once did I fall asleep! haha