When I started this, I expected a lot of energy-filled replies. To tell the truth, APUG is the first, and so far, only forum where I would expect any sort of coherent discussion ... and I have not been disappointed.
I struggled with my first post. Much of it was condensed, many thoughts were omitted. - So I'll continue -"Thoughts from the back of an envelope style":
Many critics (no, not ALL) make the assumption that the "submitter" does not know that "Every work is imperfect - and can be improved."
Possibly there are some of "those" out there - so far I haven't found any of them. Every photographer I know - at every stage of developement - has been infused with a burning desire to improve... at least until the critics hell-bent on defending or "improving the art" get to them.
Do any of you identify with this?:
I am struck with an inspiration ... and photograph... with the myriad decisions of film selection, compositon, exposure. To the darkroom - devlop, select the image, print... and evalute the results. The first print ... well, not bad, but ... I could really use more contrast, and a little less printing exposure. Another print, another evaluation. Somewhat better... but, if I dodge here, and burn the upper right corner for ten seconds more.... and so it goes.
After fifteen or twenty prints (it has happened) I'll force myself to stop. Spreading out the prints on a table, I'll agonize for a while, do a great deal of introspection and soul-searching ... and finally decide on which print "works" best. From there, I'll make an 11" x 14" or 16" x 20" "exhibition print.
The chosen configuration was number 4. Number 3, dodged and burned for ten seconds in the upper right corner, simply did not "work" for me, using *MY* vision, *MY* biases, whatever those internal mechanisms I have deep inside my being (no, I DON'T understand them).
Now, to the gallery.
Invariably, some critic, most often unsolicited, with the zeal of a crusader, will say something like, "You know, you have to (note the imperative) dodge here, and burn the upper right corner for ten seconds to make this "worth anything".
I've found that, usually, it does no good to try to argue this out. To describe "my vision", and try to rationalize the process simply takes too much energy ... and to tell the truth, although I've tried, I've never succeeded.
Possibly I should include, under my print, my darkroom wastebasket, with the nineteen rejected prints as some sort of defense against the label "slacker"?
At least to SOME extent am I not justified in thinking (I always try to be poilite) "Oh yeah? This is MY work. If you think you can do better, go out a take your own damn photograph -"