Over at one of my daily reads - SportsShooter.com, I was doing some reading there, and was reminded of the fact that the opinions of a student in school somewhere just isn't deserving the same amount of weight and respect as a veteran photo editor, or Pulitzer Prize winner. Unfortunately, students still wet behind the ears, who would never dream of walking up to a veteran in person and tell them think the veteran is out of line, think nothing of doing it online.
To that end, I wrote a post there, that I will re-write here as a standalone piece.
If your status is Student or Intern, you need to be more circumspect in who you suggest has written a critique you don't like and refer to it as "uncalled for". Sorry to be so blunt, but this isn't the Special Olympics, and not everyone gets a trophy and a pat on the back for their performance.
Every photographer here wants to get "called up" to "the show", and play in the big leagues. They want to compete against the staff photographer who's won a Pulitzer. They want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the repeat POY winners, and call them "my colleagues".
A pervasive mentality has swept the high schools about 10 years ago, and it's crept into colleges and now many of those beginning their professional careers, of deserving of success. No one gets an "F", and if you feel that 2+2=5, well, then, that's ok if you feel that way.
You have to earn your way to the top - there are no short cuts, and the path has become more treacherous as staff positions become more and more scarce. Freelancing is even harder.
If you are a student - ask good questions, and then pay attention to the answer. If you respect someone enough to ask them the question, you should have done your due diligence in determining if the person you are asking knows what they're talking about. Don't ask a staffer what it's like to be freelance, or how to charge for a freelance gig. Almost all of them treat freelance work like gravy, while the rest of us see that work as meat and potatoes, and know what the market will bear, where to a staffer, it's walking around money.
If you've ever sat in the back of a room where judging was taking place, and had the privilege of watching and listening to the judges at work, you learned a lot. If your work was there, and you heard three people say "out", well, that's one thing. If two people said "out", and the third started arguing for it, then the other two will start trashing it, rightly or wrongly, with a politically-correct attitude or not, and you'll learn a lot about how the viewers/readers will perceive your photos when they're published.
Sitting around listening to your friends pay you compliments is worth very little, except that it's a nice stroke of your ego. When I have solicited the opinion of my friends on my work, I have said to them "don't say nice things, tell me what's wrong with it..." and when they would say they couldn't find anything wrong with a particular image, I knew I had a winner.
What a judge of your work or a portolio reviewer says something you regard as overly harsh, or out of line, with their years of experience it's likely that what was said, - many people - likely thought. You don't have to like what they said - heck, you don't even have to agree with it. Whether I like it, or agree with their comments, is irrelevant. And if what a judge or portfolio reviewer said was offensive to some, get over it. FAST.
If you've ever been sitting around waiting for a rain delay at a NASCAR track, in a ballpark, or waiting for a delayed press conference anywhere, you've heard photographers talk about other photographers work, and not in pleasant terms. The criticisms are straight, honest, and blunt, and they are often profanity laden. The same goes for photo editors. I know many a photo editor, and they know a good photo from a bad one, and they can see the perspective. This makes them good photo editors - they can send someone they know is a compassionate, quiet person, to a funeral, and they can send the aggressive guy who listens to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson to the event where they might be most comfortable. They can send the guy who can recite accurate sports stats while drunk to the ballgame, and so on, and so forth.
So, if you want to pour a double-espresso, or work the photo booth at Wal-Mart or the olde-tyme photo shop at a resort town, then feel free to whine when your feelings get hurt. If you want to step up your game, and earn a shot at "the show", then you'll not take your critiques personally, and instead, you'll respect the opinions of those who have been around and know a thing or two about good photos, and maybe, just maybe, you'll learn something.
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