F(ing)-Stop

I am peeve-posting today. We all have to do it sometime so bear with me because this could take a minute, or twenty. (That phrase always gets me. I always debate with myself whether it’s “bear with me” or “bare with me”. I figure the latter is just another way of saying “get naked with me” so I never end up choosing that one. Seriously considering writing Webster’s to petition for another spelling of the word bear/bare just for the purpose of using it in this context!)

I love Flickr. It’s one of the many joys I indulge in throughout any given week. I love browsing the incredible photos there, I love commenting, posting my own and having those commented (because let’s face it, we all love to hear how awesome/talented/kickass/great we are at whatever it is we fill our precious time with). I enjoy it when someone marks me as a contact as long they aren’t pervy dumb asses. I have had that happen a few times. Hello Block Feature! 🙂

Anyway, the point is that I love Flickr. There are, however, a few things that bug me. It’s not a Flickr issue either; it’s a people issue. If you’ve ever posted anything on there or even browsed through the comments on some of the photos, you’ve probably seen what I’m talking about.

There are notes on photos that are perfectly fine the way they are that say things like: Crop this, lighten shadows, overexposed, glare, fix this, ect. There are comments that say, “please remove _______.” Fill in the blank – it could be anything. I once had someone tell me to remove my watermark. Really, dude? Really?!

You also get the “Nice. I would have liked it better if you would have adhered more to the rule of thirds and if it wasn’t so contrasty,” “I really don’t like her hair & the lighting is off, but nice try. You should bracket next time.” There are comments filled with useful constructive critisism and then there are the ones that are the backhanded almost-compliments like the examples above, only they’re usually worse than those. That was just the best I could come up with off the top of my head as an example. I especially hate when people make the “I would have _________ to make it better” comments.

ART IS SUBJECTIVE. If you don’t like it, feel free to keep on truckin’! If I think it’s great the way it is, I’m not going to change it just because one person thinks their way is better.

Everything could always be better, but if I like it the way it is and it’s my work, why waste your time and mine commenting on something just to tear it down because it isn’t in your tastes or up to your standards? Constructive critisism I can take. I like that because I’m always looking to improve. I can also take the “this would have made it better” comments if I ASK for your opinion or you are someone that I know or have regular correspondance with; in that case, I know you’re being helpful rather than malicious. But comments that serve no purpose except to tear down another individual or their art or make them feel inferior? It’s one of my biggest peeves. You would think that people who enjoy the same types of things would come together and try to encourage eachother rather than play the I’m-Better-Than-You-And-Here’s-Why game, but we’re so competitive that we can’t help ourselves sometimes.

Everyone is at different places in their journey with whatever they’re doing at any given time. I sucked at photography a few years ago. To go back and compare my work now with my work then would be both painful and hilarious to me. I can hear myself now…”I thought that was good? Ugh…”

In a few more years, I expect to look at the things I’ve done now and see even more improvement. But the technical stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much to me as the feeling that a good photo can invoke in a person. If it doesn’t make me feel anything, then I don’t waste my time with it. It’s part of the reason I don’t usually post my technicals under my photos like a lot of other people do. If you’re really interested, ask me or look at my Exif data, I don’t care. But the photo, the subject, what it makes me feel, the memories it gives me – those are the important things to me. So what if the sky is a little overexposed or I didn’t photoshop the dirt smudge off my child’s face. It’s real and it’s them exactly how they are at that moment. Sweet, innocent and covered in dirt & if I think it’s perfect the way it is, then guess what? It’s perfect the way it is.

I once had someone tell me I cropped too closely on an image which was fine because the girl’s elbow was, in fact, cut off – I knew that. But it was because I was working with a 50mm lens in a space that didn’t allow me enough room to get far enough back. This person didn’t know what kind of conditions I was working under or what equipment I had to work with, they just assumed I did it on purpose. I wasn’t mad at the comment because it was meant as constructive cristism rather than the other crap that people sometimes post, but I couldn’t help feeling a slight annoyance that Captain Obvious had to put his 2 cents in on something I was already well aware of without knowing all the details. But such is life. People often have to say their piece before they have all the information – we’re human. We all do it. We all get over it. Everything we do can’t always be perfect. It can’t ever be perfect, actually, but that desire to achieve perfection is what keeps us going.

When I see someone just starting out, I always take time to encourage them because I know just how valuable that encouragement can be. Even if they don’t share the same style as me or if the photo is under/over-exposed, I spend more time pointing out the positives than I do the negatives because there will always be that one person that comes along and ONLY highlights the negatives. I don’t know if that’s their way of helping or if it’s their way of feeling better about their own stuff, but either way it isn’t helpful. Even if it isn’t photography – let’s say it’s knitting. I don’t knit. But if you made one of those crazy-cute baby hats, I would totally take time to compliment you on the skills because Lord knows I can’t do that 🙂

Every type of art that I can think of is supposed to be about creative expression or a release for the person doing it. It’s supposed to be for you. Even if you choose to share it with others or you’re selling your artistic services – something about it is still for you. People don’t just get into arts for the hell of it, there is typically some kind of personal reason behind it. Respect that. Respect that it belongs to someone else who took care and pride in it. Respect that art is subjective and that just because something may not be done “your way” doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

*Beth takes a big breath here…………….and let it out………And…………we’re done.*

If you made it to the bottom of this post, you most definitely deserve the AWESOMETASTICALLY SPIFFILICIOUSLY WONDERIFFIC AWARD. I will totally make such an award for anyone who comments 🙂

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4 thoughts on “F(ing)-Stop

  1. Oh Flickr…I get what you’re saying. I expect and seeking constructive criticism on photography message boards. Flickr to me has always meant to a be a social way to share photos, unless the photo is posted in “critic me” forum on Flickr. I love people who skip the photo you posted on those forums and go through your whole stream to find a photo to bring down. sigh.

    Keep on doing what YOU are doing because it makes YOU happy!

    • Yes! I have had people do that to me before lol. I am a part of a group on flickr where you post one photo from your stream and the participants are meant to comment that photo and 4 or 5 others from your stream. It’s supposed to be meaningful comments, at least 2 or three sentences. I had someone skip over the photo I posted and only post negative comments on all of the photos they commented on. It’s fine if you’re goal is to help others get better, but it’s not cool to purposely try to make people feel bad. Plus, if you’re going to critique someone, isn’t the rule to start with something positive first and then roll into what could be improved rather than just telling them this, that and the other thing are “wrong”? Thanks for your comment!

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