Wow, this is like a long winded response to one of my harsh critiques. Sorry I’m so late to the game.
I’ve looked around this site at some of the (overwhelmingly negative) feedback that many (if not most) “fauxtographers” are receiving. Constructive criticism by definition should also point out what is working – i.e. apparent strengths that can be built upon.
Uh, no it shouldn’t. It CAN contain positive feedback but it doesn’t have to. I mean, if you want to be a pussy about your critique, you can point out some good stuff. But you are typically addressing adults in a critique so they should be able to handle it. If they can’t, it’s a tell-tale sign that they aren’t cut out for this business.
Now one thing that really strikes me is that many of these people giving out the criticism have years and decades of experience as professional photographers but since they hide behind avatars we don’t see any links to examples of any of their work as examples of what exceptional or bona fide photography is.
Art critics are rarely artists themselves. Film critics don’t typically make films. Why do photo critics need to be photographers? Art is incredibly subjective and to judge ones critique based on their own work doesn’t help you. It only gives you a reason not to accept their critique. The critic’s work is irrelevant to what you need – an honest opinion. It is relevant to what you really want – a reason to feel good about yourself. I have no interest in making you feel good about yourself. I do want to help you, though. Pointing out the positive things you are doing, don’t really help you. Pointing out what is wrong does and then it is up to you to figure out how to fix it. I can provide some pointers but I think that just complicates the issue. As a photographer, my hardest job is solving problems while on the spot. Practice makes perfect.
If Gordon Ramsay or Raymond Blanc for example were to write blogs lambasting the poor quality of food served in burger vans, greasy spoon cafes or pubs we could take every word they say practically as gospel. Everyone knows who they are – Michelin star awarded chefs, the elite of their profession but even they don’t get rave reviews from food critics 100% of the time.
You could not pay me to eat at one of their restaurants, just as you couldn’t pay me to take critic from an accomplished photographer. I’ve listened and watched the critiques of some of these so-called professional photographers that charge big money to let them say nice things and be gentle about the bad things about your work. I see no value in that.
Overall the impression I get is one of fear of and attempts to discourage competition from less experienced market entrants who can undercut prices in a tough economy. It’s the same train of thought as the long running rage against microstock . Yuri Arcurs for one has done very well out of microstock but any claim that he is not a professional photographer could not be taken seriously given the size of his business.
I’d say we are trying to discourage faux’s from ripping off consumers. Personally, I could care less about people who are undercutting. That isn’t really how I operate. I don’t go into a project trying to “make a deal”. Client’s ask my rate, we negotiate a little bit but I don’t budge that much. If anything, they get less for less, not more for less. As for microstock – stock is typically the bottom of the barrel. And if stock is the bottom of the barrel, you can imagine what we think about microstock. Stock imagery, just like most photography, is expensive to produce. There is a lot of risk with very little reward. I’m less interested in volume and more interested in creating beautiful images. So I work less and make more per job. It pays off in the end. That dude most work like a dog. That sucks.
The one from the list I find hilarious is that if you use selective colouring you are not a professional photographer. Now I can go into a place that sells wall posters and find an A1 size photograph of a yellow taxi in a New York street – only the taxi is in colour the rest is black and white. There are many versions – put “New York taxi poster” into Google images to see what I mean – most of the results are colour pops. It may be cliche and rather ubiquitous but I’m willing to bet it sells in significant volume.
So, the objective here is to make a ton of money, not take beautiful and meaningful photographs? I’d rather do both, but if I had to choose just one, i’d take beautiful and meaningful photographs. Don’t get me wrong, I do jobs for the money too. Just as actors make bad films for the money and then do an artful film. But even those money jobs are done on my terms. I still am interested in doing the best I can with the resources I have.
So come on all you seasoned pros – pick up the gauntlet and show the rest what to aspire to.
No, I don’t want you to aspire to me. I want you to do your own thing, your way and I’ll let you know what I think. You can take it or leave it.