Recently, on Facebook, I tried an experiment. I posted a picture and asked for feedback. I don’t normally ask for feedback. In addition, I shared my thoughts on the image. I said, “So much here that I normally would not include. The bush, the background and going vertical in the dunes.” So, in effect I was saying to my audience, I know this COULD be flawed. What happened? Some loved it, but many did not.
I’d like to make some observations in hopes that we could learn together. As soon as I gave permission by asking, “I think it works, you?” I knew I was going to get feedback. Now what? My friend Cole Thompson asks in his excellent lecture, “Why would you ask others opinion about your vision?” I believe this to be a fair question. Who knows more about my vision than me? Why would I give someone else permission to tell me how I should see or interpret a particular scene? More importantly, what happens when I get feedback, especially feedback that goes against my choices or my vision? If you are “normal” you may feel a little knot in your stomach, or, you might even wince. You might feel dissapointment. My guess is, the next thing you will do, is question your choices, or, your vision. Hum, maybe they are right? Maybe it is too centered, has too much processing, is not balanced, should be a square, etc, etc. These are the dangerous waters of which we need to be careful. Again I ask, who knows more about your vision than you? I fully understand the need for feedback as we are learning our craft, however, at some point, I believe we need to stop asking for it and learn to trust in our vision.
My dear friend Nancy used to say “fight for your vision.” I choose to word it differently, suggesting you honor your vision. Nancy would say the following during a “critique” session on her workshops. “If I give feedback that you don’t agree with, fight for your vision!” Essentially she was saying, her opinion is just that, her opinion and could be wrong. And furthermore, she wanted you stand up for (honor) your vision.
After a discussion with Dewitt Jones about the idea of critique sessions, I no longer do them. Rather, I choose to do image celebrations!! In these, I am happy to share everything I adore about the presented images, however, I try my best to steer away from telling the image maker what they should or should not do to make it better. I feel doing so is imposing my vision on theirs. If I feel compelled to offer a suggestion, I will typically start by saying, might you consider… I find this to be a much softer approach and is my attempt to honor their vision.
While I understand the desire for feedback, especially as you are learning your craft, I would encourage you to trust that you know what your vision is, what you like, and how you want to present your images. Try to ween yourself from needing the feedback or approval of others. Rather, honor your vision.
I personally love this image. It is stunning. As for critique sessions they have in the past been an excellent learning tool for me. My early critiques taught me composition, exposure, etc. Sometimes, after an image is critiqued I dislike the image. I did learn how to fight for my vision however and take any criticism with caution. Thank you for broaching this subject.
As I mentioned in the post, there is a place for feedback especially early on. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.
I love this concept! Just finished a workshop in DC which included critique sessions every day. I winced a lot. In future, I’ll honor my vision.
Ouch!, Getting that kind of feedback can really be hurtful! I’m sorry you had to pay money to be wincing!
First off, “Powerful images JB! They have the definite “WOW” factor!”
As to respond to your post of “(a) Honor your visions; (b) Fight your visions; and, (c) Choose to do image celebrations…” and from my personal opinion, there are no right or wrong answers… I will add that we as photographers and artists should “embrace” our passions and visions.
We either do our craft for ourselves and do not need to share as we are not doing it for others and merely for ourselves or within close family and friends… and/or we do what we do for the recognition and positive or negative feedback so that we can grow, continue to develop, enhance, engage and perfect our visions… or, as a profession to sell our work to others or have others learn from our visions… or, as a community of artists, share visions and accept others… This list easily can go on and on…
I personally believe that as time goes by, as we age, mature and that technology evolves, I believe that our visions continue to change, grow and expand the knowledge that we once had and continue as everything changes. Staying the same is not growth. As the Earth and everything is in constant movement and change, so should we. My visions from when I was young have evolved and changed through the years. Wish I knew then what I know now… Then again, digital technology, computer and software technology has changed to the point that it is an exciting time to expand, see beyond the horizon, enhance and ambrace our visions.
Thank you for your feedback Stephan!
Thank you Barbara!
“I believe we need to stop asking for it and learn to trust in our vision…”
I totally agree! However, nowadays we sometimes feel compelled to ask because we’re trying to get social media interaction. A reality of our times.
And that my friend is another can of worms! I’ve written and speak about that very issue. I ask in my lecture…. Who do you listen to? One is social medial and the dangers of it. 🙂
I totally agree with your idea of honoring one’s vision, and I have used that approach for many years in my workshops. Yet at the same time, people attend a workshop to learn how they might translate their vision more successfully, and I believe that as a guide, we as teachers can still honor their vision while offering suggestions that may help them achieve a stronger result. That’s what people say they love about my review sessions. I approach a critique by first honoring or acknowledging what someone was trying to express before I jump into any other ideas or comments. When I don’t offer any suggestions, students have later told me that they want my ‘critical comments’! Somewhere in there is a delicate balance that provides them with the learning they came for, and the celebration of their vision. I believe that celebrating or acknowledging someone’s vision first keeps the doors of receptivity open for any other comments or suggestions that may come afterward.
And you have been very successful Brenda! I think the key is that you HONOR them and their vision first. And, I’ll say it again, there is a place and time for feedback. The point I was trying to make is that ultimately, we need to honor OUR vision, especially when someone sees it differently, and we don’t agree. Thanks for your valued thoughts my friend.