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.