Why you shouldn’t give too much weight to anonymous online critics

I found this posting on a photography-related social experiment very interesting:

Back in 2006, Flickr user André Rabelo submitted the above photograph to the group pool of DeleteMe!, a group whose members vote on photos to weed out any photos that aren’t “incredible pictures, amazing, astonishing, perfect”. Sadly, the photograph was very quickly removed by popular vote.

Click through for the punch and to read the comments on this experiment. I’ve included my favorite comments from the post below.

This little “social experiment” reveals a few things:
1) There are people who consider themselves photographers who have no sense of history, no sense of what came before them. This is a rapidly changing business and because of the internet so many people “look” at a bunch of photos and then consider themselves “educated” about photography without ever really studying the details and really understanding it.
2) As someone already pointed out, since there is no historical knowledge, there is little historical context, therefore they can’t understand or appreciate it – or even speak intelligently about it.
3) There are those that only look at images through a strictly mechanical/technical prism – “it’s not sharp”, “the focus is off”, etc. While those are definitely important aspects of appraising photographs, they aren’t the only criteria – composition, moments, emotions, color, light, etc are also important.
4) Those of you who think this is a “crap picture” – it’s not great because of who took it. It’s a wonderful moment – a ‘decisive moment” as HCB called them. And if a “bulk” think a picture is “great” despite the fact that it’s really crap, what does that make it? Look at popular music, popular television, movies, etc – just because a large number of people “like” something does not mean it’s really any good. The converse is also true.
5) I just think it’s hilarious that individuals who have the time to pontificate about the quality of this image didn’t recognize/know it – regardless of what they thought about it!

and my favorite– the moral of the story, I think:

Why let any critic – seemingly schooled or otherwise – dictate the way you shoot.

Art is subjective. Photographers, continue to be inspired by the work you see! Feedback is important, but one person’s opinion is just that. I’ve read that one should critically look at at least 100 photographs a day by other photographers, examining all the elements. Understand how it was created, consider how you might have done it differently, but judgement is not your job. Rather, use it to educate yourself. Then, Scott Bourne tells us to shoot every day, even when– especially when, we’re uninspired. Get out there, try those techniques and grow your own.

Keep shooting. Haters to the left.


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