Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Opinions - Is The Photographer Right or The Critic?

This image that I posted to my stream a short time ago is of the lovely and talented +Coral Jade a street performer, model and niche arts manufacturer who is currently in Melbourne and has worked all over Australia.

Taken using the street lighting on Melbourne's Southbank it shows Coral posing in a break between performances.

After posting this to my stream I noticed I had a critic - I don't mind that in the slightest, I'm always interested to hear what other people say even if their comments are harsh. It helps me to grow as a photographer.

In this case the response was that her colouring was off and that I had cut off an entire hand and her toes and that the background was far too busy and the image wasn't sharp. This person felt I should also have had Coral move to get rid of the background hoops and also do something with the white balance to counter the street lighting.

I thought about these things for a while and decided that I would not have changed my approach in this case. I wasn't shooting Coral the model, I was shooting Coral the street performer. This was an non arranged and unrequested pose that she decided to throw in at the end of a performance for the benefit of the photographers who were on the photowalk I'd organised. A really nice gesture to the people there and one that caused a few extra dollars to land in her buskers box.

In shooting the performer, I wanted to show what she was performing with - the hoops. Some of her shots involved all of them. I was capturing a moment that I had seen with the performance, the lighting and the feel of the river reflections and Melbourne in the background. The shot encompasses exactly what I wanted.

Does this make the critic wrong? No it doesn't, but their criticism was based on the thoughts of someone who was not there and has a different image intent to mine. I wanted to convey the moment. He wanted a model shoot with hoops. Could they ahieve the same result? Not in a million years. A studio image would have been bland in comparison. It would show a girl with some hoops - not a performer who has just finished a show and is playing up to her audience with a brilliant smile.

This morning another photographer posted an image of a model he had posed and requested critique. I posted that the image was good but that the lighting cut off one of her hands at the fingers which looked awkward. Another photographer posted some other comments about the focus and depth of field. We both wrote about what the image conveyed to us. Just after posting these, I reconsidered and posted another comment to ensure that the person who had requested the critique understood the most important message. That it does not matter what I or anyone else thinks of or feels about an image. It is what the photographer and the model feel that is important. They are the ones who shared the moment, only they know the magic that was exchanged. Photography is all about sharing and conveying a feeling. It doesn't matter what else is going on as long as the message gets across.

If you receive criticism of your images, think about it carefully and decide if it is important for you. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't. Be your own critic before you share. You are your own best critic.

There is an album of Coral's entire performance. If you see her performing by the river or up on Swanston St where she often is of a weekend night stop for a moment and invest a little of your life in her show. It's a fun spectacle to watch with considerable physical prowess and skill pulled off by a very attractive young woman. Remember that she makes her living from her audience so if you enjoy the experience drop whatever you're comfortable with.


  1. It is what the photographer and the model feel that is important. They are the ones who shared the moment, only they know the magic that was exchanged.


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  3. You're so right Paul. Each person sees something different in an image. Each opinion is equally valid and stands true to that individual. Critiquing can be a valuable easy of learning. As someone still very early in my photographic evolution, comments and critiques help me to grow. Sometimes it's a simple case of pointing out something I missed, other times it's validation of an artistic decision I made, and other times it is merely a suggestion of a direction I simply hadn't considered.

    One thing that it's important for us all to understand is that a photographer has a personal connection with a photo that's been posted. Approach with respect, consider the words you use, be thoughtful and honest, and your words will be heard. Being aggressive, offensive or down right rude is inappropriate.

  4. Thanks Rantz (Charles!)

    Fran - absolutely. Respect is what its all about.


I'll be pleased to read your constructive comments and respond