Today, I’m tackling photographer-on-photographer criticism. And while some may read this article (as well, some may not) and comment that criticism can be valuable, I’m here to dispel that belief.
We’ve all encountered photographers being critical of other photographers. We may even have been the target of criticism from another photographer. It’s never easy. Sometimes, it builds a thick skin, and sometimes, it leads to discouragement. It is rampant within the photographic community, and it’s never beneficial.
Feedback Versus Criticism
Criticism isn’t beneficial because the very nature of criticism is demeaning. When someone criticizes someone else, it breeds frustration— frustration for the person being critical, when they don’t see the change they feel needs to take place, and frustration for the person receiving the criticism.
If you feel that you’ve benefited from past criticism, I applaud you. And if you think that you’ve helped someone else by giving criticism, then I might say you’re getting criticism confused with feedback.
The difference between feedback and criticism is that criticism focuses on what is wrong, whereas feedback focuses on improvement. Giving a photographer feedback can be invaluable, but it has to be focused on how the photographer can get better.
Criticism implies blame, it devalues, and it discourages. Feedback encourages change, offers solutions, and adds value. The next time you receive advice from another photographer regarding your own photography, consider: “Is this criticism, or is this feedback?” Once you know the difference, you can decide whether to take the advice or disregard it.
We Can Be Better as a Photography Community
So, why are photographers so mean to each other? The answer is, I don’t know. But I do know that we can be better as a creative community. The very nature of art is that it is vulnerable. To create it, we have to be vulnerable. Criticism is damaging to our community as a whole. It holds people back for fear that if they ask for advice or seek answers, they’ll be criticized or ridiculed.
All photographers start somewhere. We’ve all needed the guidance of other, more experienced photographers in the past. If you’ve ever been helped by another photographer, then pay it forward.
If you’re a photographer who’s been fearful in the past to ask for help, I’m sorry that happened to you, and I encourage you to find a photography community that will help build you up. They do exist. Don’t be discouraged by past criticism. Allow yourself to let it go. Take both positive and negative feedback and work on your technique. Keep looking for those willing to give advice and answer questions. You got this.
Lead Image by Pixabay via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.