Reaching Skyward

I was talking with a friend the other day about some upcoming local and national photography shows of various ilk.  It came up from the conversation he had entered some of his works into some events that are juried for entry and of his 3 entries, only 1 made it into the event.   He was pretty discouraged by the experience.

Now, I'm going to get on a soapbox. :)

I hate almost everything about the idea of 'peer critique.'  Here's why. 

Your peers [usually] aren't your audience. 

We, human animals do not have a natural ability to process constructive criticism.  The idea behind photography critique is to learn from an outside party ways that your photograph might have been improved.  

But, really what you are doing when seeking critique is seeking confirmation of your own opinions on the quality of something.   If your peers show your work admiration then you enjoy a small ego boost and healthy levels of encouragement.  However, if your peers admonish your work the negative encourage almost always carries more weight than the positive.  

Simply put, if you are seeking encouragement through critique you have much more to lose than to gain.

This isn't to say that a person's photography can't benefit technically from the input of a more experienced peer.  But let's explore that word: experience.

We develop through experience.  Physically our brains develop neural paths based on sensory input.  Put another way, our experiences work to define who we are and how we see.   The application of another person's experience to your art might technically improve the work in terms of conformity (to what is largely an arbitrary set of rules) but in doing so, your work becomes democratized..

To wrap up, I'm not suggesting that a person should never submit work for critique or jury.   I am suggesting however that our increasingly connected world-wide-network of award winning photography 'experts' should serve you more as a source of inspiration than as a reference for quality.

This is why, whenever someone shows me something for critique, I will only comment on those aspects of a work that I find appealing. 

Don't let other people's opinions of your work discourage you.   Just keep doing your thing and the pieces will fall into place.

..drops mic.. steps down from soapbox. :)