It has been brought to my attention that we have, once again, insider complaints about the quality of critiques. Over the last 18 years this topic seems to rise to the surface over and over again. As I have stated before, the print critiques can only be as good as the effort put out by the whole group. That means when you are looking at work by other members, you have to give them the same attention that you expect when it is your turn to put your work up.
That being said, there is always many other things that come into play when we consider what constitutes a good critique vs. a bad critique. First, an open and honest dialog has to be tolerated, even when it comes to hearing negative comments about your work. I have heard it said many times, by many people, “I want to hear the honest truth about my work.” However, I see much resistance from people when it comes to hearing the negative comments.
It is the resistance that shuts down the critiques and comments that we all might benefit from. I say the critique sessions are a bit like open-mike night at the local coffee shop; you might have to sit through many boring performances before you reach that WOW! moment. But after you have had a few of those great evenings, you know it is worth the wait, so you come back.
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid making comparisonsabout who seems to get a better critique, and which work is more deserving of the time we spend with it. When it comes to a beautiful landscape image, sometimes it is best enjoyed simply by looking. After all some work is just more provocative and by definition it will provoke more conversation.
Sometimes….most of the time, we have more work lined up to look at than we will have time for. This is a good thing. The group has become more productive in recent years. I don’t know if this is the result of the digital transition and printing images has become so much easier, not necessarily better, but quicker. Sometimes it is just impossible to get through the list in one evening. I think the intensity of our critiques drop off when we feel rushed to get through them all. Perhaps we can find a solution to this?
So let’s all relax and enjoy the company of our fellow photographers. Look at the work and speak to the photographers who share. Stand and listen when you are the one who shares. Be patient and let the WOW! come to you….and it will.
Posted by Larry Vogel