Monday, August 04, 2014

Dog Shit Shooters

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A photographer who I'm friends with on Facebook was sort of complaining about other photographers on photo forums and FB photography pages who, when he posts pics on those pages, are often telling him what he should or could have done better or how he should have snapped his image.  I should mention the photographer registering the complaint is very good. I mean very good. And he's fairly well known amongst many photographers who hope to ascend to his level of photography.

My FB friend says that, when these self-appointed gurus and un-asked-for mentors jump in to offer how he should have photographed his images, he often takes a look at their photography (on their personal photo pages) and, invariably he says, their work is "dog shit." (His words, not mine.)

Now, I'll be the first to admit that "dog shit" is a rather vague and non-specific term, unless you're talking about actual dog shit, you know, the stuff that comes out of a dog's shitter.  "Dog shit" certainly doesn't conform to what's generally considered to be "constructive criticism" even if other people are often well aware, somewhat specifically, of what that means when describing someone's photography.  I should also mention that I too believe I know dog shit when I see it, although I rarely (if ever) would publicly label another photographer's work "dog shit" even if/when I believe that's a term that describes it well.

Photography wise, dog shit is in the eyes of the beholder. One photographer's dog shit is another photographer's "amazing" work.  It's also true there are many photographers whose (rightfully perceived as) dog shit work is, instead, amazing... albeit amazing mostly in their own eyes if not too many others' eyes. (Except, perhaps, the eyes of their Moms, their significant others who would rather avoid an argument, actual real-life friends, and people who don't know dog shit from dog Shinola.)

Years ago, most photographers work, whether it was dog shit, actually amazing, or somewhere in between, had much smaller audiences. Usually, their audiences were comprised of their families and friends, and clients if the work involved clients. The internet, of course, has changed all that. Now, everyone's work can be and routinely is seen by hundreds, thousands, and sometimes more. That's a two-edged blade, of course. Being a photographer is very different these days, at least in terms of who and how many see your work. It's not only about who and how many get to see your work, but those viewers are invited (whether directly or indirectly) to criticize your work by virtue of you posting your work on forums and photography pages.

Here's my advice cuz you knew I was going to give some, me being me and all: If you're going to post your work for the masses to see, regardless of your level of skill, i.e., whether you're a dog shit shooter or something better, you'd best develop some rhino skin. Haters are going to hate. It's human nature... unfortunately. And the internets are a gathering place for haters.

1 comment:

Bill Giles said...

It seems to me that there are lots of people taking and posting pictures nowadays that suffer from fundamental errors that no one should make. And then, they get all sorts of praise for the photos. The most common error is bad framing. The subject is a tiny bit in the center of the frame and can hardly be seen. If the picture taker doesn't have a zoom lens, they could move closer. People so often ignore backlight or extraneous lights that get in the photo. This happened to me last Saturday night at a reunion dinner. I was in a group photo at the restaurant and there was a wall light above the group. The picture taker framed the photo with the wall light in the frame and the exposure was thrown way off with most of the faces obscured by glare. It's not so much that the photos are so bad as it is that the people taking them don't seem to feel any need to do better.