July 11, 2014
Why I Don’t Critique Other People’s Work
Minneapolis Power Lines
People often ask me if I would look at their work and critique it. And while I would love to accommodate, I am uncomfortable critiquing another person’s work and here’s why:
First, I’m unqualified. All I know is what I like and what I don’t like, and that should be irrelevant to you. Many think that because I create images they admire, this qualifies me to comment on their work, it does not. I am only qualified to judge my own images.
Second and most importantly, I believe that your opinion about your work should be the only one that matters. Your opinion is more important than mine or any other and it is the only one that can help you achieve true satisfaction from your work.
I used to ask others about my work, but in truth I was really looking for validation. I wanted the person to say “these are wonderful images, you are a wonderful photographer.” But even if they said those words, it didn’t make it so. Perhaps they were just being kind, and even if they were sincere, it was still just their opinion.
At the end of the day I need to respect and love my images and If I don’t, then it doesn’t matter how many people tell me that my images are wonderful.
How do you learn to trust your opinion over others? I think it starts with having a Vision of your work. Once you know how your images should look, then it becomes irrelevant what others think. Having a Vision of your work gives you great purpose and confidence.
When you don’t have that Vision, then the opinion of others is the only tool you have to gauge your work. And because you can never please everyone: true satisfaction can never come because you are subject to the changing whims and fancies of public opinion.
People frequently tell me what’s wrong with my images or what I should have done differently, but it doesn’t phase me. I know what I was trying to accomplish and only I know how close I came to fulfilling that Vision, they do not.
Tonight I was printing a copy of The Angel Gabriel and as I held the image in my hands I thought: this is beautiful, I love this image.
That satisfaction cannot come from another telling me how wonderful the image is, and it cannot be taken from me even if the image is unpopular.
My opinion is the only one that matters to me, and yours should be the only one that matters to you And that is why I don’t critique other’s images.