"However, the suggestion that "neophytes" (howsoever defined) should probably refrain from posting on this site I cannot agree with."
Just to make it clear: I was referring to the posting of newbies images
, not of written matter, which is something quite else, so I just want to make that clear in this context which, as you wrote earlier, refers to the 'critique section'.
From my own perspective, and which pretty much all my post was about, a newbie getting feedback on his photographs
amounts to brainwashing by the person providing the comments; that person can only, if honest, give opinion based on his likes or dislikes. Of course, reducing the rôle of 'mentor' to this level doesn't play nicely in the ears of those making a business out of doing this very thing; as I was in my pro days, selling pictures of beautiful ladies in order to sell beer or scotch or rent out trucks, road diggers and cranes isn't an honest, objective view on anything: it's a hard sell to make money.
For example, I post this shot below. What in hell can any LuLa reader or armchair 'visual expert' say about it that is going to make an iota of difference to me? I've had a successful career in pro photography already and what I do now is totally for myself, which is exactly what any amateur is doing for himself, too. The difference is that it took me many years to get back into amateur shoes, and many more to find a pair that I felt fitted me, which is something the permanent amateur never has to do: he's already wearing them.
The typical LuLa critique provider is going to say he like/dislikes it, and his reasons are going to be about lost shadow detail, indistinct subject matter etc. etc. all of which is bullshit: the image, when I felt compelled to take it, spoke to me of lost love, of a sophisiticated, well-educated and extremely capable woman I'd met when she was just a girl of fifteen, and all sorts of things a third person will never know unless I choose to tell that person. So much the value of critique. Hence the inclusion of Without Prejudice
. Equipment? All obsolete or at the kindest, obsolescent, neither bits available new anymore.
Photography, amateur, is about self. What you photograph is what you are. Nobody else can be you on your behalf; you have to do it for yourself. That's why I repeat: all anybody can teach you, without harming you, is mechanics and, with luck, maybe provide a pleasant guided tour holiday somewhere. And there's nothing in the world wrong with that, as long as the sell is honest. Personally, I wouldn't take such a thing as a gift. Neither would I take one of those group 'model shoots' as a gift. I can think of no photographic horror worse than having to do it in a herd.
That's why I advocate reading and browsing the Internet to find a genre that speaks to you more loudly and insistently than any other. When, and if you do, you've found your niche; then, just go for it. Your eye will already have formed or recognized itself at that point, so all you need, if you have not got it yet, is some mechanical advice. In that way, free from opinion from people
, only the images you see will speak and influence you and help you find yourself
. And that's pretty much all there is to photography