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Author Topic: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark  (Read 1888 times)

David Eckels

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OK, go ahead and laugh.

A couple weeks ago, I actually paid for a membership on 500px. I thought it might be worth seeing what other photographers thought about my work and perhaps provide exposure to a lot of other quality images. So, after you get up off the floor and have stopped laughing, I had been told by reputable sources that 500px was a quality act, that if I wanted to see how other photographers approached popular subjects, I should check it out, see what I could learn.

So I did. The fact that I could gain affection from"real" photographers, was a bonus, but I didn't (and still don't) know what a "pulse" is. I posted a small cohort of images (couple dozen), curious to see what my peers thought, I awaited the coming denouement.  8)

Hey, I was shooting at an average pulse of about 90, not bad I thought. "Affections" from others in the 20-40 range, each a hundred plus "views" so at least I could see and chart my progress, I thought... I began to study which images had higher pulses, more likes, how they compared to "successful" photographers' and began selecting posts based on these insidious criteria. David, David, David, what's happening to you?  :'(

Then my dreams of "critical acclaim" and "riches beyond belief" were dashed on the rocks of cruel reality.

Bots. Crawlers. All manner of profane AI.

I never knew that you could create scripts that would play the game of maximizing likes and followers automatically! I didn't believe that such a site would cynically exploit the natural human tendencies for wanting to connect with other artists, for seeking honest and objective criticism, to be appreciated for creative expression, and the desire to produce something that someone else could value. I am not talking about money, I just was thinking maybe I could garner five seconds of attention instead of the blink of an eye. You know, quid pro quo. David, David, David  :P

When "someone" liked one of my images, I would take a look at their portfolio and like only images that I truly wished I had taken myself; I  thought that was a sufficient complement :o I "followed" only a few people, mostly those I recognized, but alas, Slobodan seems not to frequent the site often ;) I was so excited when I got up to seven "followers" after two weeks, but then four of them left me, abandoned me, all in one day, shattered and broken I was, on the dark and dingy sidewalk of dawning realization. I'd been mugged! Later confirmed by internet "research" I learned of robo admirers and followers and all sorts of disingenuous ingenuity. David, David, David. Silly me. Grow up!

I should have listened to RobC more carefully.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 06:15:41 PM by David Eckels »
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JNB_Rare

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 11:19:44 AM »

You mean to tell me that all those young, scantily-clad Eastern European women who recently followed me on Flickr aren't genuine?  :o

Peter McLennan

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 11:21:13 AM »

Heh.  Well said, David.  Internet praise is false.  By far, the most valid and encouraging praise for our work comes from ourselves.  Actual cold, hard cash a close second.

For me, the best validation of my work is seeing it on my friends' walls.
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Peter McLennan

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 11:21:41 AM »

You mean to tell me that all those young, scantily-clad Eastern European women who recently followed me on Flickr aren't genuine?  :o

 :) :) :)
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opgr

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 04:15:39 PM »

So David, listen, I have an uncle in afrika, and he's like a real prince, and he has like a kazillion dollars that he needs to move to an off-shore account. I don't suppose you can be of assistance?

I "followed" only a few people,

This is your only mistake. You need to start following mindlessly many people, or many people mindlessly, because you're not really interested in their production, but half of them will follow back. Then once you have a decent following, you can simply unfollow everyone and find the true gems to follow for a clean homefeed.


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Oscar

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 06:05:56 PM »

So now, David, you must realize that LuLa is the only website where all critiques are absolutely correct, even (or perhaps especially) when they contradict each other.
I think your original post needed more megapixels and a severe cropping (ask Russ just how to do that.)

 8)
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farbschlurf

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2017, 04:36:21 AM »

... if it's of some comfort, David,  I stepped in this trap, too, even more than once!

This whole "social media" thing (in the broadest sense) is BS. I wonder how many "likes" or whatever different it's called elsewhere are not of human origin. Sometimes I got the impression the machines took over, already ... seeing how "important" this has gotten for many (specially younger) people really makes me angry. (Being socialized and gaining self-esteem on the base of robo-liked computer-altered pictures on instagram??? OMG)

On the other hand: I fail to find a group of people in real life that is really able to talk about photography in the last 20+ years. Even there, after a while the "social thing" takes over and it's more about "you like my picture, than I like your picture". Humans seem to work like that, it's all about relationships. If you don't play that game properly you're going to be "the freak" or "anorak" pretty quick, which happened to me rather often ;-)
Hard to get real feedback. I'm a relative newbie here, but I tried a lot and have to say this is one of the better places, by far!

Seems like photographers in particular are a complicated breed, also ...

((Sorry, I'm afraid I got a miserable night, should have another cup of coffee ...))

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David Eckels

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2017, 12:01:17 PM »

Thanks, all. Oscar, I am interested in that Afrika deal! Peter, if I could find those women, I wouldn't need consoling ;) Eric and Stefan, you both converge on a point that I think is important and has been touched upon in another thread regarding the existential utility of LuLa. Perhaps the 21st century analog of art shows is social media; while contests can be OK, a show allows connection to everyday people, artists and not, alike. And of course, shows address Peter's point re cold hard cash. I, too, am flattered if a few of my friends would hang one of my images in their home; I'd give it away.

But I think Stefan makes a great point re "talking about photography" and this is why I subscribe to LuLa, the future of which I hope is secure. A lot of the "User Critiques" are simply +1 or, more often, silence. That's fine, but silence is ambiguous and I think part of it stems from a reluctance to offer suggestions. Criticism was what brought me to LuLa and at first I drew a bunch when I posted a few "great" images! :D I had several generous contributions from Slobodan and Brandt and teaching from Russ, and Rob, and others on aesthetics and creativity and why bother. Some of which I agree with, some of which I don't, but all greatly appreciated. For example, cropping an image can greatly improve it, depending on the subject. I understand the desire to get it right "in camera" but I often press the shutter knowing I am going to crop or change the AR; maybe it's a "film" thing. Most importantly, however, I gained a glimmer of what it is to see my images through others' eyes.

I think there is something lacking from a post of a single image (or even 4) along with the request for criticism. I often post for C&C an image I am pondering or experimenting with. In other words, it may not represent my "best" work. The "Landscape Showcase" thread seems to be more suited to presenting a polished image; but some of those guys are accomplished pros! What is lacking with this single frame (or few frames) type of approach is that it lacks feedback on a body of work, a legitimate need that I started a discussion about with a fellow with the moniker "Redwood Guy" a few years ago here. He was soon run off, I guess for his unconventional views or perhaps it was his communications style; I never had a problem.

Once, I attended an Adobe workshop in Las Vegas and was offered the opportunity for a portfolio critique. At $25, I felt it was well worth it and so I put together a group of my "best" shots, mostly landscapes, and nervously awaited my "exam." Meanwhile, I attended sessions and was particularly taken by one on PP in color for B/W  by Vincent Versace, a Nikon Ambassador. Needless to say, I was impressed, thinking, "God, I wish I could shoot like that!" Well guess who my criticizer was to be, Vinnie, as they called him! Oh f**k, I thought, not "Vinnie!" In my career, I had stood in front of some of the most scientifically critical audiences one can imagine, and learned to thrive. But in front of Vinnie, I was shaking like a leaf; I felt like I'd gone on stage to give a lecture totally naked. Well, at least I remembered my iPad.

Versace went through each image silently, all of them, as I, in excruciating nervousness looked on. I couldn't read his body language, which didn't help. And then he began to teach me about each one. It wasn't "I like this" or "I don't like that." He did say there was a couple that he was particularly taken with and made no suggestions (high praise!), but each of the others, he made a point that would improve the image or I should say rendering from his point of view. It was as if he was making the image his own and asking himself, "How can I make this better?" And actually, it was fairly simple: An enhancement here, a correction there, too bright (paint over it with a color from the image), lighten the subject and darken the surrounding to really emphasize the subject. I learned an enormous amount in that half hour about aesthetics and how to see an image, all of which I remember to this day. Yes, some of it was technical, but it was oriented to the aesthetic of the subject, which he never questioned. No, he did not recommend any cropping!  ;D

When I went on 500px, I wanted to post such a portfolio that I had carefully curated as my best. As if Versace might see it. Like an art show, where patrons might pick out one or two or none as being of interest. Connection. Image as language. Perhaps this is what is meant by "story." You're right Stefan, photographers are complicated, artists in their own right, and worth being around, in relationship. Even though Rob C might say, "There's nothing new under the sun!" ;D  This is what I have found at LuLa, but we don't have a mechanism for portfolio commentary or whatever you want to call it. In the User Critiques, sometimes we offer what we might believe is an improvement for the OP, take it or leave it, which can downward spiral into a critique of critique. Maybe that's useful, maybe it's not. Eric sort of alluded to this, but I think gave it more credit.

PS The title to this thread was meant to be serious/funny satire. Hope that was clear.

farbschlurf

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2017, 03:22:57 PM »

Interesting thoughts. I don't have any good idea about how it would be possible to get such a "portfolio review", I think this is not easy "online", on any website or forum. Probably it's necessary to have real prints in the hands and a real person right in front of you. I don't know. Maybe I'm old fashioned. But that would be something, I agree! I also got some sets and books I basically would like to show and discuss about.

When it comes to single pictures or smaller sets, even small Bodys of work, I have started to ask specific questions. "Is this too dark", "How is the color balance", something like this. I am often really hesitating about those things, but it also makes it easier to answer and to come over with other points oneself has not considered. Just showing a picture sometimes makes it hard to get into it. Where to start? I think and hope, specific questions make it easier to trigger a discussion.


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RSL

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2017, 03:55:50 PM »

David, what you actually learned from "Vinnie" was that hindsight is twenty twenty. And there's something we all can learn from Ecclesiastes: "All is vanity."

And yes. All of us should listen carefully to Rob. He's been through the whole thing.

 ::)

luxborealis

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2017, 06:54:50 PM »

Wonderful thread, Favid. Thanks foe initiating it. And wha5 a story – so we’ll told, too.

I’m sure many of us have gone “looking for love” in the wrong places at one time or another! We all want recognition for our hard work and, more importantly, impartial, honest critique. Which is why, as you point out, Lu-La is such a helpful resource.

Thanks, David, for baring your soul before all!
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2017, 07:46:49 PM »

David,

Here are my suggestions (a bit more serious than my previous post) about how to find the satisfaction you are seeking.

It's not easy, but if you can find a small group of photographers who live near you and who would be willing to meet from time to time to show and discuss recent work, with serious critiques, it can be a big help. In my case, my first "photographers group" grew out of a workshop that several of us had taken with Minor White fifty-one years ago. Over the years since, people came and went, but within a few years there were a core of us who were offering useful commentary. I now participate in two such groups, one with eight regular members (and occasional one-time guests) and the other with four members, including three of us from the original workshop. Each group meets about every two months and each member tries to bring up to ten new images to each meeting. The larger group has one rule: We meet at 7:15 pm, and from then until 8 pm we gossip, and talk about equipment and techniques. The prints start going up at 8 pm, and from then on there is essentially no technical talk at all, only esthetic critique.

It helps a lot that we all have different photographic styles and work with different subject matter, so we are never competitive. Typically none of us make our living from photography, but we are all advanced photographers who are passionate about it. We have had several group exhibits at local libraries, schools and colleges.

If you ever expect to be in the Boston vicinity, send me a PM and I'll get you an invitation to a meeting.

-Eric

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drmike

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2017, 02:46:16 AM »

How I lament the passing of photoSIG for all its failings. You did frequently get good critiques and the moderation was pretty fierce as well.
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Rob C

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2017, 05:15:03 AM »

I might suggest that what's not realised here - perhaps by anyone, is this: photography is essentially a lonely occupation.

Akin to writing, it's best done alone, with or without music. I have never heard of an author sitting down with a group of other authors and writing a best-seller, a personal masterpiece. When writers sit down in groups they produce a tabloid newsaper, a tv or movie script. It's your choice which way you want to fly.

You can have photography or you can have a social club with a "theme". It's up to you, but ultimately there can be no overlapping.

Slobodan has a nifty slogan: when everyone thinks alike, nobody thinks.

Rob

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2017, 09:11:51 AM »

One word, Dave: Russians!

JNB_Rare

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2017, 10:04:24 AM »

One challenge with critiques is, of course, personalities. Some posters are open and hopeful of constructive criticism, and others are decidedly prickly (and really should be using the "without prejudice" thread). Quality of critique ranges greatly, too, as you discovered with V.V. If I like an image, I do like to say so, even if it's usually a +1 on Eric M's post (he often summarizes my thoughts for me before I have them  :) ). If one ASKS for a critique, I will do so IF I feel that my suggestion would genuinely improve the image. Of course, that "improvement" would be my interpretation, and may not be the OP's.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2017, 10:09:33 AM »

https://www.facebook.com/vtdotco/videos/1537249596416877/

EDIT: This is a nice parody on our need for social media gratification.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 03:21:59 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic »
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opgr

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2017, 10:13:37 AM »

I might suggest that what's not realised here - perhaps by anyone, is this: photography is essentially a lonely occupation.

No more lonely than fishing is, appropriate considering most people's hunter-gatherer-approach to photography here. Additionally, most people know that it is lonely at the top in general, but they may not desire to be there at all.
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Oscar

opgr

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2017, 10:14:40 AM »

... and others are decidedly prickly (and really should be using the "without prejudice" thread).

+100
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Oscar

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: How naive am I?! or perhaps, Coming of age? or a plaintive cry in the dark
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2017, 10:58:25 AM »

... photography is essentially a lonely occupation...

Funny you said that, I came up with a similar phrase long time ago: photography is a solitary endeavour.
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