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Thread: On the Subject of Thick Skin

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    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    On the Subject of Thick Skin

    I put this thread squarely in the Leica forum because I'm certain that most Leica users have spent their share of time justifying their gear choices to themselves and all-knowing perfect strangers willing to take a shot at their gear choices.

    Most of the time, however, the gear choice rationale seems much easier to summon than the defense of one's own style. I don't know about anyone else, but I can tune out a hundred nice shot opinions. Utter a dissenting critique/common, and that's the one I remember. Perhaps it's human nature or even a predisposition to earnestly evaluate all relevant criticism.

    We've all discovered that people are certainly willing to express their negative opinions in the age of the internet ... and with ferocity.

    My question is: Are the great photographers the ones with the thickest skins? Do they have an inherent ability to find relevance by ignoring nonconstructive criticism to emerge like fiery phoenixes with their shiny own visions?

    It seems that the more people that embrace photography, the more it has become a spectator sport where gangs of new wave 'traditionalists' and leather-helmeted old schoolers are trying to dictate the rules of the game. Shoot with short lenses they say, shoot with film, shoot at f8 or higher, carry small lenses, and on and on. Only the brave are willing to color outside of the lines.

    As I get older, I'm finding that I'm beginning to worry less about what anybody else tells me is the 'right' approach. I simply try to use what is in my camera bag to find the connection I'm looking for. And for me and my gradually thickening skin, I'm finding that's good enough.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Kurt,

    I can't speak for photographers, but in my experience, being great (whatever that means in each endeavor or profession) is frequently accompanied by a monomania that doesn't recognize the opinions of others, or sometimes even their existence. There are exceptions, and they tend to be nicer people to be around, and they frequently lead somewhat tortured lives. You really don't want to get too close the the former type, though. Those who do tend to sacrifice their own lives to the talent (and ego) nearby.

    I am speaking here not of the top 1%, but of the "1 or 2 a generation" type great.

    But back to mortals, I applaud you in your thick skin development. From my interested beginner standpoint, there are photographers whose work I see and think "I could do that with a lot of practice and some luck." And there are those that make me think "never in a million years". Yours is in the latter camp. It's a bit of a problem, as I'd like to find reasons to get an S2, but if the results are too obviously the photographer's skill, it argues against the equipment.

    Best,

    Matt

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    As long as Mom likes your pictures, no one else's opinion matter.
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Hi Kurt,

    Iīll start of saying that I admire the work you present at your blog! Great presences and connection to the people that you shoot.

    Does a great photographer need thick skin? I think that any artist needs a certain amount of self confidence and driving force/motivation to be able to produce great work. Driving force/motivation can be of different kind for example joy, excitement, fear of failure, pressure from expectations (yours or others) etc. Depending on personality people will handle the situation differently. Some produce better under pressure others donīt. Reaching out of oneīs comfort zone is where development is happening (in my opinion).
    There are many great shoots on your blog where I know that I myself would hesitate.
    People that criticize a picture usually think that they couldīve done it better and donīt take into account the circumstances around it. Another thing with internet forums is that many expressing criticism donīt show any portfolio or even who they are.

    I noticed with my self that depending on whoīs giving the criticism I react differently. If someone with great knowledge gives me some contructive advise Iīll happily receive it.

    The goal for me is to be able to in my head visualize the final outcome on paper when shooting at a particular moment (staged or spontaneous). Sometimes I get there most times not.

    Best Markus
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Interesting topic. Not sure I qualify today since I don't shoot Leica at the moment but not sure this is just a Leica thing anyway but I take a stab at it. First you all know who I am pretty much so won't get into the background stuff it actually bugs me the constant resume comments but I will say being on the forums for many years and being a Pro. Plus being a forum owner I get looked at with a crooked eye sometimes on what I post. Truthfully many times I never even get a comment good, bad or indifferent . Which is fine it really is not meant to be a show off thing but for me a teaching aid. For me at least I do not take my works critism as a negative as many times what I shoot is customer driven anyway. I really think the answer with critism is do not take it personally at all but as a learning tool but you also need to tune out certain comments as well. It's not so much the source of those comments it's how they are relayed back to your brain. Much of this is self confidence in yourself as well and your understanding of what your trying to accomplish as the artist. No one can tell you what's in your head when your out shooting its the expression of yourself and it really can't be critiqued in a way because your going by feelings and your reaction to a scene. Sure moving over ten feet comments will maybe help you think about the next you are out there and maybe see your composition better. Stuff like that is information to learn from.

    Now having said that there are also comments made from folks that don't have real shooting ability and are jealous. Yes I have been around the block and have seen that countless times. Those you just simply need to ignore but first recognize as such too. As a instructor myself I'm always learning too and I'm also always sharing. I think for one to be good at photography one also needs a wide open view of the world and not close off any idea. This stuff comes down to you and your personality and that maybe something internally you need to work on. But here is some advice I can give listen, filter and apply. No one is right and no one is wrong it's just a filtering mechanism you need to learn.

    But as a shooter for many many years you need to understand you are still learning, filtering and fine tuning not only your art but yourself. It's all about how you think, react and execute what's in your head and sure your abilities as well. Also as a instructor I see this very often people get ideas also on what you are saying or pick up tidbits along the way. I can tell everyone this from a instructor perspective we always have repeat folks join us and over time it is so gratifying to watch them learn , absorb, grow and execute so much better than they did than on there first workshop. Bottom line here your always growing, your always learning and your photographer will never have a ending of learning. Learn from comments and learn from mistakes and always keep pushing yourself to keep training your eye and your vision. This is ART there are no rules.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    iPad typos sorry and need another espresso. Btw you don't have to engage on justifying your gear. End of day they are tools not you.

    I'm going to add this on tools. Your vision changes in time but also sometimes that will relate to changing your tools as well to accomplish what your vision sees. Many of us change tools often ( guilty as charged) but you need to remember your vision does change or you after something you can get better with a diffrent tool in hand. So one day you may shoot wide open for a period and than you vision changes and sometimes that may require a gear change. There is absolutely no shame in whatever lens or cam you are using as long as it gets you what your after nothing else matters, name , type, fast/slow wide/long who cares as long as you execute and are happy with what you got.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Interesting topic, thanks for starting it, Kurt.

    Re criticism, I know I consider the source of criticism or praise, then respond commensurate with the source's credibility.

    Re equipment, whatever very modest ability I may have, I do try to reconcile it to gear choices. And also try to simplify gear as much as I can (have a ways to go), believing it's better to operate a few tools often and well than many tools infrequently and less effectively.

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    Senior Member atanabe's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Kurt,
    The Internet is the most hostile of environments that exist today. People can hide behind screen names and lash out for no good reason, saying things that they would never utter face to face. While they are just words and not fists they can hurt just as bad and the wounds can run deeper. Posting images, opinions or ideas can be shot down by sarcastic and caustic posters without any constructive thing to say. A thick skin is a necessary accessory if you post. I host a monthly gathering of Leica shooters here in Seattle (SLUG) where we gather to critique images and share ideas. You may want to find out if there is a like minded group where you are and do the same. It provides a good interaction between artist and viewer and I think has benifited many of our members to grow and refine their style.

    My thoughts on Leica and the Internet:
    Some feel the need to lash out at anything "expensive" that they do not have just because they are ?unhappy with their own life?. Leicas are an easy target as the demographics have always (at least as far back as I can remember) skewed to the Drs and Lawyer crowd. I am not a Dr nor a lawyer but I do own Leicas. Why? Because I enjoy photography, used to do this for a living, I marvel at the image quality (always have) and can finally afford them. Do I shoot pictures of my cat and family with it, yes and they are the best cat pictures that I have ever taken .

    Maybe the next time you post, change the Exif data to read
    Camera model: Camera
    because in the end the photographer frames the image and presses the shutter.
    -Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Senior Member dave.gt's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post
    I put this thread squarely in the Leica forum because I'm certain that most Leica users have spent their share of time justifying their gear choices to themselves and all-knowing perfect strangers willing to take a shot at their gear choices.

    Most of the time, however, the gear choice rationale seems much easier to summon than the defense of one's own style. I don't know about anyone else, but I can tune out a hundred nice shot opinions. Utter a dissenting critique/common, and that's the one I remember. Perhaps it's human nature or even a predisposition to earnestly evaluate all relevant criticism.

    We've all discovered that people are certainly willing to express their negative opinions in the age of the internet ... and with ferocity.

    My question is: Are the great photographers the ones with the thickest skins? Do they have an inherent ability to find relevance by ignoring nonconstructive criticism to emerge like fiery phoenixes with their shiny own visions?

    It seems that the more people that embrace photography, the more it has become a spectator sport where gangs of new wave 'traditionalists' and leather-helmeted old schoolers are trying to dictate the rules of the game. Shoot with short lenses they say, shoot with film, shoot at f8 or higher, carry small lenses, and on and on. Only the brave are willing to color outside of the lines.

    As I get older, I'm finding that I'm beginning to worry less about what anybody else tells me is the 'right' approach. I simply try to use what is in my camera bag to find the connection I'm looking for. And for me and my gradually thickening skin, I'm finding that's good enough.
    Hi, Kurt...

    As a long time member on another Leica forum(s), I understand your posting. Also, as a now-retired social reject , I understand the getting older part.

    It is simple for me. First, IMO, one needs to be their own person. Secondly, I have never seen anything like it where some forum posters bash Leica and call them idiots, rich snobs, stupid people and all manners of things. People spend their money on bicycles, dogs, shotguns, automobiles, and all kinds of things that cost much more but they are never bashed for it. So, I can only surmise that it is the old social warfare between the haves and the have-nots where a line (dollar amount or otherwise) has been drawn and the have-nots, being the passionate chaps they are, cannot get over that line so emotions bring out the worst in them.

    Being a have-not myself, I don't subscribe to this egocentric behavior. I do my own thing, to quote an old line, but it is what makes me happy.

    Nor do I condone someone telling someone else that they know the only true way of photographing something.

    YMMV, but that is my opinion. If you try to please them, then you have done a great disservice to yourself. So, I don't. No need to "develop a thick skin"... , I just don't concern myself with others' opinions.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian S View Post
    As long as Mom likes your pictures, no one else's opinion matter.
    Oh it's even more fun when mom says "that part is blurry" and you have to say "yes, mom I did that on purpose"

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    Senior Member chrism's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    In terms of photography, I'm an amateur and tend to take criticism quite seriously. Perhaps I lack the confidence that I really know what I'm doing, even though it is forty years since I first developed a film. But it is worth remembering that the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in some. About once or twice a year I browse the reviews of my colleagues on ratemds.com and the vitriol spewed out against good guys that I would be honoured to have treat me is quite breathtaking. That tells me that a pinch of salt, or maybe three, is needed when assessing some of these criticisms.

    Chris

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post
    It seems that the more people that embrace photography, the more it has become a spectator sport where gangs of new wave 'traditionalists' and leather-helmeted old schoolers are trying to dictate the rules of the game. Shoot with short lenses they say, shoot with film, shoot at f8 or higher, carry small lenses, and on and on. Only the brave are willing to color outside of the lines.
    That has always been the case. Check the amateur magazine scene in the sliver era of photography and the photo clubs.

    I was reading the diaries of Thomas Merton and he commented on one religious gathering/conference he had attended. He said all the monks and priests of the different religions got along very, very well. It was only the lay practitioners that were at each other's throats.

    All of the real artists I know are very confident in their work. This does not mean they don't think there is improvement that can be made in their work, but they are confident in what they do--criticism from the outside and toward the outside is irrelevant. They have become masters of their work.

    And I mean, really, who cares if someone else photos have more resolving power than mine. Photography is not an object lesson in capturing detail. Folks can try to fault me for not having the best new toy on the market, but then I get "revenge" by simply being able to make better images then they can with "inferior" tools.

    But that is also a problem with being able to talk about what is really important. The technical process (dogma, in the case of religion) is so much easier to express than what really give photography or any art it significance. Rules of composition are still dogma.

    It is only with a few artists I can have a meaningful conversation about the art. And in most cases, I am preaching to the choir. The fun is sharing those amazing insights and experiences that we all seem to have. It is a pity there is no place on the internet that that kind of community could exist. It is tough, the further you get down the path of your art, the fewer people you find at that point along the way.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Kurt

    Its my perspective that its very hard to improve without have a sense of purpose and getting constructive feedback. Your opportunity in Manilla gives you access to almost unlimited subject matter ..starting when you walk out the door . It is easy to see a body of work emerging and you have many stunning images . Stuff you didn t see in Milwaukee and your fresh eyes are reflected in your work.

    Each year in Florida there is an event called Fotofusion held in Palm Beach . It is heavily attended by some of the greatest photographers anyplace but also but some of the best photo editors . Its my annual self check . I create a portfolio of about 30 prints and I schedule up to 10 portfolio reviews . One year I had three photographers that won the Pulitzer Prize review my street work as well as the Photo Editor of Sports Illustrated and one of the major agencies . The first time through ..my ears were burning . The editor of Rolling Stone told me I had 2 images that worked (out of 30) . The editor of sports illustrated asked that I not give up my day job.

    But then the owner of one of the major agencies looked at my work ...and crossed everyone else off his schedule . He spent almost an full 60 minutes with me . I told him that I approached the work like a professional ...planned and thought out like an assignment for national geographic . He looked around at a dozen professionals in the room doing reviews .....he said everyone of those photographers wants to be you ...to be free to pursue your own vision . Then he asked me what I was trying to say with my work and helped me to see the images in that context .

    My ego took a sever pounding going through those reviews but the one pearl of wisdom made it all worth it .
    Roger Dunham
    http://rogerdunham.com/
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Kurt

    Its my perspective that its very hard to improve without have a sense of purpose and getting constructive feedback. Your opportunity in Manilla gives you access to almost unlimited subject matter ..starting when you walk out the door . It is easy to see a body of work emerging and you have many stunning images . Stuff you didn t see in Milwaukee and your fresh eyes are reflected in your work.
    I really have difficulty in understanding folks not being able to use their gear in their own neighborhood and have to go to alien lands to feel unencumbered.

    Does this have anything to do with Leica? I think not.
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I really have difficulty in understanding folks not being able to use their gear in their own neighborhood and have to go to alien lands to feel unencumbered.
    Because the world is full of different people each with their own inspiration. It is as easy as that.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I really have difficulty in understanding folks not being able to use their gear in their own neighborhood and have to go to alien lands to feel unencumbered.

    Does this have anything to do with Leica? I think not.
    Vivek

    On the matter of Leica ....of course not. The Leica forum happens to be where Kurt posts his work and he feels at home here . Isn t that what we want ?

    On the observation about where to shoot ..there are three dimensions .

    One.. the receptivity of people to photographers . In much of America people are very distrustful of photographers and expect the very worst intentions . This makes much of the street photography as shown by Kurt impossible . In large events and public places you can shoot pretty much at will but even there you will often get a cold reception . I just got back from Cuba and there I could shoot at will.....people were very receptive and comfortable ...often happy that I choose them to photograph.

    Two ...access to interesting people and places . Kurt is in a very large urban environment . The weather is warm and the population is poor financially ..this means everyday life takes place in the open . The ability to get to good target rich environments easily and on a repeated basis is the dream of any street photographer . Yes you can do this in many cities ..but I can t in Atlanta . I live in the suburbs and I can tell you from experience that street shooting in the city isn t recommended .

    Three ....the excitement of experiencing sights and scenes for the first time . This doesn t mean that you can’t find good things to shoot almost anywhere ..but if you enjoy street photography then you really have to find a few good streets .

    Has nothing to do with equipment.
    Roger Dunham
    http://rogerdunham.com/
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    A brief response:

    a) my mom doesn't get my work

    b) I think rock n roll, particularly punk rock (even though I'm not a huge fan actually), has a great lesson for artists of all kinds. You have to believe in what you do like there's nothing else to believe in. You have to be able to listen to the legit criticism, and figure out if and how you're going to let it impact what you do. And for all the rest, and sometimes even good advice, you just have to say "f*** it", and just do you.

    Thick skin good. Thick head bad.

    Why do I shoot what I shoot, with the gear I use? Because I want to. (this currently includes fashion/editorial/beauty and model tests with Leica and a fuji 690)
    --David

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Vivek

    On the matter of Leica ....of course not. The Leica forum happens to be where Kurt posts his work and he feels at home here . Isn t that what we want ?

    On the observation about where to shoot ..there are three dimensions .

    One.. the receptivity of people to photographers . In much of America people are very distrustful of photographers and expect the very worst intentions . This makes much of the street photography as shown by Kurt impossible . In large events and public places you can shoot pretty much at will but even there you will often get a cold reception . I just got back from Cuba and there I could shoot at will.....people were very receptive and comfortable ...often happy that I choose them to photograph.

    Two ...access to interesting people and places . Kurt is in a very large urban environment . The weather is warm and the population is poor financially ..this means everyday life takes place in the open . The ability to get to good target rich environments easily and on a repeated basis is the dream of any street photographer . Yes you can do this in many cities ..but I can t in Atlanta . I live in the suburbs and I can tell you from experience that street shooting in the city isn t recommended .

    Three ....the excitement of experiencing sights and scenes for the first time . This doesn t mean that you can’t find good things to shoot almost anywhere ..but if you enjoy street photography then you really have to find a few good streets .

    Has nothing to do with equipment.
    Hi Roger,

    The first aspect- who in the world can find out how people live/behave in Milwaukee or downtown Atlanta? Knowing fully the current realities (but not living it, I must add), isn't it a sad commentary on the "land of the free" (this isn't a political jibe, so please do not misunderstand me)?

    If I can't not capture what I see around me (this happens all the time by the way)- if I can not capture a sliver of what is around me, what is the point?

    All the "bad" streets can turn out to be the "best" streets if only working habits take a turn. Personal experience.

    All this is thinking out loud and isn't meant as something directed against you or Kurt or anyone.

    I have been to Barcelona a few times in the summer. Snapped a lot of (mostly) tourist faces. None of those images stuck me as something though I really love that city and its overwhelming history. I never could understand its complex dynamics (though I did get a feel for it and did not feel too out of place).

    A couple of forum friends (hopefully if I manage my schedules right) would visit here (the Hague) sometime soon. Anyone into street shooting is welcome. I never am into shooting as a group and shooting pics of of each other in the group to get the feeling of "street shooting"(again, not meant as a criticism against anyone). All I can do is just walk around show where walk around all the time.

    Yeah, nothing to do with gear though Kurt's original post seems to have things soliciting support from Leica owners. That is a pity, IMHO.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by dmeckert View Post

    b) I think rock n roll, particularly punk rock (even though I'm not a huge fan actually), has a great lesson for artists of all kinds. You have to believe in what you do like there's nothing else to believe in. You have to be able to listen to the legit criticism, and figure out if and how you're going to let it impact what you do. And for all the rest, and sometimes even good advice, you just have to say "f*** it", and just do you.

    Thick skin good. Thick head bad.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    It is a sad commentary that photography everyday life can have such negative and unhealthy perspectives in some parts of the world ...but it does . I have shot on many occasions with a few of the best PJ anywhere ...so I understand whats possible but I also am realistic about my own skills .

    Really my observation for kurt ..was how great is it that he has landed in manilla and found a shooting environment that is both target rich and exciting . And one that he can easily travel to everyday .

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Oh it's even more fun when mom says "that part is blurry" and you have to say "yes, mom I did that on purpose"
    That rings frequent bells with me as my number one critic ('er indoors who must be obeyed) often say's just that! I have to say at other times her critique is spot on though.

    As photographer's we can be so engrossed with making a picture that we sometimes just don't "see" the glaringly obvious.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Good topic, Kurt. Thanks.

    I think we need to separate criticism of gear and criticism of work. The first, I think we'd all agree, is silly and can be dismissed outright.

    Criticism of work is trickier. We all want to improve, after all. That requires a certain humility and openness to how others perceive our work. The hard part is to filter through the thoughtless reactions and find the considered, intelligent ones.

    I think we need to take it all to heart, give it honest reflection, but then accept or reject based on our internal values and goals as photographers. That's where internal honesty and self-confidence are important. Ultimately, I think those are the only measures we have of quality. Someone, somewhere, will always dislike your work. Frank was scorned when he released The Americans, and some criticize HCB as being dry and passionless.

    A more interesting reaction to our work, I think, is indifference. Pictures that really move me get a ho-hum response. I get that sometimes and am never sure what to make of it.

    I agree with critic Bill Jay, who says it's foolish to judge any one photograph. You really need to look at a body of work. Without that you're missing the most important part of art criticism--who is the artist and what are his/her intentions. You can't get that from one picture/painting/poem/etc.

    Unfortunately, the Internet doesn't work that way. Single pictures with the wow factor rise to the top. There seems to be little place for subtlety or a comprehensive view. In both of these ways--a single-image focus and competing with thousands of images that get a few second look--the web might be among the poorest places to look for useful evaluation.

    John

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Personally, I look at photography as a journey. It is part of my life and therefore something that I value. I consider it a tool to lead me into adventure, relationships with other individuals, and above all fun. Several times over the years it has stopped being fun, either because I turned it into work, or I got sidetracked by a gear related thingy...

    I have found that many people participate in photography for all kinds of reasons, some like the technical aspect, some the artistic, for some it is just a release from a stressful day. The problem with the internet as medium is that it tends to allow for the polarization of like views. This, initially, was not bad, because all types of photographers came together, but now we have distinctions and the opinions that go with that. For better or for worse, it will not change - for the majority.

    Prior to being a Leica shooter, I too wondered what did people see in such a system. I felt that mirrorless was "the way". But what I found as a new Leica shooter is that there is no "the way", only what you prefer. For me moving to Leica was like having an illicit affair on Canon, it was fun again, it forced me to shoot in a completely different way, and ultimately, to see the world in a different way - photographically speaking.

    In retrospect, unless you have tried a Leica, and I mean tried, because it is a learning curve, then you will not get it. For some, price is a barrier to entry and therefore they are excluded against their will. For others, they have different agenda's. The only part that I will never understand is the need to belittle another photographers equipment choice. But, for me, its about the photograph and not how it was acquired...
    Home page: www.aphotovid.com

    Check out my gear blog!

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    IMO, critiques are for expanding horizons. You don't need thick skin for that.

    If it doesn't expand horizons, it's useless.

    As a Creative Director, I had to critique work daily. If I had to reject work it was in order to get the creative person(s) to be more of what they were capable of being. Frankly, I was never disappointed. However, it does require that you get to know the person involved ... so Roger's little story resonates with me ... the reviewer cancelled the "production line" reviews and took the time to sit and get to know Roger.

    The internet has become a huge refrigerator for people to place their pics for a million "Moms" to praise, and when it doesn't happen, the photographer is crushed or lashes out. It's tough to have a thick skin when those deep-seated triggers are present.

    I mentioned this on another thread but it is more appropriate here ... how one reacts to, or is interested in, the opinions of others is colored by their past experiences and their creative environment.

    In answer to a photo friend quizzing me as to why I didn't take his positive accolades with overt enthusiasm, I was force to confront the fact that we come from a "culturally" different creative world and backgrounds. I spent a lifetime surround by talented people ... to be talented was the norm, not the exception. Nothing special, just like everyone else. From special art ed, to art school, to a long creative career working with people just like me, or a lot better than me. Those better than me were the ones that expanded my horizons.

    As too gear debates ... they are just goofy fun. We debate with passion, and some get nasty ... but very little comes of it and most go on the way they were before ... all the howling and gnashing of teeth over some lens, or how many pixels can sit on the head of a pin fades out as the next one erupts.

    -Marc
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Interesting thread
    My mother didn't think that photography was worth a jot (mine included) - although she was rather good at it herself!

    There's two types of criticism:
    1. criticism of your work
    2. criticism of you via your work.

    The first type is generally useful, and you shouldn't need a thick skin for that (I agree Marc).

    I've been the recipient of some fairly vitriolic versions of the 2nd type recently, notably on the RFF forum - I'd like to say that it just washes over me . . . . (because of course it should), but I must say - I don't find it very comfortable!

    Just this guy you know
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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    There was an excellent article by Alain Briot on the subject of Criticism on LL quite recently. Well worth a read.
    David Anderson

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Constructive criticism is always helpful, although not always easy to take. I recently had such a session with a good friend of mine and she was giving me really hard time, but after thinking over her arguments I found that in 90% she was right. And we stayed good friends BTW

    Criticism for just arguing one personal view and decisions is useless, destructive and should not happen - really frustrating. But sometimes - depending on the mood - it is hard not to fall into that. So end of the day I still understand (most times) this type of criticism.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    ....but I must say - I don't find it very comfortable!
    Jono, not many of us would find it comfortable.

    There is more to being a good photographer than technique and vision. It is
    humility and courtesy as a human being.

    It takes courage to post one's images for others to see, experiment with, question and quite often be subject to unjustified criticism of the work and oneself.

    But it takes much greater courage to respond to such vitriol with courtesy and politeness. You did it very well.

    My best wishes.
    koffee & kamera
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Interesting thread
    My mother didn't think that photography was worth a jot (mine included) - although she was rather good at it herself!
    Well, at least we know where a lot of your talent comes from.


    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    I've been the recipient of some fairly vitriolic versions of the 2nd type recently, notably on the RFF forum - I'd like to say that it just washes over me . . . . (because of course it should), but I must say - I don't find it very comfortable!
    I'm sorry to hear that. I would suggest sending a PM to the Moderators. Your preview of the M9M has been first-rate, and shows what the camera can do in the right hands. I cannot understand why so many feel threatened by this camera, and are obviously unleashing their fear on you.

    I've used the Internet since 1980. Fair share of "flame-wars", usually I try to stay with technical discussions. I have my achilles heel on some subjects, and have gotten drawn into some battles. No fun, can ruin a forum if they go too far.
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Not to sure about thick skin.

    In my younger version of myself I certainly acted as if nothing anyone said or did could bother me. Along with that would be moments of grandiose thoughts when being complimented or having the ego swing 180 degrees if a negative comment was mentioned. Today I attempt and have some success with taking an approach based on humility and learning to be comfortable with myself.

    As far as posting work in public or the internet one has to reach a level of confidence and be comfortable with any and all feedback. Over time I have found and learned to trust the comments/advise of individuals who have known me over a period of time, certainly to put more weight on their feedback. I also try to thank people for taking the time to provide feedback, positive or negative, and work on the advice that I find to be important and to let go of the rest. In the past I found I carried a lot of other peoples opinions with me and could reach a mental gridlock.

    With that said in another forum there was a thread regarding creative confidence to which I added the following comment. "Mike I certainly share your pain when the dark clouds roll in along with doubt causing good feelings and inspiration to disappear. It is easy to have momments where I can be consummed by fear of what others may think of my work. I had a moment a few weeks ago where I mentioned to David that I was not going to show my photographs, certainly a moment of doubt, confusion, and fear. I know it happens to us all."

    So I still recognize that there can be moments in time where irrational thoughts can creep in and cause doubt as well as times when I may be a bit over confident.

    Recently watched this short video (11:47) regarding 'Creative Confidence' by David Kelly at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference which I found to be worthwhile.

    David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence | Video on TED.com
    Last edited by seakayaker; 21st May 2012 at 01:49.

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    Senior Member GMB's Avatar
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Great question, Kurt, and very interesting responses everyone.

    Actually, I find that I am not getting enough (constructive) criticism. It seems that either folks praise what you post or say nothing. I would wish more honest criticism of my work as I am sure that would help me to improve.

    For example, in my early days with digital, one of the 50,000+ posters on LUF, who normally states that everything is great, suggested that I get more punch in my shots by using curves etc. and played with the shot that I had posted I found that very helpful indeed.

    However, criticism this seems to be a difficult topic. I participated in a group exhibition last year and was disappointed that the group discussions focused mostly on how much wine one needs for the opening (nothing wrong with that) and no discussion on the works. The guy who organized the event, however, said that he had very bad experiences with these types of discussions and two participants, whose work was not quite up to standard initially, had taken his suggestions very badly (and he was a very nice and polite guy).
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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Giving the right critical comment at the right time may propell an artist to new heights.

    However, the timing and content of this type of helpful critique is rather difficult to judge.

    Also, the artist that seeks too much critical feedback too early in a project will often fail as the avalanche of advice from a committee of onlookers destroys his or her singular vision and confidence.

    Thus, the timing of seeking out critical advice is also tricky. And knowing who to ask is even harder, and is one of the most important things every artist needs to learn.

    To summarize, looking for truely useful critical feedback from nearly anonymous internet forums is time better spent doing anything else. Really, anything ... washing your hair, doing laundry ... anything.

    But, directed browsing on the internet can provide inspiration so one can justify time spent that way.

    -Bill

    The M9 ... is it Leica's best cage fighting camera ever? Or is the MM better?
    We may never know.

    April 2012 – Bill Fulcher |

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    Giving the right critical comment at the right time may propell an artist to new heights.

    However, the timing and content of this type of helpful critique is rather difficult to judge.

    Also, the artist that seeks too much critical feedback too early in a project will often fail as the avalanche of advice from a committee of onlookers destroys his or her singular vision and confidence.

    Thus, the timing of seeking out critical advice is also tricky. And knowing who to ask is even harder, and is one of the most important things every artist needs to learn.

    To summarize, looking for truely useful critical feedback from nearly anonymous internet forums is time better spent doing anything else. Really, anything ... washing your hair, doing laundry ... anything.

    But, directed browsing on the internet can provide inspiration so one can justify time spent that way.

    -Bill

    The M9 ... is it Leica's best cage fighting camera ever? Or is the MM better?
    We may never know.

    April 2012 – Bill Fulcher |
    Bill, I think you make some good points.

    Your one comment regarding the idea of to many chefs in the kitchen to early, reminds me of the old saying ... "A Camel is a Race Horse designed by a committee".

    It may be that there are different categories of "feedback" to consider. Casual critique where the photographer seeks "self-selectable" advice, as well as their place amongst their peers with-in any given venue ... be it a camera club, or an internet forum. Basically, a sort of "Adhocracy". This tends to be as social as it is artistic.

    The other is the more serious seeking of directional critique from a specific and hand picked source that is usually not a public affair ... like Roger's one-on-one example above. I have a sort of mentor in NYC that I turn to for critique ... an occasional face to face discussion of my work, and photography in general.

    Another form of critique can come from close friends with different talents to share. I have that sort of relationship with my friend Irakly ... he has certain talents and critiques that help form certain directions, and I provide the same in return.

    -Marc

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    ... reminds me of the old saying ... "A Camel is a Race Horse designed by a committee".

    ...

    -Marc
    Some, like me, whose life has often depended/depends on the camel, would think otherwise. We thank the ' race horse ' in the desert. Talking about race horses..that is another subject of course.

    Committees from say Martha's Vineyard know little or nothing about designing camels. Different requirements and experiences.

    Nomad from the Rub Al-Khali.( The Empty Quarter ).

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by rayyan View Post
    Some, like me, whose life has often depended/depends on the camel, would think otherwise. We thank the ' race horse ' in the desert. Talking about race horses..that is another subject of course.

    Committees from say Martha's Vineyard know little or nothing about designing camels. Different requirements and experiences.

    Nomad from the Rub Al-Khali.( The Empty Quarter ).
    Too much over-thinking?

    The notion is that the objective was a race horse, and the committee ends up with a camel.

    Maybe the same committee would set out to design a camel and end up with a race horse?

    Brings new meaning to " Horses for Courses"

    -Marc

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    I shoot obsessively. Where doesn't matter to me. That's an overstatement. What I mean is that where is not a primary concern.

    No one has ever accosted me about the camera I'm carrying (although the Alpa Max on a tripod does attract respectful curiosity). I don't take part in nasty food fights on Digital Camera News and Reviews and the like, nor am I interested in them. (The same way that I didn't particularly like "The Fight Club".) It's not exactly porn, but related.

    I've tried many, many different cameras but return to my Leica (and MF). I'm just putting a day's worth of stuff in a bag as I prepare to go out into the world; I pause; I toss my M9 with a lens and a battery into the bag. Marc's allowed to say "I told you so" in observing for example in another thread that a Nex-7 isn't a Leica.

    This could be because my first real cameras were an M3 and a Rollei 2.8F. I couldn't afford these cameras when I bought them used (I was a young 2nd Lieutenant in Marine Corps) but I did. Still the same deal.

    I look for criticism and accept in the spirit in which it's offered. Tough is better than "nicely seen Woody". It takes taste, conviction and communications skill to be a good critic.

    Thanks, Kurt, for starting this thread.
    Last edited by Woody Campbell; 23rd May 2012 at 14:52.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Too much over-thinking?

    The notion is that the objective was a race horse, and the committee ends up with a camel.

    Maybe the same committee would set out to design a camel and end up with a race horse?

    Brings new meaning to " Horses for Courses"

    -Marc
    Maybe no thinking? Rather than over thinking.

    Nothing to do with a committee per se, but its composition. Maybe they went to the wrong schools!
    It sometimes is difficult for committee members to understand the objective.

    ' Horses for courses '; but ' Camels for the Desert '.

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    Re: On the Subject of Thick Skin

    I think if you are going to be an artist, it does not matter what folks say--talk is cheap anyway. It is tough working in a vacuum, but it is either in you or it is not. I know folks that constantly go to workshops. In fact, it is the only place they can do work, or at least meaningful work for them. These folks will not become an artist. One of the most important things to learn is to work from your own center. If your motivation comes from outside, teachers or clubs, you are most likely never going to master your medium nor even stick with it.

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