Sell the public flowers…things that they can hang on their walls without being uptight.Robert Mapplethorpe
I am pleased to announce my image “White Calla Lily,” part of my Bontanical series is now available at Crated.com. As an added incentive for these Fine art prints or framed artworks; email me your particulars along with your order information and I promise to mail you a small certificate of authenticity with the image title along with my signature which can then be attached to the back of the piece.
My Adventures with a Google+ Community
I don’t know why my pictures come out looking so good. I just don’t get it.Robert Mapplethorpe
I work hard on my images, am very meticulous, attentive to details and am proud of the finished product. I am also not naive enough to expect everyone to like my work. I also admit to using social media heavily to promote my images, which brought me to joining a Google Plus group called Light Box, a gathering of like minded individuals who critique each others work. Unfortunately my experiences not necessarily good ones.
Critiquing is a skill, and skills improve over time with the right knowledge and continuous practice, if you care to. It can be a positive experience for both along with being a experience to improve your and the recipient’s skill as a photographer. On the dark side it can be a form of trench warfare with useless information, biased negative assumptions and insults being thrown back and forth. Here are some of my experiences.
Wine Bottle and Glass; a image photographed for lighting and form, a favorite of mine and others but unfortunately is one of my most pirated images on the web. From the group owner; “have to delete1 because I cannot read the entire name on the bottle.” later on “But even if I wanted to buy this wine I couldn’t, I have no clue what it is,” finally from her after explaining it wasn’t ever a product shot; “In that case the half label is a distraction, and I’d still rather see just the glass.” From another senior member from the group: “If I were the art director I’d tell you the photographer that I couldn’t show this to the client.” Because it was a still life image and without even asking these senior members of the group assumed it was just a “product shot.” Even if it was they appeared to have no concept of a editorial image whereby sometimes “you sell the sizzle as compared to the steak.”
Violin Profile, which to this day is my most successful image. “delete2 It looks like an encyclopedia photo of a violin with a stamp-like frame,” or “delete6 I don’t feel any emotion in the picture. Could be an advertisement for violins.” When you view the work exhibited in this group it is usually the same old landscapes, exotic locales, beautiful waterside sunsets, and the odd street shot; at that point I should have foresaw what troubles my images would bring. Don’t get me wrong, quite often I like these types of images and i tried to diligently give thoughtful critiques, such as cropping, color, visual noise, and the likes to their works. This image of my Violin went down in flames quickly, mostly because of the border; but no one thought to ask why I included such.
Old Shears, a simple still life inspired by the lesser known Fortune magazine photographic work of Walker Evans, in this case from the article; Beauty of the common tool. Also inspired by the plain documentary studio work of Irving Penn. From a senior contributing member of the group: “save2 Great stockimage. Clean up the rest of the background and this should sell well.” Because it was shot on white and the image was a still life the immediate assumption it was a “stock” image. Then there was: “delete6 This reminds me of the part of the museum where I should probably stay longer but don’t. It’s all my fault, not the toolmaker’s. You did a nice job of keeping it all in focus, but it doesn’t resonate for me.” I knew my work was not the norm of this group, but the hope for decent, constructive, discusable criticism and viewpoints was fading and the trolls were taking a toll.
There are other images, but finally 1952 Packard Hood Ornament, which has had the most social media activety of any image I have posted. From one of the usual suspects of the group: “delete7 It’s a good capture of the swan but the comp is a bit on the nose. Just a nice rendering of the subject I’d like to see something unique. It’s Bordering on other peoples art,” and from another member “You’re showing someone else’s piece of art, not adding your own perspective to it.” I of course to it to mean this image was some sort of visual plagiarism and replied: “”not adding my own perspective?” I didn’t know either of you were there when I shot the image, or were behind me watching my post processing of the image. Sorry if I did not know you needed to stand at scenic locations high on a cliff, stand by a shoreline at sunset, photograph a street scene with or without cropping off heads, all of which is done far too often to create “art.” I understand your critique about the blue being to strong for you, and that is okay. I find your other comments and defense of someone elses comments presumptuous,” which of course was not understood by the other members of the group.
To be fair there is some very nice creative work being done is this group, but most of it is the “same old, same old,” with the creators of this work not willing to expand their horizons and chastising those who stray from the path of shooting touristic exotic locations, beautiful sunsets by water, and street scenes. I learned my lesson. Feel free to visit my images and leave a comment.