How harsh are you to yourself?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Poki, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    One thing that helped me getting a better photographer (probably the most important one) was getting harsher to myself. Now, when looking over the photos I've published so far, I realized I still was just as harsh as I was when I decided to get harsher with myself sometimes in 2011. Which is - by far - not harsh enough.

    Now, I reviewed and deleted many photos. What is left? 12 shots. I shoot my NEX-5 since summer 2010, and now I'm left with 4 shots from 2012 and 8 shots from 2013. What does this tell me? Two things: How much better I actually got over the years and how bad I still am. There's not a single shot in my 500px library that I would call 'excellent'. They are 'good' at best - by my measure. By many other's measure, they might just be bad to mediocre. And that's great. I think nothing motivates you more to get a better photographer than actually seeing (and accepting) just how bad you are.

    Now, how harsh are you to yourself? How many shots do you publish - and of how many of your shots do you really think are great? Sometimes it may not be easy to say "I'm a bad photographer." - but at least for me, it was and still is the greatest way to motivate myself to improve on my work.
  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    I try not to be too "harsh" with myself since I do photography just for fun anyway. If I was making a living out of it then things would have been different for sure.
    Although I do get frusturated sometimes with my photos and keep thinking what could I have done better - that's a nice exercise in my opinion.

    I checked your flickr and at least 11/12 of your photos are excellent IMHO :thumbup: Having said that, I'm now very curious to see all the others you deleted :D Maybe you're just a bit too harsh with yourself??? :D
  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 9, 2011
    Gotta be harsh and honest with yourself in more than just photography :smile:
  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    You can never be too harsh. Except of course if it takes part of the fun out of photography for you. Oh, and I only deleted them on 500px - on Flickr, most users don't even know what a 'good photo' is, so I won't care what's up there for now. ;)

    In sports? No, I'll never be above average there, so why try? ;)
  5. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012

    Oops, sorry about that :eek:.................:D
    Sometimes I type/post fast and don't pay attention to my mistakes
  6. bmg123

    bmg123 TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 15, 2013
    England, UK
    I find it hard to be harsh on my photography, no idea why, I used to take so many random photos of rubbish. I'm a lot more selective now, but I never find myself annoyed with the lack of quality in a photo. As for my video, I tend to get so depressed and/or angry if something's not right, even the small things!
  7. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    I see a lot of what I call "un-constructive praise" on social media. But then, sometimes I also perceive a lack of recognition for work of mine that I think is worthy. So at the end of the day, I feel I need to rely on myself to be my own harshest critic AND my own greatest fan!

    Modern global social media certainly helps keep me honest. If by some chance I start to think my work is really getting "up there", I just have to hop on Flickr and see what a few of my more respected contacts are up to. Or pull out an old book and see what the old masters did.

    The very best advice I can think of was given to me by a musical peer when I'd been playing music for just a few months, many years before I went pro in that field. I thought I'd just done something really awesome and perfect - a very common novice delusion. The guy looked at me seriously and said: "don't stop practicing".

    One other thing I'll add is that in all the creative endeavors I've taken on, in photography, music and glass, I've found that perception is always subjective. That is to say, other people see my work a lot differently than I do. They tend to favor pieces that are not my own favorite and when our preferences do match, they do so for different reasons. In other words, no one will ever "get" your creative work quite the way you do. All you can do is strive to satisfy your own impulses as best you can, then the work goes out and you have no real control over what other people will make of it.
  8. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    The biggest thing is to remember your target audience.

    Sharing among family members is different than posting for contest entries and media productions.
  9. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2012
    I don't pay attention to this at all. My target audience is me. I don't consider my photos to be very good but I'm not particularly harsh with myself as I've only been shooting for less that a year. As Jeff says, I find that what I think are my best photos are not necessarily appreciated by others. How can they be though. I like them because they come closest to what I sa in my mind as the scene unfolded and other people have no idea what I was seeing and feeling at that time.

    Family and friends are almost useless as judges of photos when they are in them. They don't see the photo only themselves so they judge the photo entirely on how good they look not the photo las a whole.

    I'm not really interested in being harsh but I do want to be honest with myself.
  10. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011

    Yep, that's so true. Even 'perfect' shots aren't to their liking often times (and with 'perfect' I, of course, also mean their posing and facial expression - but 'interesting' isn't always like they want to look...). And once, I had a out of focus shot that the couple totally loved.
  11. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    That's kind of what I mean.

    I am not suggesting turn out poor shoots, or don't put in your best effort. However, sometimes in large group shots or family events, the photo is going to be less than stellar due to uncooperative individuals, poor lighting, etc. You take these kinds of shots to remember fun times and family members, not necessarily to go on the wall at a gallery.
  12. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    I AGREE COLIN, well said :)
  13. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    In my experience, friends at least complain if the shot is not 'perfect' - even if it's their fault because they didn't follow your instructions on posing (yeah, everybody nowadays seems to know more about photography than the ones who actually spend hours every day practicing it and reading about it ...). That's why I stopped caring about that. If they don't cooperate, I don't press the shutter button. I won't spend the time it takes me to take and edit the image again just because they refuse to look into the light a little bit more.
  14. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    You nailed it, Colin.

    I take photographs because I enjoy the act of creating an image that pleases me. And yes, because I'm vain, I will post the ones I like the best here to solicit a reaction. If someone else, especially those here whose work I admire, reacts positively to them, then that's just ice cream on top of my pie. But if I get no reaction, it has no effect on the pleasure I take from having created that pleasing image. It's still delicious pie to me.

    So no, I'm not that harsh on myself. And I hope I'm not harsh on anyone else. We all have our own reasons for doing this, and if someone else's photo doesn't move me, so what? I assume that they like it, and that there's something in that image that I just can't see.

    That's not to say that I don't try to learn and improve my craft. But I'm not under a deadline, nor am I being paid by someone who has certain expectations about my work. I try to keep in mind Kurt Vonnegut's admonition with every snap of the shutter:

    "I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."

    Words to LIVE by.
  15. macro

    macro TalkEmount Regular

    Feb 3, 2012
    New Zealand
    Danny Young
    Totally chronic on my own shots, not so much on other peoples shots. I look for perfection and the best thing of all, is that it doesn't exist, so I delete shots that are sharp and in focus with good exposure. Just that other shots around them might have a better pose, different wing spreads, head position, slightly different light shimmers, etc, etc.

    All the best and I keep very little out of the quantity I take.