Wise words about critiquing....

04 December 2016

SIG: Landscape

Image:  Elizabeth Robers (c) Anthony Roberts

The Landscape Group will soon be launching its own social media page to enable members to share and critique work.  In the meantime, here are some wise words about critiquing from Elizabeth Roberts, editor of Black + White Photography magazine.


"Yesterday I received an email from a friend who works in the photographic industry and who is a really good photographer. She had kindly sent me some links to other B&W photographers whose work she thought I might find interesting. I looked at them and wrote back to her saying I would like her to encourage them to submit work to the magazine – I added that she also should send in some work.

"The reply I got quite shocked me. She said she had ‘lost the joy’ of photography and was currently not taking pictures. ‘I got really disillusioned with all the competitive social media hounds…’ she wrote.

"This is not the first time I’ve heard this story and it still amazes me. What on earth are we doing? Aren’t we supposed to support one another? To encourage and celebrate good work? If we don’t like a picture, why not simply say nothing – isn’t that what we would do if face to face with the photographer? Would we not have some empathy for how that person might feel if we said something derogatory about their work?

"Something about this reminds me of road rage when a perfectly pleasant person gets in a car and finds themselves cut off from reality by its illusion of isolation. Consequently, they behave discourteously, swear outrageously, and are generally selfish and unspeakably behaved. It seems that any situation that allows anonymity releases something in us that is uncivilised.

"The appreciation of art, at whatever level, has a degree of subjectivity. What one person likes might simply not appeal to another. And that’s only natural. There are, of course, levels of skill and ability that vary enormously – and some work will have a higher or lower level than others, and when we critique (not criticise) it, we need to take this into account. We should see it within its contextual sphere.

"Social media, like driving cars, is an integral part of our lives – it is one of the most powerful tools that a photographer can have to disseminate their work, to reach a wide audience and to attract sales, if that is the aim. But, because of its anonymous nature, it can attract bullying and arrogance. We all use it and share its benefits, so let’s appreciate its values and not abuse it at the expense of our fellow photographers. None of us is right all the time, so a little humility and respect might go a long way.

"And, by the way, I suggested to my friend that she ignore the stupidity and send some work my way, so you might well be seeing it in the near future."


To find out more about Black + White Photography, visit http://www.blackandwhitephotographymag.co.uk/