Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Death of Macro


June Bug series 1-2
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
No, macro isn’t dead –far from it! It seems to me that there are more people shooting macro, and interested in macro photography, than ever before. But the wave of excitement might just hit the beach and flatten out if the quality of macro images doesn’t improve…

In other disciplines, like birding, it’s very difficult to be at the top and the difference between being in the upper ten percent or the lower ninety is marginal –the “competition” is fierce! If you look at the photographers that are at the top they all have some similar things in common: They compose their images well, they know the difference between good light and bad, they understand how a flash works and how to use it, and they learn about the behavior of the subjects that they shoot so they can take advantage of it to get better photos. When they post their work and ask for constructive criticism then they get it –and most take what they are told and apply the advice to better their work.

But for some odd reason the same standards are not used in macro photography, and it’s killing our discipline! If I had a dollar for every time someone posted an out of focus, centered, image of an insect’s back side I’d have all the money I need for new gear. But if I had a dollar for every time someone told the photographer of that poorly composed, poorly focused image that they were doing a good job I could retire…

Giving someone positive feedback on a bad image is one of the most self serving and selfish things an experience photographer can do! It might make you popular with the masses, but you’re not helping anyone improve their work by being dishonest. If the people in the upper ten percent in macro really care about macro photography and really want to see the discipline get the respect it deserves then they are going to have to start giving honest, constructive criticism. Odds are you won’t be on too many Christmas card lists, but at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a difference –and you can point to the success of macro photography and claim that you had a part in making it happen…

Since I care about macro photography and I want to see it taken seriously as a photographic discipline I’ll give you honest, constructive criticism on your work if you ask me for it –but don’t ask me to critique your photos if you’re just looking for a pat on the back. I’ve also taken on a few people as their mentor, and I’m looking for new students, so if you need help with your macro photography contact me and I’ll start working with you to improve your photos. I challenge all of the top macro photographers to do the same…

One final note: I’ve stopped participating in “Barney Forums” –I love you, you love me web sites where you’ll get positive feedback on a photo no matter how bad it is. I can’t lend my support to those sites by being active on them when, IMHO, they are part of the reason why macro is not taken seriously as a photographic discipline…
Post a Comment