Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Facebook Effect

The more I post on forums the more I think I shouldn't. When I see people asking for comments and critique (C&C) I try to be fair, and honest, with my assessment of their work. But most of the time that's not what the person asking for C&C really wants -they just want to be "liked". They want me, and everyone else, to pat them on the back and tell them that they're doing great even when they're not. So I can either get on the "nice capture" train, macro's version of the like button, or say nothing at all. Heaven help me if I actually give someone honest advice! In the end all of the major discussion boards have pretty much degraded into circle jerks of mediocrity, with no one making any real improvement in their photography.

The more well known a photographer is, in any community, the more difficult it is to give them advice. They're addicted to the  gratification that they get every time they post an image, not realizing that being well known is like a feedback amplifier and for every positive comment they give they're likely to get several in return. That's why they shouldn't listen to any of the positive comments. The moment that they do they're probably going to stop pushing themselves to improve, and they'll stop listening to jerks like me who are telling them where they need to make changes.

Even when people ask for equipment advice it's not genuine most of the time. What they really want is reassurance, because they've already decided to spend the money.  But they'll go looking for someone, even an Internet stranger, to make them feel good about parting with the cash. I frequently make the mistake of looking at the person's gallery and telling them that they need to improve their composition, or lighting, or both and that new gear isn't going to help. But that's not the answer that they're looking for, and odds are the new kit is already on it's way or they had it before they even made a post asking for advice.

If you really want to improve your photography then you're going to have to learn how to subjectively critique your own work. It's OK to make mistakes, but you're going to have to figure out where you're going wrong. Odds are no one is going to help you see the errors you're making because they're afraid you'll stop making positive comments on their work if they do. So you'll have to pick your own work apart because everyone is just going to "like" you.

For some of you honest self evaluation is going to be tough due to all of the positive feedback that you're getting. But that feedback is like a birthday or Christmas present -the only reason that you're getting gifts is because you give them.

I though that the obsession with absolute image sharpness was killing macro, and to some degree it still is. But everyone's overwhelming need for approval might just put the final nail in the macro coffin...