I participate to a photographic group twice a month. I’ve being taking part at it for a year now, and I’m quite satisfied with it. At least it’s something in a mountainous valley made of small villages, mostly inhabited by old people (remember? I do not live in Torino, but in the country 😉 ).
We are about 15 people sharing the same interest for photography, all of us are amateurs, none has ever attended visual art classes nor specifically studied photography. We share our ideas and opinions about photography, show one another our photos and share suggestions. Living in the country makes naturalistic photography our central focus of discussions.
Like in every group, everyone has different visions and they can also clash sometimes. It’s always fascinating how each one of us interprets the work of the other in different ways, how something you ardently like or a choice you did while taking the photo can be a source of long discussions and confrontation.
Being quite a reserved and shy person, it’s always quite challenging for me to show my shots. While I have no problem publishing them online, it still creates a kind of apprehension showing them to a group of people who are all there to discuss what you have done. After all, what can happen when you post a photo on Flickr? Most users won’t leave you any comments if they don’t like your photo, they will simply look at another one and forget about yours. But human confrontation, well, that’s something else! 😉 (And it’s a pity how Internet has changed human interaction… but this topic would take more than a post to talk about)
Whether online or in a “physical” group, when you show your work you must be open to other people’s comments and critics. Not every one will like what you are showing, while others will adore it. Critics and comments must be constructive, of course. Negative critics done just to say something are of no use, exactly like comments such as “oh wow, this is amazing!”. It’s flattering, but comments like this one only serve to feed our ego. I would like to know why someone loves one of my photographs, whether it’s a tiny detail, the light, the angle, the feeling. And at the same time I want to know why a photograph is a source of critics (my ego cries, but my mind learns).
Every meeting, every photo published on Flickr or on TLW tlog, every post here is an open window on discussion and confrontation. Comments, critics, opinions and suggestions makes us learn and grow, makes us share ideas and passions. But we must always be open to give and receive them. That’s the only price we have to pay, and at the end of the journey our ego will even thank us! 😉