'Discussion can be very valuable and can be a significant factor in your formative period. The problem with many photographers is that they do not discuss their work with others.
'Quite some years ago, I ran a ‘Day in The Shed’. I should explain the shed. I had a new studio built alongside my old barn studio; it was previously a pig shed so it was always referred to as The Shed. I invited 30 friends, all photographers, apart from three artists. Everyone brought just one or two images. In the morning we met, chatted and had some food, in the afternoon we sat around for a discussion, but it was only the artists that had anything to say. Which is a shame but, regretfully, that is often the case. I know I gained more knowledge chatting over a cup of tea with an old photographer friend who, to be honest, had forgotten more than I’ll ever know, than at any lecture I’d been to. He left his club through indifference and I’m certain they had no idea of their loss. These people are out there so find them if you can. Their approach may be outdated but the essence of their knowledge is as relevant now (with digital) as it was many years ago.
'I do appreciate that probably the hardest thing can be showing one’s work to others to critique. You spend a great deal of time and energy producing your work and naturally you become close to it. Having gone through the whole process from its conception to the finished print, the last thing you want or expect to hear is it being critiqued negatively; especially without due consideration. Which is why choosing the right person to appraise your work is absolutely vital. Of course, there will come a time when there will be no need for another’s endorsement but, as you travel along this chosen path, select wisely those you wish to critique your work. There is no gain in being told every time that your work is wonderful if it is constructive criticism that is needed. At the same time, the wrong advice or not being told the truth can not only adversely affect your progress but also lead you into a false sense of security and, in doing so, stifle your advancement or, even worse, curtail it completely.'
What do you think? Have you experienced good or negative criticism of your work and if so how did you react? Did it lead to improvement and greater satisfaction with your output?