eh . . . it's just okay

has anyone ever posted some pictures and gotten comments like, "i don't like these" or "they are just okay".

i got one yesterday—from my sister of all people. now maybe some would be offended at this, and to be quite honest, i was almost offended at first. but then i realized that i appreciated her honesty. if you think about it, we bloggers go to other blogs and comment and compliment all the time. i can honestly say that i have sincerely meant every comment i have ever made. and i believe that the comments that have been left about my photos or posts have always been sincere.

but it is refreshing to hear from a sister who will tell you like it is—or at least how she sees it. it's funny, because i had started to write a post a while back about this. what makes a photo good? it can't be good or great to everyone who sees it. so in my opinion, a good photo is what i like—what makes me feel or think or both. what makes me see more than what meets the eye. whether i take it or someone else does.

here is what i had started writing on that post a while back:

i've been thinking the last couple of days about what makes a photograph good—what makes it art. it started when i read the thought-provoking "excite me" post that my blogging pal and diptych blog partner posted on her photography blog. i have to say, pretty much every photo jamie posts on her blog excites me. her artistic eye and technical ability are something i aspire to. just going to her blog is exciting, because i can't wait to see what she comes up with next—plus, i really enjoy her writing.

but it was the quote she wrote about in her post that got me thinking and even questioning why i take pictures. i know some photography is just to make a visual record of something—a newspaper photo, a business portrait, etc. but it seems to me that any and all other kinds of photography are art—they are as diverse as songs that are written or canvases that are painted.

the quote or poem {by jay maisel} was this. "if it doesn’t excite you, this thing that you see, why in the world, would it excite me?"

i'm not sure what the context that his words came out of or what led him to write this, but i had issues with it as soon as i read it.

take for instance this photo of the river above. technically it's not a good photo. in fact it's really lousy! something really weird happened with the settings to make the color and exposure come out so off. but when i saw it on the computer, i thought "wow. this is so cool." i'm not sure why. the result was obviously not intentional. but there is something about it that just made me love it!

it may not excite you in the least. but it excited me so much. so does that make it a good photo? i really don't have the answer to that. what are your thoughts—not on the photo, but on the subject?


margie said...

we all seem to be on the same track lately. what makes us take pictures and what qualifies as a subject. is it the composition, the colours, the techniques? of course, it is all of those things.

Anonymous said...

I like to think my blogger friends will someday be FRIENDS, real ones-- so I try to be as real as possible, if I find something I Don't like or think ..."what"? In terms of their photos, pictures, cooking.. I will try to find something that I did like in the post and comment positively on that, rather than be fake...

Having said that- that is the coolest fucking picture I've seen in a long while... not intentional is sometimes.. the best!

Alicia said...

Great post. I love the quote and feel that I need to start thinking about this when I photograph. Lately, I've been shooting for the record... events and activities that I'm experiencing... but even when that is the case, I need to think about the quote from Jay Maisel.

Also, LOVE the quote with the photo above... over exposed photos are some of my favorite! I love the brightness of them :) And I always enjoy a photo that doesn't follow expected "norms".

Dani said...

i don't know much about photography...i just take pictures because i chronicle my children, mostly, but also because i want to learn about photography. with that said, i don't know what makes a good photograph. but from someone looking at a photograph, I like things that make me see something or someone in a new way. it could be a long beach grass where i notice the sand first...or a bridge beam that i wouldn't have paid attention to...or the blur on a river...would i have noticed that house otherwise?

~B~ said...

Everyone is different and sees things in a different way. That can be taken in to account with everything in life, cars, beauty, fashion, art, food...that is what makes it,life, great. Who cares if not everyone likes what you put out there,YOU like it, others see beauty in it. That is a blessing. If everyone liked the same things all the time we would not have all the great choices in life to pick from. If someone says they think it is not that great or even ugly..well that does not matter it just matters how they go about telling you they do not like it. We should all respect each others differences, be able to express them and not hurt anyones feelings. For a novice like me I gather inspiration from you and your unquie eye, I gather it from Jamie and Claire too in different ways. I never would have been able to do that if I had not orginally found you. So keep posting your special out look on photos,poems and life. Cliche but beauty is in the eye of...I wont finish it.=)

Ps. It is great you and your sister have that closeness, it is great to know you can tell someone something they will not like and they will still love you in the end.

apriliniowa said...

A good friend of mine wrote something similiar on my blog once upon a time in regards to a favorite poem of mine. I didn't even write the lovely, sad thing but was a wee bit offended because the poem WAS me. IS still me. At my core. But it also made me go back and wonder why the poem was so hard to understand and if that, at the end of the day, meant something about myself. After quite a few years in writing workshops, you get a tough skin at the end of day. Because usually no one likes anything except there own work in those sort of environments! ha. That being said, in the blog world, I typically don't comment if I don't like something I've read/viewed because I tend to feel that if someone posts a photograph they've captured-that's a little piece of them out there. A small window into their life. That, and I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a photograph I didn't somehow in some fashion love. There's beauty in everything. In all styles. If you look close enough. Hope this finds you well. :) ~h

beth said...

photography, like a piece of art...it's all in the eye of the beholder...

I have always gone with this quote, as it seems that in my family, rarely does anyone agree on the same thing...and that's a good thing.

how boring would the world be if we all liked the same thing ?

My Morning Walk said...

i like what you wrote. Sometimes I get to feeling a little insecure about a picture I want to post and then I think ~ who cares? I like it. And that is all I need. To let go of what anyone else might think about it is feels quite great. Thanks for this post :)

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

I agree-- I love honesty-- until i read someone saying it just for what i feel is SHOCK value.

Why say anything if its not uplifting and kind. (helpful is entirely different)

Mean spirited -- no use!

Like you, I am in praise of something i really enjoy when i take the time to post. Otherwise I use my cute little mouse i have in my hand and move on.


Toni said...

Jay Maisel is a phenomenal photographer. He does workshops and critiques his student's work. That is the kind of experience I would love to have, where someone would tell me in honest terms how I can improve my work. I can imagine him saying that quote while critiquing an image or giving a lecture. Any image I post is always up for critique.

Most comments that I make are complimentary. I think you can always find a positive about everything. If I absolutely can't, I just don't comment (although these days, take that with a grain of salt, because I'm having a hard time getting around to visit everybody). There are only one or two people with whom I feel comfortable leaving constructive criticism and I always hesitate then because I wonder what the other people will think.

Jamie said...

Hmmmm...I just tried to post a long comment and then it dissapeared! I'll try to again...

A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?
— Ernst Haas

I think that "good" art is interpreted as "good" when it emotionally moves the viewer. That being said, not all art will move everybody.

I think it also depends on what type of artist you want to be. If it's just a hobby or something you do to enjoy the creative process then most of that technical stuff doens't really matter. If however, you're an artist that wants to grow your skill and learn new techniques then you should see critisism, not praise. Ask the hard questions like, how can I make this better? How can I recreate this accidental picture I love so much, again - on purpose?

Great topic G! Thank for the love :)

Haphazardkat said...

Art is subjective.

What one finds breathtaking another might find boring.

I've learned to do just what pleases my inner eye and let others find their pleasure at their leisure :)

btw...i have yet to find any of your photos that i walked away from thinking, "meh...it's okay..." :)

I have to add this...I was googling Britains got talent the other day.

There was this boy who looked like an average 12/13 year old who went out to audition. He mentioned that he gets bullied a lot by kids in his school for his singing. They hate the way he sings.
Simon asked him, "how do you respond to that?"...the boy said, "I just keep singing."

The music started, he opened his mouth...and pure gold flowed from his soul out onto the audience. I had tears streaking down my face.

Google Andrew Johnston.

Long comment (sorry) but what I wanted to impress is "keep on taking pics" because, sweetie, they are pure gold.

Char said...

hmmmm, not all that is considered art excites me. but I can appreciate that it is art. does that make sense? having gone to photography courses, i know what it's like to sit through honest critiques of my work. but in all of that, he also taught me that art is indeed in my eyes. though everyone may not like my work - as long as it makes me happy - then who is to say it's not artistic? I am honest on my work. and...if you like, we could all add to a new blog where we help improve shots. all of us budding artists that love photography - ones that want to transcend from a crisp well recorded shot to "art". what do you think.

elk said...

interesting topic..
random thoughts:
not all photos move me....if I cannot be positive then I probably will not comment, does not mean it is a bad photo tho'

I am a novice photographer and am the first to say so and my own worst critic, so i just post them because I like them and if someone else does as well it is a bonus!

Georgia B. said...

char, i like that idea a lot! let's talk more!

thank you everyone for your input. i have to say i agree with you all. we all seem to see it the same way—as does my sister. that's why i appreciated her comments. she knows we can say things like that to each other and understand. i truly am grateful for her honesty.

angel cake said...

Possibly you should have quoted all of me...?

What does it matter. Your blogger friends don't know me anyway. Who cares if they think I was serious when I was only kidding.

Who cares if they don't know that my comment was really to make a point exactly about what this post is about.

Oh well. It's ok, because they don't know me anyway.

Sandy K. said...

We all take photos for different reasons, you are right. But I think the thing that connects us to our work is ..."us." Who we are inside and what we like to see and create images of. They may not be someone else's cup-of-tea, but they are ours. And we created them. Photography will always be subjective - and that's what makes us all so unique - and important. How boring if we all took the same types of pictures and had the same reasons for sharing. What good in that? Good topic!

Chris said...

I'm the same way with my pix. Lots of them must look so-so or bad, but I love them for weird reasons. As for the honesty thing, I think it's good, but I also think you need to consider someone's feelings. I'm not saying to sugarcoat things, but to say "Oh, that sucks" or something brutally honest might not be the way to go. And like you said, not everyone can see the same beauty and magic that you do :)