When I was a much younger Dad, I recall being a bit (cynically) amused with other parents who thought (and loudly voiced) that everything their kids did was absolutely, incredibly, undeniably fantastic: gold medal worthy accomplishments! In my opinion, those parents weren't helping their children learn the difference between what is a truly terrific accomplishment and what is something less than that.

I understood then, and still do, the need to build confidence and self-esteem in children. Doing so is especially true for parents. Kids constantly need approval, especially from Mom and Dad. As parents, we should often and pro-actively look for opportunities to offer approval as well as praise.

But let's face it, everything our kids accomplish isn't award-winning, fantastic, or exceptionally terrific. It might often seem so to us, they're our kids after all, but it's not. Trust me. It's not. The same goes for photographers. Every picture a photographer proudly showcases in which he or she thinks kicks some serious photographic ass doesn't. (Come close to measuring up to photography's butt-kicking status, that is.)

And yet, if you spend significant time on photography forums or social media sites and look at a lot of photos many photographers showcase, and then read the comments by friends and others, you'd think the majority of these pics are nearly of Pulitzer prize winning caliber.

They're not. Again, trust me, they're not. Yours aren't and neither are mine. They might be good, they might just be okay, they might be better than average but they're not all exceptional. BTW, the word, "exceptional," in this context, means unusually good; outstanding. I only mention this because I've seen enough photos that are exceptional in other ways, like exceptionally bad.

Obviously, no one wants to hear or read their photos suck. I know I don't. But then, I don't really want to hear that some photo I'm putting out there, one I think is just okay, is anything more than what it is-- good or competent or whatever other words indicate it's a decent enough image.

I've worked pretty hard at trying to develop a good sense of aesthetics; a good "editing eye" if you will. I think I have fairly good skills in recognizing the difference between a photo that sucks, a photo that's just okay, one that is good, and a photo that is better than okay or good, possibly exceptional. Unwarranted praise, as ego-building as it might be (not that photographers who need help in the ego department are a rare commodity) works against a photographer's ability to discriminate between work that sucks, work that is okay or good, or work that is exceptional. The ability to discriminate in those ways are important skills for any photographer to develop, very important skills! And they are learn-able skills rather than abilities you need to be gifted with.

BTW, if someone tells you your photograph sucks, you have three choices: you can either accept it, get over it, or deal with it. Or, you can do all three plus another thing: you can choose to accept it, deal with, get over it... and move on. (Hopefully, moving on in a direction that helps you learn to make photos that don't suck or, at the very least, to learn the difference between photos that suck and those that don't.)

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top is Allie. I don't think it's an exceptional photo but it works. It's okay. More importantly, my client thought it and others I snapped of Allie were okay, were good in fact, and that's what matters most to me... and that the check clears.

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