The first time I heard Dean use that quote was in reference to somebody criticizing a series of images he was sharing in a program. His point was, it doesn't matter what any of us think about each others work, it's the client who passes judgement.
What got me thinking about Dean and that quote, which I've probably used a dozen times this year, was a battle over an image in one of the forums. Here's the scenario that happens dozens of times every day...
Somebody puts an image up in one of the forums and starts to get a little criticism, some times positive, some times negative. Things typically start out well, but immediately spiral out of control when somebody comes along who wants to play troll and starts to slam the skill set of the artist. Next thing you know everybody jumps in and the discussion/thread becomes a miserable hateful/hurtful mess. I've even seen discussion go so far out of control that politics, racial and even sexual slurs become part of the process.
I'm an administrator on two different Facebook forums and every forum could use some help in getting more photographers to simply "play nice".
- Don't share images in forums if you don't want criticism.
- When you do respond, follow my buddy Levi Sim's mantra, "Act as if your grandmother's watching!"
- If you're about to critique somebody's image and can't be constructive, just shut up!
- Ignore trolls - they hide behind the anonymity of their monitors with a miserable outlook on life. Down deep they're unhappy people, no matter what their day in day out appearance might lead you to believe. Don't engage them.
- Last on the list, so many people need to have a thicker skin. The written word is the hardest of all to interpret. There is no tone in your voice, no emotion. Whatever you write is "heard" based on the emotional state of the listener at the time. I've seen the most innocent of comments set people off because of the way they thought they "heard" what another person wrote.
When you're being critiqued, take all the suggestions, listen to what people are saying. Take what seems to make sense and what doesn't and boil them down into what you can learn from other artists. In the end, do what your heart is telling you and what you believe.
The Internet is an amazing tool that twenty years ago none of us had. It's made the world smaller and it's making all of us better business people and artists. Let's stop screwing things up by giving trolls more credibility than they deserve and just not react.
Remember the most important person in the equation of any image is the subject or the client. Why?
Because beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder!
Photo Credit: © enterlinedesign - Fotolia.com