Finer Feathered Friends-Emu on Flickr.
*Finer Feathered Friends: Emu
This is Minkie. She is a Dromaius novaehollandiae the largest bird in Australia and the second largest bird in the world, the first being her less hirsute cousin the Ostrich, who in my opinion can’t hold a candle to the Emu. I mean…look at Minkie’s eyes and her magnificent Dr Suess-ian coiff. Oh baby.
If I were a court painter for some benevolent king and queen in Renaissance times who patronized the arts (my bygone dream job), Emus would roam the royal court flipping their feathers back like teenage girls and rolling their eyes at the vacuous bird-brained cheerleaders otherwise known as peacocks. (“Did you see him showing off his feathers? Who does he think he is? What a cassowarie. Ewwwww!!!”) Ah, but I digress…
For those of you more interested in craft than imagined conversations, this was created with a mere 3 textures (each used twice with different blending modes and masks) plus 2 adjustment layers. It’s surprisingly easy and there’s a +Helpouts by Google for it right here: http://tinyurl.com/lbm5o63
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for constructive criticism. (No matter how experienced we all think we are, there’s always room to learn and grow. In fact, I like to say “not a day goes by where I don’t learn something.”)
My issue is with the critics.
I was just having a conversation with +Rick McKee about critiques and realized there is as much art as science to it. I have a lot of respect for those who seek to actively improve their art and craft and request feedback. And I have the utmost respect for those who can provide the proper balance of criticism with a measured dose (or heaping helping) of nurturing and guidance. (It is called constructive criticism for a reason.) I find the very best critics ask questions of the artist first. To understand their experience level, the resources they had available from gear to processing software. I’d also add in understanding the goals the artist had when creating the work; (were they trying something for the first time or perfecting something they’ve been working on for a while? It makes a difference in how to encourage/guide/teach them don’t you think?) I’m gonna go out on a limb a say beware of critiques that don’t first seek to understand these and lots of other questions before providing expert opinions.
There’s also an enabling versus disabling way to point out flaws opportunities for improvement. Beware of critics who begin with “I would do…” (I’m sure you would, but we’re talking about me now.) “Did you consider…” or “Have you ever tried….” are way better lead ins.
Plus the Egotistic critic who talks from an “I” viewpoint may not have all the answers. In fact, the best critics I’ve ever had are ones who embark on a mutual journey with their students to discover not a right way or a wrong way, but rather a new way (or at least a way that helps the artist discover something new about themselves.
Here’s another thing to consider: if you don’t walk away from a critique feeling motivated, energized, excited and even more passionate about this shared love of ours, what good was the critique?
The ideal photographic critic gets just as excited at mistakes and new paths and personal growth as they do about finding a perfect image. Perfection is a continuum. And critics need to be able to jump in at any point along the way and help the artist move forward.
As for the image below, it has lots of room for improvement. There are technical and artistic things that bother me and I am working to improve on. But when Zoe, the toughest critic of all saw it, I got giggles, a big smile, a hug and a smooch on the cheek.
Hmmm… Maybe critics should end all their critiques with a smooch. Just some food for thought.
Stay inspired. And be inspiring