Over the last months I’ve been tuning into an occasional video podcast produced by Atlanta photographer Zack Arias and his musician wife Meghan.
What happens is that Zack and Meghan review websites belonging to professional or wannabe-professional photographers and manage to impart much commonsense and wisdom along the way.
Photographers have to apply to have their sites and their work reviewed and, on occasion, it must be quite a painful experience. Not that the Ariases (I wonder what the proper plural is) are ever nasty or unkind, but they do tell it as they see it.
The thing that emerges from the podcasts is that many photographers do not think all that clearly when it comes to putting together a website and choosing what work to go on it. Equally often, photographers have not accurately identified who they are photographically and what they want to do.
Zack definitely doesn’t approve of putting any old work on a commercial website, but in keeping things strictly to the genre, or two, that the particular photographer is best at, and wants to make a living from.
He will often point out a a strength that the person might not even have realised they have. People can easily imagine themselves as one sort of photographer when their real talent lies in something else entirely.
In a written comment on Episode 12 on his blog, Zack’s outlines what he’s about:
“Rule #5 – I am looking at your site as though I’m a photo editor, art director, or general public client. Would I hire you? Would I love your work? Would I hate it? Would I laugh at it? Would I think it is original or dated or boring? If so, I’ll tell you. But my goal is to not leave you there. If I feel I can speak to the work and give suggestions to make it better then I most certainly will give you my opinion in how I feel it can be made better. I will do all I can to point out your strengths as well. I’m not here just to try and bring people down. I do these things in hopes that it helps.”
And in things to think about for people receiving criticism, he writes:
“Rule #2 – Understand we are just one tiny voice in a sea of thousands. Take what we say with a grain of salt because you could show your work to another photographer the same day you show it to us and you will get a whole different take on it. Gather several TRUSTED voices together and then filter it down through your own brain to find out what needs to happen.”
That last sentence resonates strongly with me and could apply to many aspects of life, where you could learn from listening to your trusted voices and, at least, asking the yourself the question if they might be right, or not.
Zack and Meghan’s Photo Critique podcast is free and available from his site or from the Apple iTunes store. The shows are quite a sizeable download but well worth it, from my point of view. One thing is certain, you’ll never look at image processing and special effects actions and filters, in quite the same way again.