There’s nothing quite like having all of your friends and family constantly tell you how great of a photographer you are to turn you into a really bad photographer!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with some encouragement. We all need it on a regular basis. The problem however is that when the only feedback we get is positive, it has a negative effect. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. We live in a society where telling someone that they’re doing something wrong or that they could be doing something better is drastically avoided. Heaven forbid we hurt someone’s feelings or dare to point out the things they are doing wrong! We’ve lost the ability to take criticism and it certainly shows in the new generation of photographers coming up (not to mention that it’s spilled over onto a lot of us existing photographers)!
The main problem here is, when you only hear praise about your work, it leaves no room for improvement. Praise only ever tells you what you’re doing right (or what someone thinks you’re doing right). We will never consider our need to grow until we get criticism. …and before we get our undies in a bunch, I’m not talking about having some jerk dog your work just because it makes him feel better. I’m talking about a true critique of your work, noting the good points AND the bad points, and done in an encouraging manner. Did you know that it’s possible to tell someone what they’re doing wrong in an encouraging way? It sounds fishy because we’re in a day and time where most criticism comes from a place of judgemental pride. And by the way, being “judgemental” has nothing to do with pointing out someone’s mistakes…it has to do with the attitude behind pointing out someone’s mistakes. When someone asks me to critique their work, my comments are not based on me feeling like I’m better than them (because I’m not)…they’re based on past mistakes that I’ve made, have learned from, and trying to help them avoid doing in the future!
Oh yes, the spiritual implications are totally here too! We loooove to be told all of the good things we’re doing in our walk with God…but how dare anyone point out something we’re doing that is wrong or goes against God’s Word. Who are they to “judge” me? (…and if you can’t tell, there is a bit of sarcasm here.) Because the fact of the matter is that God LOVES YOU, and He loves me…and He wants those things for us that will make us better, stronger, and more skilled in our faith. That means when He lays out some “do’s and don’ts”, they aren’t merely “suggestions”. They are there to help us critique our life to get the most benefit out of it. In much the same way, when we have someone who knows more than us critique our photography (and business), it’s simply to acknowledge the weak points so that we can strengthen them up. Then as a result, we become better and better at our craft…and in turn, we find our work MUCH more fulfilling when we see the skill and progression begin to develop!
We have to be willing to set our pride to the side if we ever want to become better; because if we can’t see or admit that there’s a problem, then we will never put forth the effort to correct it. This is one of the hardest and most difficult aspects of your photography (and life) to deal with, because our pride is a terrible beast to slay. But, just know that the effort results in more joy, happiness, and success for YOU, your family, and those around you!