Are you objective when looking at your own work? Or do you have personal favorites that you stubbornly hold onto. One of the best things I think we can do as artist is open ourselves up to differing opinions and views of our work. It is pretty common to be your own worst critic. But can we really be objective with our own critique? Or, do our bias's keep us from making change?
Last week I had a friend point out a few issues with an image that has been a personal favorite of mine for a long time. I suppose I could have been offended. I could have said, "I am the artist, I know what I want." I could have simply dismissed it as negativity. But the truth was they were issues that I had never thought about. I had always looked at this image with a bit of nostalgia. It was one of my first serious attempts at a long exposure with my new Mamiya RZ. Since that moment my digital DSLR has been languishing on the shelf holding down a stack of post cards.
Alright let's take a look at the image and some of the issues pointed out.
First off, why is the pier touching the life guard hut? I have no idea. When I set up the composition I simply missed that. It creates a tangent or tension point that really draws your eye. It makes it difficult to read where the hut and the pier stop/start.
Next was the two big black blobs on the left side of the frame. Well those were a back pack and some people laying on the sand. I knew it. I assumed everyone knew it. But, I was there and my viewers were not. I subconsciously assumed that it was obvious. When in fact it wasn't, not even close. Don't let personal knowledge of an image replace what you should saying with the image.
Last was the stupid horizon line. You got to be kidding how in the heck did I miss that! This issue I was aware of and thought I had taken care of it. I think that I have straightened it a dozen times and it always feels a little off to me. Maybe the juxtaposition of the diagonals in the hut throw me off. But that is no excuse.
So really some pretty simple fixes. Here is the finished product.
Much better. Cleaner lines, less distraction and easier to read. It fits better into my portfolio and coincides with my vision better as well. it took me maybe an hour or so to go back and take care of the issues.
I suppose the bottom line is, don't be so attached to your own work that you can't hear the advice of others. I heard a quote once that said something like, " sometimes the best advice we can get as artists is, no." It is possible to have your own vision for a subject and be able to receive the advice of others. One caveat to that would be, there are lot's of people online that are negative for the sake of being negative. Make sure the advice comes from someone you trust and is trying to help. You don't always have to change everything because it was pointed out to you. You should just be aware of it.
Thanks to my friend, Olivier du Tre' for helping out with some thoughtful advice. You need to check out his work.