In spite of what I have written in the past, there remains an unquenchable desire to show your work to peers and hear what they have to say. I think a photographer goes through stages with criticism.
At first you are so green that any criticism is both welcome and helpful. You may be dismayed at how much you don’t know, but you have to get past this and listen and learn. Out of focus, bad color, exposure, poor processing. It will ring true in time and you will either fix it or quit.
After some time, perhaps years you know enough about technique to be comfortable with what you offer and to ignore those who disagree. This is with respect to technique, but not style or composition. There is always some dispute on technique even late in your career. But it becomes secondary to style.
With respect to style, you either join the herd and get consistent accolades, or you don’t. And assuming your technique is good, the criticism will tend to center on composition or subject. In my case something like 10% of the criticism will ring true, the rest will not.
This gets us to the crux of this essay. How to deal with criticism that does not ring true. Examples of what does not ring true to me are words like static, boring, what’s the subject etc. This sounds to me like dogma. It could be the notion that beauty is boring and still life’s are exciting. Or that the viewer is so dumb they need to be guided to part of the image as if some parts were not worth including. That begs the question, why were they included?
The problem here is that if you don’t subscribe to such nonsense, you will be ostracized. Or you can develop a tough hide and show what you have and ignore criticism that is not self evident or that is purely subjective. Art is not democratic.
When I take a picture, I either know it might be special, or I am just doing it for practice because I am already there. The trick is to get the special ones right which is not easy. But it happens often enough. But just as often, it is only special to me. Other photographers are not impressed. This is the situation you need to deal with. Almost as vexing is when other photographers like the work you have done that you are not fond of.
I think the only response when you are a loner is to show and listen. Like I said, 10% of the comments may ring true. Some other themes may ring true over time, but most are just subjective. I don’t like B&W, but that is subjective and carries no value in critique, the same is true in similar areas.
But the key here is to show and listen, not to change or argue. Be true to yourself no matter. Praise is almost always worthless but you do need to hear what others don’t like. If this dislike starts to ring true to you, something has been gained.
So show, listen, and never argue. That will be my process until I learn more about dealing with criticism.
Followup. This leads me to the following suggestion when you are making critique. Some stuff is objective, like out of focus. Some stuff is subjective, like rule of thirds. Be careful to word your critiques so that the subjective stuff is clear and never expect anyone to agree with such assessments.
Sometimes out of focus or color cast or low contrast is intentional, so never be dogmatic about anything, even objective stuff.
More followup: Since writing this I have had some success at the landscape forum. But my decision to show problem images at critique is not working. I think they still expect an image that would work when fixed. My problem images just don’t work so they probably need to be scrapped.
I see no point in showing a good image at a critique forum so it probably means not showing anything there.
I do get some critique at Landscape, so I probably just need to file that information away for future reference. Any reply ends up sounding defensive.