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03/14/2005 04:01:06 PM · #1
Another Way to Assess Your Photography

I sympathize with “Wedged in the Middle”, a faithful and creative DPC photographer who recently considered pulling out of DPC due average scores (my “average vote received” stats? 4.6). I wonder how many in the DPC community assess their photography and even their life as a photographer based upon votes or comments or views or sales. I offer another way to assess your photography: Love.

No, I’m not talking sentimental self-absorbed overly-saturated saccharine sweet-talking gaussian-blur of emotional feelings. I’m talking Love. Allow me to explain. I don’t know the stats for DPC, but I’m guessing that over 80% of photographers in this online community are non-professionals. That is, most of us do not pay our house payment by making, marketing, or selling photos.

We are amateurs. At the root of amateur is the Latin word for love, ama. An amateur is someone who does what they do “for the love of it”. Love is at the root of all amateurism, whether in sports, parenting or photography. At the heart of most DPC photography is an ordinary, everyday, aw-shucks, no-nonsense love for what we do.

Good feelings come and go. Who hasn’t taken the “update” button roller-coaster ride on DPC on a Sunday night? How many of us get excited as we load up what we think is our best shot to date, and wake up the “morning after” with that same old morningafter feeling as we look at the 4.2 on the DPC screen. I suck. I suck. I suck. Just keep repeating that fateful mantra until you slowly kill off love, your love for beauty, for adventure, for excellence, for every God-given inner longing for life. Or laugh out loud as you reload your memory card to head out on another shoot.

Love invites us out beyond ourselves, into the world around us, into the lives of others. There’s a place within our heart of hearts, a place where love bubbles up like a wellspring, waking us up way too early to go out in the cold predawn morning to once again attempt to capture what is just out of our reach, the radiance and wonder of a new day dawning, another day to live fully and love others.

This same love puts technology into our hands, brings us home to upload our catch of the day to ooh and aah over the wonders we’ve seen, helps us develop the craft of photography as we read and reread the manuals, the technical books, the tutorials, in hopes of finding better ways of tapping the source through these clumsy external machines.

The same love is what lies behind our voting. For the love of other people’s photography, we step outside ourselves into the heart and vision of another fellow traveler on this planet. I never cease to be amazed at the sheer beauty and wonder of DPC photography. Week after week, challenge after challenge, genius emerges from across the globe onto the pages of this website, revealing your love for beauty, imagination, goodness and life. I also happen to enjoy the company of the “folks-in-the-fours”, the DPC upstarts who dare to stand among the greats and modestly smile.

When it is all said and done, love keeps little record of the score, looking beyond the statistics into the heart of life. Love sees the passion among the pixels and the pain behind the neatimaged, overly edited photo. Love submits and resubmits and resubmits 12 times over in hopes of finding a better way to express the inexpressible. Love keeps reloading our camera bag, heading us out on yet another face to face encounter with life. As for all you like me who are “wedged in the middle”, I look forward to seeing what you’ll offer us next! In the meanwhile, love beckons. I’m going shooting.
03/14/2005 04:06:31 PM · #2
Thanks. well written, well appreciated, well timed. Thanks.
03/14/2005 04:06:38 PM · #3
*puts Charlie on pedestal* you're my hero :)

the cat picture on my profile... I LOVE totally love that picture... becaseu shes my cat, in my kitchen, peeking at me takign a picture of her... I dont care that others didnt like it...

because .. of Love :)

03/14/2005 04:08:08 PM · #4
Hope everyone reads this!
I know now, I am definitely an amateur. I think that's something to celebrate.

Great post. I feel happy.
Thank you.
03/14/2005 04:10:20 PM · #5
Wonderful! : ) Thanks!
03/14/2005 04:11:23 PM · #6
Whew, you saved me! After a 35% on the AA challenge I had thrown a rope over the beam and was just starting to rock back and forth on my office chair when I read your post :-)
03/14/2005 04:15:42 PM · #7
Excellent post Charlie. Thanx very much. For what it's worth, I'm one of those "professionals", albeit a retired one, and such extra income as I earn comes from either my photography (sales of prints-as-art) or work I do in editing and book design. My work has been "validated" by the marketplace, as it were, but this has little meaning to me. The greater validation is in my heart.

My average score in DPC challenges was under 5.0 prior to the Ansel challenge, and will soon be under 5.0 again based on the performance of my "lines" image. This bothers me not one whit. I sometimes get annoyed a little bit when I thing an image has scored WAY lower than it "ought" to, but I never get annoyed that it doesn't score above the middle-of-the-pack. Why? because for the most part, the high scoring images belong to those who run WITH the pack, and I steer my own course.

I accept as a consequence that I cannot please the pack with any regularity, but I still have fun. Lots of fun. When it stops being fun I'lls top doing it.

03/14/2005 04:26:52 PM · #8
Charlie, are you Norman Vincent Peale reincarnated? Great post!

My latest entry (Lines) is dipping below 5, first time in awhile, but you know what? I don't give a rat's behind. I like it, my wife likes it, and I'm gonna print it and hang it on my wall!!

(...but I'd still like to see the score rise a bit ...please?)
03/14/2005 04:31:21 PM · #9
Brilliant piece. *Applause*

I was wondering (when reading various posts and threads) as to why do people worry so much about what other people think or preceive theier piece to be. Why are we so concious of an opinion. I understand it could be agonising for the very seious photographers who have to make a living out of photography but for us amateurs and hobbyists I dont think we should worry too much about public opinion as long as you like what you shoot.
I am a kid as photography goes and like a sponge - ready to soak in whatever knowledge is thrown at me, but if I am not selective it would only harm me and over time I have come to realise how important that is. There are always people out there who would like you to see the world as they see it. There's no harm in that as long as you just look and still have a mind of your own. Thats my belief. I do understand that sometimes it could just be peer pressure or because one has bought an expensive camera and equipment one has to be a 'good' photographer or become good. I just htink its all a state of mind and as charlie mentioned 'Love' - THE most important ingriedient. For me it's Love over everything.

p.s -> I think your bridge photo is amazing. I really liked it a lot. Maybe cos I just finished reading Bridges of madison county ;-)

Message edited by author 2005-03-14 16:33:19.
03/14/2005 04:34:14 PM · #10
Very nice. I also sometimes think my shots are much better than the votes I get, but it doesn't change the way that I feel about them. Thank You.
03/14/2005 05:36:56 PM · #11
Amen!!! Photography has to be for yourself too.
03/14/2005 05:47:00 PM · #12
this thread has thus been printed twice.

One copy for my cube wall, and another next to my monitor at home.

Thank you.
03/14/2005 05:53:02 PM · #13
I love my wife
I love my kids
I love my camera
i like my job
I like my house
I do not love my average score on DPC

Happiness is...reading this thread!
03/14/2005 06:04:07 PM · #14
hmm verry interesting, took me a while to read it because I read slower in english and you wrote a bit, but it is verry good. You may have found the answer to one of my biggest problem. I did alot of things in my life just out of passion out of love how you say, and in some of the cases I became good at it, and even started making money out of it. But every time the minute I started making money from whatever I did, the love for it died in me. Hmmm... interesting, maybe money for me is just love killer. Thank you for this.

Edit: It also makes alot of sense now for our whifes/husbands to be jealous on photography, or whatever we do out of love, maybe they are right we really love something else sometimes a bit more :)

Message edited by author 2005-03-14 18:10:20.
03/14/2005 07:10:28 PM · #15
You are my new hero, too. And may I add: I even know that my photography isn't great, scores or no score. But I had to remember that for me it is just that pure bliss and joy that comes with taking the pictures and seeing them on your very own monitor and knowing you took that!! THANK YOU!
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