I like St Valentine’s Day. Being a bit of a ‘romantic, arty-farty hippy’, as a friend described me, the idea of spreading love appeals.
I have family in Finland. There, this day is more about celebrating friendship than romance. What’s nicer than receiving a card with a super photo on the front and a message saying how much your friendship is valued?
Photography is a great means of forming friendships. With social media, it’s easy to get together and go for a walk with your cameras, discovering photography by bouncing ideas of one another. This happens in the Northumberland Camera Club. It is this type of friendliness that makes a pleasant change from much of what happens in the world today.
I think it’s fantastic that folk in our club are encouraging one another to improve their photography. What better way of being noticed and remembered than gaining a reputation as someone who always encourages others with nice words?
Alas, the whole world doesn’t behave this way and I’ve seen a fair amount of disparaging comments in other forums. But those mean remarks about a picture always say more about those making the comment. I can’t be doing with it, I leave those groups.
A lot of people become frustrated with their photography and want to take it to the next level. They ask for help in improving their images. You can help them. If you are faced with critiquing an image, always start and end with everything positive about it. In the middle, put in the stuff that you would do differently.
If you are on the receiving end of a constructive critique, appreciate that the person is trying to help. Consider what they say and decide whether that is the right advice for you or not. After all, if we all follow the same advice, we would all be taking the same photos.
Part of the secret of improving is trying something new. Instead of landscapes, try portraits; instead of wildlife, do street photography; instead of colour, try monochrome. If you find shooting a particular type of image easy, even if you excel at it, break away and do something more challenging. Push yourself.
Be particular about what you do with your photos too. Don’t flood the internet. Pick out your best photos and decide where to display them. Treat each image like it’s worth £1,000. If you post the same images in half a dozen forums, people will tire of seeing them and they lose distinction and value. People will think you are trying too hard or that you are a spammer.
I often ignore my photos for a month after shooting them (not with customers’ photos as they would not be happy). When some time has passed, I become detached from the experience of the shoot and it is almost like I am looking at someone else’s pictures. I then decide which ones I want to delete and which I should like to develop and use.
My best photos get turned into prints. Having pictures printed on large, gallery-grade paper is special and a far better way of seeing them than on screen. It is the exact opposite of Instagram, with its short-lived, throwaway images viewed on tiny displays.
Finally, make greetings cards. Send them to the people closest to you, putting a message inside telling them how much you value their friendship.