Don’t just follow the crowd

Make your own kind of music.
Make your own kind of music.

It’s great when someone comments on what I write. Sometimes they send emails, or they see me with my camera and strike up a conversation.

Thinking about, discussing and debating photography, or any subject, is healthy for the mind. Similarly, going for a walk with your camera can distract you from your troubles.

Comments people make about these articles are always friendly, even when they disagree with me. I’ll admit to being deliberately provocative, challenging commonly held beliefs in the hope that they will elicit a reaction. I am then surprised when people have agreed with me.

Recently, I received two similar criticisms. They were not about what I have written, but about other people’s photos in the selection I make. They both implied that they could do better.

They have missed the point; the Northumberland Camera Club is not a competition, it’s a celebration of photography.

If someone believes they can improve their own photographs, that’s good. The club is here to help us all progress and achieve the best we can.

But if we think we can improve on someone else’s picture, it is only better according to our own set of criteria; the judgement is subjective.

I consider every image a step on a personal photographic journey. Some are just starting off and discovering their art, others have perfected their skills over decades. Every point is of equal value.

Furthermore, if I don’t impose my own standards on others, they may create something completely new instead of trying to post photos that fit my favourite style.

We all look at photos and are inspired to take something similar. Head out to photograph the sunset and count all those trying to do just that.

Before you go, check out some of the 683 million sunset photos online. Then set up your tripod, select your aperture, calculate the hyperfocal distance, attach your filter and click! Another crowd-pleasing photo. It will get lots of Likes on social media, but will it be so different from the 683 million?

If we base our photography upon the tastes of the crowd we risk encouraging people to take photos that look like everyone else’s. They may win competitions, but creativity is stifled. If we accept that the current aesthetic is subjective, it frees us from pursuing the latest trend and we can chase originality.

So go out and experiment. Try something different and walk away from those who think their photos are better than yours.

Our last challenge words for September are ‘Descend’ and ‘Wonder’.