I have been an amateur photographer for over 40 years. This does not mean that I am any good as an artist but I know how to solve a photographic problem.
When I adventure in a new area of photography I become once again a novice. Having 40+ years of experience does not implicate that from my first shot I am a world-renowned nude photographer. I have to build an experience. Getting this is obtained by shooting as much as possible and getting helpful feedback. Reading, studying, workshops tend to help in building experience.
When I started with street photography a few months ago I had to overcome the fear to come close to strangers, to invade their personal space, to take pictures without their consent or knowledge. I do not pretend to be the new Adget, Cartier-Bresson of Chuck Jines.
I choose to come close to my subjects so I work only with a 28mm lens.
I post images I select after some harsh self-critique and hope to get (positive) feedback. I read books about street photography, I follow fellow artists.
I am aware that I have much to learn and I believe that even after harsh self-critique I post rubbish. Also, I believe that every street photographer, every artist, had to start somewhere. Sometimes it takes almost a lifetime before we find something in which we can excel.
Like everyone else, I use social media but I tend to be careful. I never engage in politics or religious topics because that is off topic and a source of problems.
There is this American street photographer I respect. He has evolved to more documentary photography and has made some intense and compelling series about heroin abuse in his hometown Chicago.
His images raise awareness of a problem and that is something I like. This photographer also gives workshops, has an interesting Youtube channel. You have to pay to get the most out of his informative website so I have no idea of the offerings.
On social media, he shows and expresses his involvement with the poor, the underprivileged, the addicts. When you dig deeper into his social feed I read another message though but that is off-topic.
A few weeks ago this Chicago based photographer posted a rather negative and insulting post about a street photographer that operates in the same city. I happen to like the work of that guy too. It is different but interesting.
Even if you have another opinion I don’t find it a good idea to trash somebody else on social media. After all, it says more about yourself than about the ‘victim’ of your rant.
A few days ago he ridiculed a well know Asian street photographer looking down on him in a very negative way.
A few weeks ago I noticed he liked one of my street photos and it was a pleasurable experience. I would have appreciated a small comment but hell, he is a busy guy. I got another like and then another.
“I’ve been “Liking” images in my feed out of kindness lately. I need to stop doing that. It’s like feeding the pigeons, it just encourages more.” he wrote yesterday on his FB page.
I did find that very sad. Apart from the value of a FB-like, you are basically telling the world your “Like” is a fake. You are telling the world you are not honest. I admit a dislike button on FB would be nice but I am not sure if it would be appreciated but the users. Hell, if I read or see something I don’t like I won’t comment, WordPress, Instagram or FB. The world won’t stop if I don’t like but at least I will be honest with myself and the person who did not get my appreciation won’t die.
This Chicago documentary photographer has great work and with his photographs of heroin addicts, he helped building awareness. His photography is great and he shares quite a bit of his knowledge. I still respect him for his work but that is it.
Kindness is a lie when it comes to evaluating someone’s work. And somehow this Chicago based photographer has clearly forgotten one day he started from scratch too.
Showing work on social media, even if it is crap or stupid, means that person found the courage to show his or her work. We do not deserve to be ridiculed by those who think they have arrived at some important stage in their life.