When I put myself in the position of a teacher, meaning that I am willing to share my humble knowledge about photography and help someone in their learning process, I come across three different attitudes, let’s say, from the people who want to learn.
First kind of attitude actually can’t be called as an attitude at all. It’s about learning on forums. People post their photographs for someone to critique them. To them, having an attitude other then absolutely willing to learn from what ever they got, is not allowed. We all assume that they want a sincere critique and act accordingly. Right?
It’s much easier to give a critique on someone’s photo on a forum. I just write the truth and don’t really know the person or even care about who posted the photo. I write honestly what I think about posted photo without carrying how will the person whose photo I’m critiquing take my opinion. I feel comfortable to say “The composition is off… I don’t really see anything interesting here… Pay attention to the lines, shapes, colors, your background… There’s enormous huge ball growing from the top of their heads…” Yeah, I’ll just write like that because that is the truth. He/she asked for opinions, now, they should read and learn from it. It’s that simple.
On a forum I (or whoever is willing to help) just type exact thoughts for the posted photo and let that person deals with it, I don’t actually see are they disappointed or happy or mad or else…
And that is really all it is. The proper and desirable attitude, if you want to learn on a forum is that you should be grateful for every opinion you got, because someone actually took time to type their thoughts in order to help you. Learn what ever you can from what ever you got as a critique. Don’t start or go on with the argument, it’s not worthy of your time.
What do I do in real life when someone asks for my opinion on their work? Am I more careful with the words I say to them then with words I wrote on a forum? Do I care more for someone’s feelings when I don’t have much good things to say about their work?
My friend S got interested in photography but we started to talk about it just recently. He is capable to hear an honest opinion and he sucks, but in a way that he knows he sucks and want to get better, and he asks questions. So no problem there delivering my honest critique and no hard feelings when I shred his photo.
His attitude is a great one for any kind of teacher. He looks me in the eyes when I talk and nod his head like he understand he sucks and can’t wait to hear more about where and how he sucks. If you’re like that everyone will help you.
That is the most desirable attitude a teacher can ask for. I’m not a patient person but I feed my patience with his will to learn. He is more then welcome to ask me everything and I will pass him everything I know
Be like that, adopt this attitude and you’ll get probably more then you asked for.
Recently I met a guy J, 20 years old. I was walking with my children when I saw him shooting. I approached him, said how glad I am because there is someone else here that’s interested in photography and we started to talk about equipment first (of course, everyone wants to talk about equipment. I immediately have a headache when someone mention equipment. I don’t care about equipment! Can we talk about photography!?) and then about some projects I thought he might be interested. The guy was so confident, told me that for his knowledge his kit lens is not enough anymore, he is currently shooting a catalog for clothes….
We exchanged e-mails, he told me to look at his photos on facebook because well, he is good. Later in an e-mail he asked me if I saw his photos and would I be interested to participate in a photography course he thought to organize with above mentioned friend of mine S….
So I saw his photos …. they aren’t good at all. He is learning and he is at the beginning of learning (at least I hope)… Let’s say for now that he has a good camera and he is there trying.
I’ve been avoiding to tell him what I think, because of his attitude. He’s confident and “know all” type of person which is far away from what he really is in photography.
How to crash him in a polite way? It’s not possible.
My problem is that I don’t know how to soften my words. In every aspect of my life I’ll tell the naked truth if someone asks me for opinion, and I know that in real life people most often don’t want to hear naked truth.
So that’s way I was in a trouble… On a forum you don’t see the person, in real life you feel and have to deal with the attitude.
Here, with J, I met him and I didn’t like his attitude. Because his confidence isn’t based on a real knowledge and he is too confident even for a someone who knows much more then he does. So instantly with disliking his attitude and seeing his photos I became less objective because I want to kind of shake him and tell him “Wake up dude! Grow up!” that’s my emotional reaction on his behavior. And it seems to me that I can’t get pass it…
Something needs to be clear here, I’m not paid for teaching or explaining anything to anyone. If I was, I would have to pass the knowledge to people like J is. I’m talking about my free time and my desire to help. I don’t have a desire to help anyone with some ugly attitude. If you know everything already then don’t ask for opinion.
And it’s not just me who feels that way. Trust me.
If you want to learn, then you should arm yourself with a proper attitude. Be open to everything and find a way to embrace negative comments on your work.
We all don’t learn from what we did right, we learn from what we did wrong.