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Poor Quality Images: Objectionable, Inevitable Or Even Desirable?08/08/2008 - 8:51 PM
When I joined ePHOTOzine on 28 July 2004, my goal was to learn. I enjoyed my photography, but I was very much aware of the fact that I was a pretty clueless snapper.
From what I saw on the site, I concluded that this was a place where I could pick up some ideas and some extra photographic knowledge. After about two weeks I had also decided that I could even show some of my pictures and find out how I could improve them. That was because looking at the forum and the gallery, I concluded that this was a friendly, non-threatening community, and therefore I wasn't afraid to show something that must have looked pretty appalling to many.
My first upload after two weeks of membership was "Jousting Knights of Powderham". When I took the picture, I thought it was bound to be a wonderful shot. When I uploaded it, I wasn't so sure of that anymore, but I really wanted to get some kind of reaction to it - hear how others felt about it. And I was very grateful when Roderick James (rod the voice) made a helpful comment. And not only did he comment, but he also gave me my very first click or vote. Since his comment wasn't exactly a rave review of my shot, but more like "Nice idea, but it could be better", I considered that vote to be a form of encouragement, not an endorsement.
With one or two exceptions the first twenty or so uploads were pretty terrible. They did get some clicks, but again I considered that to be friendly encouragement. And it worked, too. I felt that since I got such a friendly reaction to my shots, I could keep uploading, and could keep learning how to get better.
Now, you won't hear me claim that this made me a wonderful or even proficient photographer. But I have learned quite a bit since 2004. Not as much yet as I would like, but hey, there always has to be something left to learn, right?
Anyway, we're coming to my point.
There are those on here who object to photos of "lamentable" quality, and especially to them getting votes.
Thinking about my own beginnings as a member of EPZ, these words have made me wonder what would have happened if I had been treated differently in the beginning.
What if Roderick hadn't been so kind in his first comment? And hadn't voted?
And what if all of my first uploads had only been criticised, and hadn't gained any votes or friendly comments at all?
Let me be the first to say that those simple shots would have deserved a treatment like that, I'm honest enough to see that. I just don't know how I would have reacted.
I might have become reluctant to post any more images. It's a definite possibility that I would have turned into a lurker instead of an active participant - that I would have become a shy member, instead of someone who wasn't afraid to show the results of his bungled efforts and experiments and learn from them.
I'm grateful to every single member who has given me encouragement, suggestions, advice - and clicks. As far as status goes, clicks don't mean anything. But as far as encouragement goes, they mean a lot to many.
You can never get any kind of recognition or admiration from those who really count in the world of photography by showing your ePHOTOzine Readers' Choice Awards or the number of clicks. But they can boost your confidence and help you to persevere and learn.
So I'm back to the question in my title for today:
"Poor Quality Images: Objectionable, Inevitable Or Even Desirable?"
Assuming that those who produce poor quality images (as poor as mine) can still learn, I cannot and will not label those images as objectionable.
Since ePHOTOzine doesn't have any quality standards new members have to meet in order to join the site and upload images, yes, they are inevitable, in my humble opinion.
Now, the last option might be taking it a bit far for some. But think about it.
Don't we want people to come to this site with the same reason that I had? Don't we want them to join, upload their images, and find ways to improve them? Yes, of course we do! (Well, at least I hope we do. I mean, if we'd want an elite group of members who only uploaded high quality images, it would be a rather select and limited group, wouldn't it? And I wouldn't be a part of it, because I wouldn't meet the minimum requirements.)
Now, I don't have to explain what conclusion follows logically from that, do I...
PLEASE NOTE THAT NONE OF THE ABOVE MEANS THAT WE SHOULD ONLY PRAISE PEOPLE FOR THEIR IMAGES AND NOT GIVE HONEST FEEDBACK. I DO, HOWEVER, FEEL THAT POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE IDEAL REACTION TO ANY IMAGE!