Posted by scott at December 26, 2012

Category: (b) Via Google+

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(and why knowing what others think is beneficial)

 caution: a long post

When I started my public crowd sourced project to narrow down my 2011 travel pictures I stated why it was I was doing it this way. It's been a couple weeks so I'll recap and share some other thoughts as to why I still feel it's important.

How I learned
When I started in photography I learned everything by myself… sure it took years and lots more hours that someone starting off now (with all the helps out there) but the way I learned and the mindset has still stuck with me til today. I had and still have a self-motivated push to always experiment and discover new things and let my creativity take me wherever it would. 

AND one of the biggest helps I had was my ability to view first hand the reactions and expressions of other people. I sat down with people at the computer and watched them look at my pictures.

 Sure I had an advantage coming from a family of artists and I believe that helped me in my understanding of what good art looked like. However I really fine tuned my knowledge of good pictures by showing my own pictures to my friends and clients and seeing how they reacted to the pictures. Not Just what they said but their very expressions and laughs or silence. Especially important is what they did with the pictures after. 
Yes, this method required a lot of people skills and meant to not read into everything all the time.

Aesthetics, in a sense means: What is pleasing to look at… what people like to look at. Some one that is good at photography knows how to make a picture that the majority of people like seeing. 

I have a better ability to look at a picture and say: "I know most people will love this picture even though it's not my favorite and understand and accept it's value even so" 
In fact my favorite picture from 2011 travel didn't make the top 5 … i think it got 7th place… and it's still my favorite. But that's largely because of my personal emotional connection to the picture and the theme. And now I know which other pictures pull at the heart strings of other people the most and the one that does the best job at that is my second favorite … so… it's pretty good eh?

I think people can look through this album of top 5 and if they were following the whole culling process down from 100 they can learn soooo much about photography and how people react to pictures… a learning photographer can read between the lines and hopefully learn lots about what interests other people. (and I hope we're all learning photographers)

If you ever come across a photographer that says something like "It doesn't matter what other people think about a picture" to be fair they're most likely trying to make the point that the photography should speak to you and make you excited to take pictures. Because the excitement and personal emotions are so very important to your progression in photography as well as developing your trust in your own judgement. It's important you don't become dependent on the opinions of others. 

Sharing beauty
BUT, photography to 99.9% of people is about sharing the beauty we see and we can create with others.

IT IS IMPORTANT to know what others find beautiful because when we know we are able to create things that will bring beauty and enjoyment to their lives.

I believe it's about creating a healthy balance between both these motivations.

So in the end if you were to ever run across a photographer that dubs himself "a teacher" and he tells you "It's not important what other people think about your pictures" all while talking to you about how to improve your photography and talking aesthetics…

That teacher is doing you a dis-service, they may understand the point but they're just telling you things they think you want to hear to gain brownie points and they're being LAZY by not helping you understand the balance that there should be in building your internal passion to create and perhaps the therapeutic effect on the soul along with a healthy respect of the judgement of others and the concepts of aesthetics. 

If he's adamant and he actually believes it really really doesn't matter what others think and he's not just saying it to prove a point… RUN AWAY (unless he's your therapist trying to help you do something that is truly just for you)

It's cute to boil it down to cliches and one liners that sound great and get you a lot of sympathetic Likes online… well I think I've made my thoughts clear. (which is much better than the previous scathing remarks I previously wrote and then of course did not post because there was this much kinder way to say how full of crap I thought someone's sentiments were) 

So to recap: A large part of how I got good at photography was that I knew what people appreciated and I knew what would make them happy. In general and with specific families and peoples. 
It works for landscapes too. AND I knew and followed what motivated me and what made me passionate for photography. 

Jarvie Style
My way is unique and very ME and yet it appeals and came from a healthy understanding of what other people like. But it's not imitation or regurgitation. 


An epic scene from Capitol Reef National Park

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  1. Lexy Page says

    Loved every word of this!  Something I needed to read!  Thank you!  Happy New Year!

  2. Bo Nielsen says

    You are getting cooler and cooler the more I see and read from you.
    Keep it up +Scott Jarvie

  3. Michael Stuart says

    I agree +Lexy Page!   A great read +Scott Jarvie – thanks for sharing :)

  4. Allan Cabrera says

    This is indeed an epic scene. Let me just sit here for a while and soak in this capture +Scott Jarvie !

  5. Curt Fleenor says

    Great read +Scott Jarvie! Took me a long time to begin to see the balance and its value.

  6. Sandra Parlow says

    Nicely said, Scott.  I"m afraid I missed out on the voting part of this series, but I'm finding it interesting watching the order these are coming out in.  

    I understand what you are saying, and I agree.  There has to be a point where your photography is not only appealing to you, but to others as well, if what you want is to show people the world the way you intend to.  

    As always, a lovely shot, and I hope you are having a happy holiday season! ?

  7. Dan Kasberger says

    Sight…. See….
    Listening is one thing, Finding how to Hear is so much more

  8. roma g says

    I totally get what you are talking about Scott, the balance between liking your images and having images that others like. Of course it is so simplistic when people write, just do whatever pleases you, although that is a good beginning we as artists live and respond to the world, so we need feedback both from peers and the general public to evolve and progress. We dont live in a vacuum and we are creating art to be seen by ourselves and others. But we also have to be on our own path, creating work that we think is important, putting it out into the world, seeing the response, then going back and creating again without caring about the opinion of others. Thats the part I think is lost. You shouldn’t care about the opinion of others during the act of creation, but its ok to listen to feedback after the creation is done, taking care to not sin against the art by creating sell out work that you think will get you more popular or rich. Another point is who the art is meant for, it can be appreciated by a small elite group who get it, while the general 99% of people will not get it, because they are not open to it, at that point listening to feedback is pointless. An example would be Jackson Pollock, or any modern art, that many people still dont GET, not because its not good, but because they are not ready to experience the art. So Jackson Pollock was creating art for everyone, but he didnt expect everyone to get it right away. only a small group of elite art critics and peers.

  9. midori chan says

     well written, very much to the point!  +Scott Jarvie

  10. Sandra Parlow says

    I've been thinking about this all afternoon…. and after having a talk with someone else about this, I've come back to revise my reply.

    You know, on one hand I agree.  We all like to see beautiful things and if you are creating your art to please other people, then yes, it's important to become acquainted with what the general public likes and wants.  If you want your art to be commercialized that is the utmost important thing.

    But… what if everyone just created art that other people liked?  Wouldn't that be boring?  Wouldn't it all end up being the same in the end?  What if someone told Picasso he was doing it all wrong?  What if he decided that it wouldn't be popular enough?  Maybe a whole movement of art wouldn't exist.

    What about art and photography that is more than pretty pictures?  What about  making people think and feel something more than another pretty scene?  Sure, they might not hang it on their living room wall, but does that make it less valuable, skilled or important than the Ikea posters being pumped out by the thousands to people all around the world who like it because it's popular?  

    If all you want is to sell your art, then ok.

    I used to do something art related and began to go commercialized with it.  I got a publisher who started to request small changes.  Then bigger ones.  Pretty soon I felt like it wasn't my art at all any more. It killed it for me.  Trying to make what would "sell" all the time.  It became tiring and boring.. and really, I just wanted to create something that came from inside of me.  

    In my job, every day people come into my store and see things hanging on our walls and they often make comments about what they see.  There are as many opinions as there are pieces of art on our walls and while one person loves something, another one hates it.  I have broadened my opinions on art so much over the last 16 years… and I am very grateful for that.  I have even learned to like things that I don't love. 😉   

    So, while I can agree with much of what you've said here, Scott, I also disagree to some extent.  Many of us create because we have a need to put our spin on things. That can be done, while still making the masses happy, but sometimes we just have to do our own thing. And if we like it, awesome.  If others don't … well, that's ok.  You can't please all of the people all of the time, and you shouldn't feel like you need to.  It can kill creativity.  And maybe in this moment you might be doing something that sucks… but maybe it's part of your journey to get to a place where what you're doing will be amazing.. in it's own peculiar way.

  11. Luis Fernando Muñoz Mejías says

    Thanks for the description. For a guy who's learning posts like this one are very helpful.

  12. Christian Campo says

    That would be +Scott Jarvie . I love you wedding photos… :-)

  13. valentin Helene says

    superbe !

  14. ?????????? ????? says


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