Passing Judgment Online is Never Easy

One of the photography-groups I have integrated into upon Facebook is aimed at TOG’s, MUA’s and Models. It enables all of us to network for photo-shoots, discuss issues and compare ideas. What I also enjoy about it most is ‘Controversy Wednesday‘ – where one or more people will put forward an arguement or statement to see how the rest of us may respond.

My favourite question to-date is:

What judgements do you put on people without actually meeting them?
Do you label people and then believe that is all that they are?
How often do you open your mind to think of the many possibilities that they could be?
I think that many on this group are very judgmental – (or) am i saying that to stir you all up or am i saying what i think?

Whilst I have already submitted my answer within the group (which, by the way, is a private group), I felt compelled to expand and explain my response out. This was my response to the group:

Stone Reflection

Judgement isn’t just for negativity. Honestly, I have days I want to leave this group because I feel like lint in the bellybutton of so many AMAZING photographers, but I stay because I am enjoying being inspired by your work. That’s my judgement.

I needed to write so-much-more, but realised I really wanted to send the message to more than just that small audience.

The following text is much more than I originally anticpated writing here, yet feel better for saying all that can read below…

“On the issue of judging people by their words and actions online BEFORE actually meeting them – that’s something I think about often. In the real world, I can be quite shy … right up until the moment I feel comfortable speaking to you. Why? Because so many people just don’t get my sense of humor, think I am crazy or simply don’t act like I do.”

“Plus I am not a trained photographer, I’ve done no online nor campus study in the arts. The school of hard-knocks and the university of blood sweat and tears are my backyard. Nobody taught me about 3/4 composition, so I don’t shoot to win, I shoot because I like a view. Why am I saying all this? Because judgement is all about the way our brains see. When I look at other people, I look at your eyes, not the skills you posess. Think about that before you even suggest that membership or clubs or groups with fellow photographers is going to make me feel better about myself. It probably won’t, because I don’t shoot to be judged. I don’t necessarily want anyone to say “Well, that composition is a bit skewiff” – because maybe it is meant to be.”

Actually, that reminds me of a situation that happened in an Art Class in High School, circa 1984.
My brother had drawn a perspective showing the lines of the walls and ceilings in the house we lived in at the time. When he passed the drawing in to be marked, our teacher red-lined it with true perspectives – and told us that that the house couldn’t possibly have those angles. It wasn’t the digital-photography age, so all three of us boys had to convince him that the room really did have odd lines between the walls and ceiling!

My point being that art, architecture, and life are all subjective. Our own views determine all the factors that contribute to the (either current, circumstancial, or potential) existance of a time and place. For photographers, everything they see can have a different appearance. Light, weather, emotion, so many factors impact on any resulting artwork. Therefore, judgment by peers can really only be about the resolution, the focal point, and to question the subject matter. Does this alone happen?

As a moderator of four art groups on Redbubble dot com, I am required nightly to determine what is and is not artwork. Too often I find people puttting happy snaps of people and moments which clearly don’t meet the guidelines I put into place when I took over moderation-duties of the groups. The former moderators saw my reasoning, and let me push these issues forward. Consequently, I have two groups where ONLY artwork of the HIGHEST QUALITY (where ‘quality’ is a generic term for the afore mentioned judgment-points) is/are accepted.

I manage to do this without any training in art-appreciation nor photography-judging. I see so many photos each and every day that I know I can tell you what is and isn’t art. Some might say that one person’s BDSM-photography cannot compare with a HDR-landscape. I say they can in as much that if you can convince me the subject is well lit, composed and presents a story of some description, it is art. Yes, of course, I sometimes turn a blind eye to work where the artist is so-close to meeting that fine-sand-line.

Bread Crates

Where was I going? Oh yeah, people who are judgemental of other people’s artwork are often saying more about themselves then they are about the work.

By this I mean that if you don’t like a style of photography, don’t look at it. If you don’t like it, who are you to judge? Simply move on and get on with your life. When you spend the time to write an ugly comment, you might end up being the one that looks ugly, not the artwork you dislike. If you do feel the need to include a comment, make it constructive not destructive nor demeaning.

That’s it, I’ve said my piece on this issue.

POSTSCRIPT: As an ardent writer on many subjects yet not one for posting my own thoughts, I should also tell you that I wrote this piece in less than hour. I often find that the quicker I write a piece, the more raw it becomes. The less editing (and I mean of material, not speling misteaks), the better I feel the work will be. So I welcome your judgment, oops, thoughts on this post.

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