Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giving and Receiving Criticism

My blog has moved from Blogger to my own domain.

The Naturography Blog can now be found at

This blog post can now be found at

Thank you for your interest.


gardenpoet said...

I really love your openness and gentleness, Mike, even when you are being specific and articulate (in this post and in our other conversations). One thing that I have learned during shows of my own work is that it is so much more intriguing to listen to other people's stories and ideas provoked by looking at my work than if I talk about what I am trying to do with it myself. Indeed, the very fact that any of one's work can cause another to feel or respond in anyway is thrilling. This particular shot of yours is pretty damn wonderful. It would be fun to write a whole essay or short story based on what it evokes. How were you feeling when you stood there? Were you close enough to feel the mist?

Mike Spinak said...

Thank you, Nancy.

I agree that I find it better, all around, to listen to other people's responses to my pictures than impose my own upon them.

I've recently started a blog series of telling people the stories behind my pictures. Part of me is rather uncomfortable doing this, because I don't want to impose my intentions upon people's interpretations. Nonetheless, I'm doing it, on a limited basis, for a few reasons:

One reason is to help people understand and appreciate that photography is (or at least, can be) intentional visual communication – about something – rather than simply being hollow visual designs.

The other reason is to give an idea of the way photographers think, and why they make the decisions they make, when creating pictures.

I also agree that it is thrilling when another has a feeling response to a picture.

I'm glad you like the Upper Yosemite Falls with Pines picture.

I was not close enough to feel the mist. In fact, I was a mile or two away. (I do have other pictures where I was right next to big falls, and feeling the mist. I'll show you, sometime.)

I was quite awed by the grandeur of Upper Yosemite Falls. I was also very focused to capture the right moment. (The blowing wind was constantly changing the angle, location, and thickness of the waterfall, in relation to the pines. I wanted the right moment of thick falls, with lots of turbulence, bright white, right behind the pines – to set them off, to serve for a sense of scale,to give a sense of elegant life taking root and persisting in unlikely challenging locations, and to bring a feeling of "completeness" to the flow of the waterfall.)

Also, I was a little bit puzzled. I was with my friend, photo buddy, and protegĂ©, Ron. He asked me what I was shooting. I showed him. His response was "I don't see the shot"(by which he meant he didn't see the significance and worth of the shot – didn't see what I was trying to show as my point-of-view about it).

Well... at least, when I got home and got the picture off the card and onto the screen, he said, "Oh, now I see it". :-)

Nelcha said...

Hi Mike,

I usually have NO problem when someone "asks" for a C&C, but I usually ask them what kind they want as you say.. there are different kinds. The first thing one needs to know is What the artist intended then,
I can let them know if their work Hit the Mark or
Fell short in some way.. either technically or in interpretation.

Also, I usually "prefer" the word Critique, which I didn't read in your post even once, but I see you
list in your tag words?

Many times photogs don't title their work and don't care about how you critique it cuz it was an Their Interpretation of THAT moment, and as such no other opinion matters.

So, like I said, unless explicitly asked, I won't comment, if asked I will... and I usually finish ending with IMHO.

BTW, other than the fact that your image was converted to B&W I have "almost the same image.
I Luv my longer lenses for what I call "optical extraction."

Maybe someday we will meet out in the field ;-)