why we need criticism, sometimes.

When you open yourself and your art to the public,
you are also opened to the wonderful world of opinions and criticism.
Whether you are a photographer, author, painter, performer,
sculpture, athlete, or actor,
your art is open for public viewing,
and with viewing, opinions come forth.
That’s the way it is.
Think about your opinions toward your favorite and least favorite author, 
favorite and least favorite singer,
and favorite and least favorite actor.
We all have opinions about everything,
so at some point we will be on the giving and receiving end.
I have been on the receiving end of great criticism and horrible criticism
(aka just being mean),
but they were both valuable to my growth as a person and photographer.
When criticism is first delivered,
our ego minds are triggered and it wants to scream profane things at that person….
but once we calm down and finally come to our senses,
we are able to reflect on the criticism and determine if:
1. the criticism is constructive
2. the source is trustworthy
3. the intent is to help, not to harm

(-from Jasmine Star’s “Exposed” magazine)

I believe a healthy balance of praise and constructive criticism
is the recipe for success.
No good comes from someone only receiving praise their entire lives
or only receiving criticism.
I welcome constructive criticism
from a few of my trusted friends/colleagues/photographers
because it forces me to reexamine my business and work from a different perspective.
Ultimately, even if their words stung for a few minutes,
my photography and business improved in ways i would normally not have noticed!
If our ego’s were only stroked,
we would not improve our art because we would believe there is nothing to improve on!

It’s no coincidence that a book I received for Christmas and read this week,
has some great advice about this topic.
Randy Pausch, a professor dying of pancreatic cancer
shares his wisdom in the The Last Lecture:

“Getting people to welcome feedback 
was the hardest thing I ever had to do as an educator.
It saddens me that so many parents and educators have given up on this.
When they talk of building self-esteem, 
they often resort to empty flattery rather than character-building honesty.
I think the downward spiral of our education 
is that there is too much stroking
and too little real feedback.”

“…..When you see yourself doing something badly 
and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a bad place to be.
You may not want to hear it, 
but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you
and care about you, and want to make you better.”

“‘Randy, it’s such a shame people perceive you as being so arrogant,
because it’s going to limit what you’re going to able to accomplish in life.’
Looking back, his wording was so perfect. 
He was actually saying,
‘Randy you’re a jerk,’ 
but he said it in a way that made me open to his criticisms.
I’ve been lucky enough to benefit over the years from people like Andy,
who have cared enough to tell me the tough-love things that I needed to hear.”

-via Pinterest

This post’s intent is to express my opinions gained from my experiences.
It is not to encourage people to go running in the streets yelling mean things,
only that in the right timing and if the criticism is constructive, 
from a trustworthy source,
and intended to help, not harm the person,
criticism/feedback is an important tool to improve oneself and their art/business.