Photo Essay

Bend Me, Break Me

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Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape ~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Any photographic journey ebbs and flows... the moments of joy... the moments of discontent. Artists are tortured souls, sensitive and brooding mostly. Probably not the best springboard for critique. But how do we grow, change, or bend into a better shape without it.

Posting images to any photo site yields one of two responses: 1) acceptance, 2) rejection. There is no middle. Acceptance equals words of praise and serious 'propage'. Rejection, on the other hand, is silent. Social etiquette is likely the source of this silence. As Thumper said, "If you don't have anything nice to say... don't say anything at all". But what good is that 'kindness' if the end result is stagnation.

Criticism, constructive or otherwise, translates as a mortal wound. It is a knee-jerk response to truth. As a rule, people don't want the truth. They only want 'their' version of it. So, when and if it comes our way, we bristle, we unfriend, and we plot our revenge. The question is: how do we move past that response? I think the answer lies in our desire to keep it moving in a forward direction.

So that's what the photo essay is about... voluntarily asking for some tough love. I will start with a current liked image and then will add 10 images that fell flat here on JPG. Because I can't see the forest for the trees, I am asking you to point it out. Pick out one or more of these images and tell me, specifically, why you think it/they tanked.

Anyone who wants to participate in this experiment can do the same. Choose 10 of your own images that circled the drain (assuming you have a few), put it in photo essay format and then post your link as a comment here. I will nominate it for Story of the Week (to share it), then you do the same for others that are willing to run the gauntlet. I guarantee it will be completely liberating.

Here's an assortment of my flops :-)

27 responses

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (23 Feb 2014):

    wonderful shot...great narration and creative!!! vote!!! I liked it....

  • joel salas

    joel salas gave props (23 Feb 2014):

    good job!

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (24 Feb 2014):

    In JPGs challenge, Community Critique, the description reads, "Understanding what others think of your work can help you grow as a photographer, so this is a space for people to receive or give constructive criticism." Yet, the feedback to the images posted is just about all positive. I really think we would grow as photographers and a community if we could trust each other enough to share this type of feedback.

    Silence translates as 'failure to have impact'... in other words, being ignored. I, for one, would rather have critique than the sounds of silence. Still, it takes a bit of character and strength to receive constructive criticism as an adult and then apply it to your journey.

  • Aaron Schwartz

    Aaron Schwartz   gave props (25 Feb 2014):

    Yes.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   gave props (25 Feb 2014):

    I adore you Aaron... I really do.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (25 Feb 2014):

    Thanks also to Saroj and Joel for stopping by to comment and to Andy for the nom. Let the bloodletting commence. Broom Gilda... fetch the Caladrious Bird.

  • Andrew Dutton

    Andrew Dutton   gave props (26 Feb 2014):

    Your flops are better than my successes, great essay, great photos!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes   gave props (27 Feb 2014):

    Brava, my friend. This is exactly what we need to grow as artists. Time and again I've experienced the benefits of constructive criticism within writer's groups. The right choice words completely changed the course of my writing and put me on the path I know I'm meant to take. Wish I could vote more than once.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (27 Feb 2014):

    Deb ~ I couldn't agree more. I think that knee-jerk reaction is a carry-over from the growing up years, sort of like getting a shot. When I was working, the extreme reactions people put out there for a simple shot was a mystery to me. What I discovered is that it had little to do with reality and everything to do with a childhood fear that was never reset.

    I think your comments about your writer's group have much application. Photographers are as insanely protective of each and every pixel as writers are about their words. Instead of the knee-jerk, we need to learn how to breathe in... breathe out... then apply the lesson. Life is a learning experience. Often that journey requires hitting the reset button... more than once.

    Thanks for your feedback here and on the photo. It is appreciated AND liberating

  • Shayla Simmons

    Shayla Simmons   gave props (2 Mar 2014):

    Congrats on being Story of the Week!

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (2 Mar 2014):

    Many thanks to JPG staff for this nod. It is appreciated.

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes   gave props (3 Mar 2014):

    Congrats, my dear friend. So well deserved!

  • Michael Veith

    Michael Veith said (3 Mar 2014):

    Hey Bailey! Love the idea and great job on being Story of the Week!

    Here is my own 10 that I have compiled.

    http://jpgmag.com/stories/19675

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (3 Mar 2014):

    Hey Mike ~ Thanks for the image feedback. It was great and I learned a lot about what I need to be looking for in future image construction. Can't wait to see your flops. Lets hear it for the stout of heart Mr. Mike.

  • Pamela Haberman

    Pamela Haberman   gave props (4 Mar 2014):

    “The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey   gave props (4 Mar 2014):

    Always so wonderfully thought-provoking...congratulations on this Story, well deserved!

  • Pamela Haberman

    Pamela Haberman   gave props (4 Mar 2014):

    Bailey, the quote is by Rilke. There are many more dealing with art, being an artist. Know that you would die if you couldn't do your art, regardless of who likes it. Congratulations on posting the Story of the Week.

  • Aaron Schwartz

    Aaron Schwartz   gave props (4 Mar 2014):

    Congrats on Story of the Week! Yay.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (4 Mar 2014):

    Pam ~ I'm a quot-a-holic. Love words and the Rilke quote is wonderful. So, I'm surprised that he absolutely does not float to the top when I scrunch my eyes and try real hard. His name is just not embedded in the brain anywhere, but his book 'Letters to a Young Poet" is, though I've never read even a page. Time to up my literary game. Thanks for your words and time Pam. It is appreciated.

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (4 Mar 2014):

    Silence translates as 'failure to have impact'... in other words, being ignored. I, for one, would rather have critique than the sounds of silence. Still, it takes a bit of character and strength to receive constructive criticism as an adult and then apply it to your journey....Well said!! CONGRATS!! Well deserved!!

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (4 Mar 2014):

    To Aaron and Lynn ~ Thank you both for taking time from your day to stop by and comment. I appreciate you both, your art and your sense of style. Top shelf she thinks.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (4 Mar 2014):

    A special thanks to kil roy metters, who gave me feedback on the whole lot. Everything he said was spot on and pointed out some pretty glaring issues I have with my photography that I will be working on in the months to come. I greatly appreciate kr taking time from his day to help me improve and grow. This is what community is all about. Thank you my friend, thank you very much.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (4 Mar 2014):

    Thank you darling rekha. You are a very special lady.

  • ROCIO GUILLEN

    ROCIO GUILLEN   gave props (6 Mar 2014):

    Congrats Bailey!

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (6 Mar 2014):

    That you Rocio for stopping by and commenting.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (23 Mar 2014):

    Many thanks to JPG staff for the Story of the Week recognition. It is an honor.

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