A Tale of Two Prints

Digital Photography Sucks

Draw Your Own Conclusions

Enlarger Alignment Laser Module

Fine Art Photography

Knowing What You Want

Miss America and Ansel Adams

Painting versus Photography

Popularity is Overrated

Rare and There

The Art of Printing or Not

The Banality of Ink Jet Prints

Useless Idiot


Popularity is Overrated – March 8, 2008

Last night I found myself looking at pictures. I was browsing through books at first and then at various photography sites on the internet. And it’s amazing to me how people seem to crave some sort of manufactured validity. Of course everyone wants their work to be liked and appreciated and I completely get that. I really do. But what I don’t understand are the photography sites with the ridiculous rating systems and all the fawning comments. As if a rating on the internet is some measure of self-worth or some sign of irrelevance, or a vapid comment of faint praise is more valuable that a thoughtful criticism.

I know in society we’re programmed this way. We’re assigned grades, and given bonuses, and awarded stars, and told that it all matters. But really, what’s the point of grading a photograph? It almost seems that to some people, the grade is the point, and the actual work and creative process is simply a means to an end. It’s only the rating that matters, and any negative reaction to their creation is some kind of vicious attack on their character and their very being. How silly.

From where I sit, popularity is nothing. To me universal praise is the surest sign of a banal product. If somebody is not criticizing the work, and fervently so, something must be wrong. Most likely it’s that the work fails to challenge, inspire, or excite the viewer. Not every reaction should be positive. And if that’s the case, I can almost guarantee the work is condescending in its blandness.

Like the old saying goes, hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. And any truly great piece of art will be both hated and loved. Anything else is indifference. Simply put, I’d much rather be both adored and despised by a select few than mildly applauded by the masses. When I hear criticism along with praise, I know I’ve provoked. I know I’ve inspired. Popularity is overrated and great praise is hollow without the fervent denial of a few.