Ego vs. Learning in photography

6 min read

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kkart's avatar
Well, this may ruffle a few feathers, I kind of expect that. This however has been on my mind for a LONG time now. So I thought  that I would sit down this morning and belt this out.

Ego vs. Learning in photography--- Us photographers at times are quite a needy bunch aren't we? We join all these sites on the internet to get a sense of self gratification about our images, a little pat on the back here, a little hug in comments there. All to satisfy our ego and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Truth be told, honestly, it does little in the way to make us any better when it comes to that medium of artistic expression we love so

I know many on here are honest to God afraid to give an honest critique. It seems to be the result of 2 things;
a) "I don't feel as though I am good enough or know enough with regards to photography to give such advice"
b) "I am afraid of the backlash I might get if I am honest with someone and so I just don't critique and say "nice shot" instead."

Both of these are very valid reasons, of course. I understand both of those, especially having run in to a few people on here who actually ask for a critique in their work, but then completely become unglued when you are honest with what you say. (it is my opinion that people who do this generally don't use the critique function for a critique, but a way to get more pageviews and their work seen more...sad really, and again, it is that whole ego thing getting in the way)

If we look at reason "a" from above and we take a good solid look at it, in depth, we can find that combating it is a relatively easy process. I have always said that DA is NOT the best place to actually learn about photography, get honest feedback, or to grow artistically as a photographer. It is, after all, a social networking site, not a photography site. Thankfully such sites exist that cater to those of you who REALLY want to better yourselves.

The kicker however is this; you don't NEED to post your images to honestly learn to better yourself as a photographer. I know to some of you this will come as a relief, because many feel intimidated by the true, high end photography sites. The nice thing is that they all have incredible articles that will help you to better yourself, written by some of the best out there. Such examples are;

"Using Image Critiques to Improve Your Photography"--on Naturescapes (talk about coming full circle as it relates here lol)

"How To Shoot "Bad" Light"--written by none other than Ian-Plant over on

"An overview of camera lens filters" on Cambridge in Colour…

Also, how many of you read photography blogs? There are so many out there, it is almost to the point of sheer insanity. Make no bones about it though, they are some of the best ways to actually learn about the art and craft that is photography.

Another question--how many of you have actually READ the manual for your camera? I once heard the excuse of "I don't read my camera manual, I don't understand things that way at all..." Yes, because directions are so hard to understand especially when paired with illustrations lol Don't be lazy, just do it! It is there for one thing and one thing only; to HELP you.

So in the end, do you want to feed your ego with emotes of hugs and pats on the back, or do you want to learn to actually make your images the very best that they can be? That choice my friends, comes down to you and you alone.


© 2011 - 2021 kkart
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faythrose's avatar
I finally was able to read this and I am glad you pointed this out. I have joined many sites in hopes of getting honest critiques and found none. When I do get some it is VERY rare. I then start to drift away from some of these sites. It seems some sites are more about advertising then anything. Also, the communities are mostly of those who do not know much about art but just like to view it. I need a site that I can count on for individuals with honesty and with at least some experience so I can better myself. I do have a certain way I do my work, but as long as I can get feedback on the way the photo is shot, the lighting, etc. I am not lucky enough to go to college and learn more so I rely on the internet, books, and individuals. Do you know of any sites that are useful for my needs? =P
BeehiveStudio's avatar
I wanted to let you know and ask you if it is ok that I pimp this interesting journal in the upcoming issue of #dArtzine with a link to this journal of course and credit to you =D
kkart's avatar
of course it is :)
yori1976's avatar
Well Johnny,

You hit another nail on the head, but I am sure many people, rather than looking for ways to improve, just want to hear they are good, and this site serves them quite well... No need to read a lot, can post anything, and someone will probably give you a :+fav: or a "nice shot"...
As said in another journal - I don't care why they are here, or what contamination (of any type) there is. I look at what I want, delete my watched images without regret, and post comments where I think they could help someone, or just to enter into a possibly interesting discussion. Sometimes I thanks people that :+faved: my work, and I always reply o comments (I can do that, not to many people comment on my work lol.

So people who want to learn will go where they can learn.
I hope people learn when I comment on their work, I hope they enjoy it too...
x-ybase's avatar
Your journals are great, and you always bring up topics in need of discussion, but i can't help myself to notice that despite all your rambling against ego-filling and straying away from art, it is exactly what you get in the comment section on all of your journals... Kinda interesting. :)
But please do keep it up, as it is a great source for learning as a photographer, all i am saying is that you might not want to be so harsh on the stuff, while in a sense you might be doing it yourself.
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
Oh yeah, and :iconlegoplz: my ego! :rofl:
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
I just come here for the llamas :iconllamajumpplz:, emotes :iconemoteappreciateplz: , hugs :icondoublehugplz:, and pats on the back :icongrinpatplz:. Oh yeah, and fav's! :iconfavbounceplz:
But all joking aside (okay, I'm not really joking about the above because I love it all!) I always read my manual and make sure I know what every setting does. I own lots of books (and even open them up from time to time), read blogs, articles, and practice my little (or not-so-little) butt off to get better.
And I've actually gotten some good feedback from this site. Some opinions are not ones I agree with, but I thank the person for their feedback anyway. But if someone just wants to say "nice shot" or whatever, I like that, too. I appreciate and enjoy whatever people have to offer here. And sometimes people point out things I didn't notice about my shot and then I really appreciate that so I can fix it!
I have said from the beginning that I will NEVER let my photography feel like work. It is not my day job and even though I make money from it, I will always make sure that I'm enjoying what I do. It's my passion. It's what I love. And if that means I do a little happy dance because my latest shot made it onto the front page, so be it. I am happy doing my art my way and no one can change that.
And now for a little happy dance..... :iconhappydancerplz: (I'm on the front page!) Hahahahaha!
kkart's avatar
I am pretty much of the train of thought that DA is probably one of the worst sites to actually learn more about the craft itself. Just my 2 cents, but honestly, if people want to really get better, then they should join some other sites. DA is fine for hanging out and chewing the fat, but for learning? It is like a person with ADD's biggest nightmare lol
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
I have ADD and I love dA......uh, what were we talking about? lol! :rofl:
As for learning about the actual craft, I find that information comes in small bits here and there....blogs, magazines, books, forums, conversations, etc. There is no one source that will fill all your needs. Sometimes it's just someone telling how they achieved a shot. Those are my favorite..rather than general tips.
I think if people want to get better, they should practice and read their asses off. :D No matter what site you are on, you won't get any better unless you are actually taking pictures and working on improving.
kkart's avatar
To many chef's in the kitchen, I have ADHD myself. :lol:

I do agree that not once source has it all, and I also believe that some are a LOT more valuable than others. I wouldn't even especially list DA as a site to really better yourself, it is more of a picture sharing place than anything where people can converse in a coffee shop like atmosphere. It all boils down though educating yourself, self immersion if you will. Knowledge is the key to just about everything, photography is no different. Study and study your collective booty off! lol :highfive:
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
I don't have the H part of the ADD....well, at least I don't think I do.....I have lots of energy, but have never been reprimanded for not settling down when necessary. I'm just easily distracted, but when I can hyperfocus, boy, watch out! lol! I've been trying the Mozart Effect lately....listening to Mozart when I need to focus. It helps a bit.

For me to continue enjoying doing what I do, I need dA....I love the feedback. No site gives it the way they do here. To improve, I search for specific techniques and get the info from all over the place. Out of my whole current issue of Outdoor Photography magazine, I only got one tidbit of information that I felt was helpful. But that one tidbit is about all you get from anything at one time it seems. Funny how that is.
kkart's avatar
ya I used to have it when I was younger, though I do seem to have outgrown many aspects of it, now learning disabilities are another thing. I have learned to compensate, pretty much. They never thought that I would read or write and anything that is basically analytical, math being a great example, I simply either can't do or have a very hard time doing. I have compensated from my right brain essentially taking over for my left, otherwise known as my creative side being a lot more predominant. In order to do math, I often associated numbers with colors, it is why when I studied color theory I had no problem with remembering their percentage of luminescence values, or the different scales of grey. Crazy huh? lol

Mozart is nice, though I prefer Vivaldi :D

I don't think I personally need DA, feedback is nice, but after awhile it just got old with "nice shot", and I want to hear something more, something deeper, something that I will remember, if that makes sense? It probably doesn't help that I literally drown in comments on here too...I haven't read an issue of Outdoor Photographer in ages, though I did notice that they now have an electronic edition available. Want a few great sites to check out?


Good stuff there, just interesting little tidbits for ya. Grab their RSS feeds
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
I didn't have any learning disabilities....was always the one who didn't have to study and everyone copied of me. lol!

Vivaldi is good, too. It's whatever works for you, really. :)

When I first got into photography, I would put a different picture in a frame on my desk at work and people would stop by and comment about the picture, ask me about where it was, etc. I guess I've always enjoyed that exchange. For me, taking pictures isn't worth it if I can't share it with others. One thing I really like is when someone asks me something about my shot and I don't know the answer....'cause then I go in search of the answer so it makes me learn something.

Thanks for the links, although I don't do RSS feeds....I am so overwhelmed everyday with just email and comments that I only visit pages as I have time. I unsubscribed to pretty much everything to give my poor ADD brain a break. lol!
kkart's avatar
Yep, I have them, pretty drastic too!

I have always loved Vivaldi, just something about his music.

Oh I like feedback as well, but the whole "nice shot" is just old and worn out in my seems a lot of the times people say that in hopes you will come to their page and see their work too. I have actually had people get angry and upset with me because I didn't thanks them for the fav. Is that REALLY what this is all about? I remember my x girlfriend Judy ~osagelady saying to me before she left DA, about how she is sick of the whole "game", a comment for a comment, a fav for a fav. She has a point, it is one big huge game. I think that i have moved on in many respects that now days, I am concentrating hard on getting my work seen in front of editors and publishers, not so much in a community atmosphere anymore. That is why I have been concentrating a great deal on my facebook photography page and twitter. If I was smart, and used my own advice (lol) I should be concentrating a LOT more on flickr than anywhere else, because there your work does get seen, by publishers. I think in the next couple of weeks I will upgrade to a pro account on there once I have finished keywording my best shots on my personal website. (zenfolio allows for direct export out to flickr) It is hard to send people to DA for me...knowing that at any given second, someone could get infected with rogue malware or a virus for an advert, knowing that someone could read lewd language in comments on my work, knowing that one can't even browse fully because they are stopped dead in their tracks with full page ads. 70% of the professional photographers I brought here when I was a GM and who did the whole "DA professional nature photographer interview series" are now gone and all have said basically the same thing; "DA is certainly not where i want to be or have my work shown". I think that says a lot.

I started using Google Reader and it made life a LOT easier, can get it all on my phone which is a Droid. There are some incredible photo blogs out there, to say teh least, and knowledge is the key! :D
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ibjennyjenny's avatar
YOU are my manual. :nod:
kkart's avatar
:heart: Thanks babe!
bluetaipan's avatar
Dude that was simply amazing! Having only started more in landscapes I def have found this a rather valuable read. I started in photography as a way to show my love an interest of animlas/snakes in another way with photography. It's so true with critiques, but i believe in id rather hear the honest truth then for them to beat around the bush, it helps me learn to develop more and more. As for reading the manual I have read a bit but i like to learn from hands on experience. Ty for your amazing work and if only I could learn from you more!
Yasmin88's avatar
Love what you've written in your journal and I guess it could be applied to other forms of visual art :D . My ego is almost my worst enemy ....
JadeLotus's avatar
Thank you for posting this! I've been feeling like I've gotten in a rut photographically speaking, and this gave me a little kick in the butt, especially since I've been putting off reading my own camera manual for the past year and a half. A tool is only good if you know how to use it!

NeZtIlOy's avatar
...I'm always posting my photos online because I want to see if people like them. It makes me feel so good when people write comments on my photos. I feel I have improved a lot since I got my camera, but of course I have so much to learn. I do want people to critique my photos, but at the same time I'm scared of what they might say.
kkart's avatar
Ahhh don't be like that, your work is outstanding, trust me. It is. You can very much hold your own!
NeZtIlOy's avatar
Thank you so much!! You made my day!! :woohoo:
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