Miley Cyrus & Justin Bieber Think My Photos Suck
Pardon my French, but Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber think my photos suck. I was as shocked to hear this information as you are. But the fact remains. At first I felt crushed. Rejected. Lost. Alone. I thought about turning to antidepressants, but it seemed too fashionable an escape. Instead I chose to take a closer look at the situation and reevaluate. No, I didn’t reevaluate my photography. I reevaluated my audience.
Deep, deep down, from the bottom of my heart, I love Miley and Justin. They are more than just cats, they are my family. Oh, did you think I meant the actor / pop sensations Miley and Justin? No, I’m referring to my two lovely kittens pictured above.* Lovely kittens, with a terrible taste in art if you ask me.
I’m being unfair. That’s the bitterness talking. You see, I would love it if every one of my family, friends, pets, and even strangers – especially strangers – loved my photographs, my films, my books, and my hand crafted edible tea cozies. Ah, but it is not meant to be. That is okay. Why?
Because the most successful photographs, movies, books, whatever, they strike a cord with a particular audience. Thank goodness all audiences are not the same, so why should one piece appeal to them all? It shouldn’t. That’s why we have a target audience. That’s the type of audience we want to reach.
An audience of horny crack heads look for a different language, a different message than an audience of politicians – okay, maybe that’s a bad example. Same audience. Still, I think you get my point. Each type of audience is looking for something different. It’s hard enough getting your message across to one particular type. Try to communicate to all of them at the same time and you’re guaranteed to fail.
Kittens Miley and Justin tend to like butterfly photography, though images of fish guts seem to top their list. They aren’t big on conceptual portraits and couldn’t care less if I spent a month planing out the lighting or used an on camera flash.
Maybe some of your friends and family give your images a cool reception. Maybe an email reply to your latest facebook album from Aunt Boo hasn’t elicited the enthusiasm you were hoping for. Before you let the sweet, gooey blackness of depression flow over your nose holes, step back and think: is this person my audience? If they are, search out more reactions from your target audience. If the reaction is universal, you may – may – have to rethink your approach. But negative (and positive for that matter) feedback from people or pets that are not your target audience is irrelevant. It may not feel irrelevant when your grand dad is calling you a piece of shit looser, but that Nazi sympathizing old bastard won’t have much to say once you switch his heart pills with Fruit Loops. Besides, he’s not your audience.
If you care about your work, your art – and I hope you do – you are making yourself vulnerable by sharing part of you in each piece. It can be difficult to separate a negative judgment of your expression from a negative judgment of you as a person. Don’t make it worse by taking to heart the opinions of people who you aren’t aiming your message at in the first place. If they are the people you want to influence with your work and nothing you do seems to communicate your ideas to them, try speaking to them in their own language. Of course that is fodder for another post.
Feedback is essential both for developing your skills and for creating effective work. But don’t let anyone’s opinion of your work slow you down from creating more, particularly if the person sharing their opinion with you isn’t the audience you’re trying to affect.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some fish guts for my next photos shoot. Oh and a box of Fruit Loops.
*I do not actually own any cats at this time and if I did they’re names would most certainly not be Miley Cyrus & Justin Bieber – I’d probably name them something with more street cred like Lady Gaga and Sir Poopies.