Art Criticism: when to be constructive, and when to leave well alone

There is a man who lives in my area who, at every opportunity, forces on me his educated opinion of the deficit my photography shows with regards to technical skill. On the first occasion I met him, he sauntered up to me and made a comment about the seriousness – or lack thereof – of my equipment, sneering down on my diminutive Olympus XZ-1. I will be the first person to admit that I have little technical ability, having never learned how to shoot manually with any skill, but I do enjoy the images I create despite their lack of technical finesse.

I’m not someone who won’t take constructive criticism, when given with respect, but I will assert my right to choose how I take it. This man recently mentioned having seen some of my work where it hangs in a friend’s studio (where he paints fantastic larger-than-life portraits – find out more here), and momentarily after he had vaguely complimented it, he followed up with the swift and tactless pronouncement that I hadn’t shot the sky correctly, and proceeded to explain – as usual, without invitation – how it should be done (he has a degree, you see).

The image I believe he was referring to was the feature of this post in January, where the sky is quite white; had he seen some of the other photos I took at the same time and shared in this earlier post, where the sky has lovely clouds and isn’t so blown out, but which I felt were not as dynamic, he may have felt less inclined to bludgeon me, metaphorically speaking, with his boorish need to feel superior. As it was the only photo on exhibit with landscape including sky, I suspect he latched onto that flaw with delight and determined immediately to enlighten me the next chance he got.

I appreciate the effort many photographers have gone to in learning their craft, and sometimes feel a little disappointed I have not done that – though, of course, it’s not too late; however, photography is my hobby, not my profession, and while it doesn’t hurt to be always learning, improving my technical ability for the sake of the good opinion of one rude member of the community isn’t necessarily going to reap rewards for me.

Fabulous Fitzroy: das t-shirt automat


Coolest “hole in the wall” ever – this old home on a busy street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, has been converted to a t-shirt printing place, also offering a music recording service (on vinyl – sweet as!)  The very catchy radiant stripes lead your eye to the service window, and you can read the instructions on the information boards as you wait.

Please click to view full size.

Office of Many Levers


I borrowed the title for this post, as it seemed more fitting than anything I could come up with. The contrast of the yellow machine’s exterior with the view of the sky through the levers in the cockpit – the “Office”, as it were – fascinated me.
Please click to view full size.