SelvaObscuraVI_2002_425

Selva Obscura, Jefferson, Maine, 2002

I had no intention of making this image; I had left my ‘real’ medium format film camera home and brought a then new digital DSLR, a technology in its infancy at the time, to photograph a new puppy I was bringing home with my family. The drive through the foggy February forests of Maine was beautiful and late in the day as we neared a series of orchards the light turned golden. I stopped with no thought other than to enjoy the moment, making a series of exposures, before continuing on.

While I liked the images I produced that evening, I had no intention of displaying them, until everyone in my studio strongly urged me to do so. Response to these images has continued to be very positive. This one has become one of my top sellers.

This work didn’t fit neatly into the ideas I’ve been developing in my work for decades. It doesn’t present a view of nature seemingly untouched by man. It’s not a wasteland, either devoid of or filled with water. It’s conventionally clear where the life is, in living organisms, drawing attention away from the idea that there might be a spirit in other kinds of things. It didn’t fit for this and other reasons. Yet it was somehow connected. These images lay down a challenge.

As I was describing this process to my workshop participants one day remarking, “I don’t do trees.” one woman remarked, “I don’t think you can say that any more.” Touche.  The next morning on my way to class as I considered this further, acknowledging that I had always loved orchards, tending them as a boy and now living in another one, and that I deeply appreciated gardens and agricultural areas and sacred sites where man worked in concert with nature, the phrase came to mind, “Perhaps Eden can be restored, if we give it half a chance.” It’s a thought that runs deep inside all of my work. It’s my hope that what I share will kindle a greater sense of wonder for the natural world and inspire people to participant in it creatively and conscientiously.

That was one of a handful of days where the mission behind my life’s work became clearer and this image played a central part in that process. It’s become an important outlier in my body of work, which I’ve learned a great deal from.

In response, I didn’t decide to go in a new direction. I held to my original course, bringing the work I had already begun to completion – now with a renewed sense of purpose.

What you do with feedback is up to you. I recommend that you seek a lot of feedback from a variety of sources. Know the source of the feedback you receive. Don’t forget to give yourself feedback, the most important source of all. Weigh it all carefully, but make the final choice your own. In the end, it’s your choice. It’s your life’s work. It’s your life. Make it count.

Questions

What is good enough? How do you know?

What isn’t good enough? How do you know?

What is too much?

What is perfectly imperfect?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

Wow! Cool! Amazing! Fantastic! Beautiful! Great image! I love it! You can feel the love online — on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Picasa, Instagram, 500pix, BestCamera, and countless other image-sharing services, social networks, blogs, and websites. It feels good to give and receive praise. It can be motivating!

Ask For It

Do you want more love? Ask for it! There’s an implicit request for feedback when you post an image online, where people can comment on what you post. But, when you post images without a request for feedback, the number of responses you get goes down. Without an invitation, people may be hesitant to give you feedback. Or, they may not know how far to go and end up not going far as you’d like them to. So, if you’re looking for feedback when you post your work — ask for it. You’ll find people are quite happy to share their opinions with you.

Be More Specific

Love may not be the only thing you’re looking for. If you’re looking for more than love, there are many ways to find it. The way you ask for feedback can make a big difference in the kind of responses you get and how useful they are. If you don’t make a specific request, the responses you get will be general and unfocussed. Conversely, you can qualify the type of feedback you’re giving someone. State your approach before giving your feedback.

Ways To Give Feedback

There are as many ways to direct the kind of feedback you get as there are ways to give feedback. Here’s a list of eleven different kinds of feedback and ways to ask for it. You can ask the questions of either single images or groups of images. (You can even use this list to easily copy and paste questions when you post images online. Or make your own!) …

Read my full post on The Huffington Post.

Read more related posts on cell phone photography on The Huffington Post.

Seek Feedback

November 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment |


One of the most valuable aspects of a workshop is getting feedback on your work. You get it from a respected authority. You also get if from diverse participants. The combination of both is powerful. You’ll see your work more clearly, see it through others eyes, and find new ways of looking at your work.

One helpful approach is to ask a lot of questions.

Polls quickly give consensus on key issues. Which image is most memorable? Which image is strongest? Is it a 3, 4, or 5 star image?

How good is an image? First, identify the best thing about it. Then, to rate it, compare it to other images (your best or a respected artist’s) with same strengths.

Compare images. How do different images work together? Find formal echoes. Find thematic consistencies. Find shared stylistic traits. Sometimes, two images paired together are stronger than either one alone.

Identify outliers. Which image doesn’t fit with the others?

What could be done now to make it better? Crop? Adjust color? Dodge and burn?

What could be done in the future to make similar images better? Reframe? Return at a special time? Introduce a new element?

Read more in my Creativity Lessons here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

flickralumni

Share your images and feedback with other alumni.

Join John Paul Caponigro’s Alumni Group on Flickr.

When you post your images they’ll be shared in the image cloud above.

How many times have you been frustrated by the feedback you get and give?
Often it’s too simple.
“I like it.”
“I don’t like it.”
But you want more.
If you knew more you could improve more.
So, go further!
Whenever you’re looking at images ask yourself for more with one simple word. “Why?”
You many be surprised how hard it is to put your thoughts and feelings into words.
Don’t quit.
Try anyway.
You’ll find out some really interesting things.
Later, start asking others, “Why?”
You’ll get some really interesting answers.

Check out 12 books I recommend on critical thinking in photography here.

Get feedback in my workshops.


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