I was recently told that the following image was too minimal.
I had mixed feelings. Although the criticism was about just one image, because I work hard to create minimal images I began to question my style. Isolating the simple from the complex is one of the many challenges I am faced with when composing a photograph. I am constantly looking around the frame, wondering what to include and exclude. I want to include enough information to ensure the viewer recognizes the subject and the environment within which it resides, while at the same time exclude those elements that contribute to neither the subject nor its environment. Isolating a subject from a complex scene is a skill that I have already invested a lot of time trying to perfect, and one that I want to keep on developing.
In analyzing my feelings:
- A psychologist would tell me to take criticism as a gift.
- The demons of self doubt could put me in a slump for weeks, or longer.
- My life experiences growing up in the north-east of England were telling me to react in some means that would have undoubtedly landed me in trouble with the authorities.
- The scientist and engineer in me was saying that for every action there should be an equal and opposite reaction.
There is truth in all of these individual feelings and therefore since criticism should be considered a catalyst for growth I decided not to respond to self doubt in a negative way but rather consider this as an opportunity to respond in a way that would help me grow as a photographer. In an earlier post I talked about “thinking outside of the box” and how incrementally adapting what you already do well is often the best way to solve problems. Since minimalism is an important part of my work I decided that the best way to solve this particular problem and grow is not to change my style, but rather to celebrate it. I plan to spend some time in the coming weeks going through my images and create small folios of my work in which I have used minimalism to emphasize the subject and help describe what I felt when I took the photographs.