I was going through some old information and thought this might be something helpful to share. In the Photofocus Community, we have a monthly Photo Assist Live show. Members submit images and the Photofocus authors talk about the images, answer questions the person has about it and helps them figure out ways to make an image just that much better.

Here’s a lesson learned. Sometimes when learning in groups of people, it’s easy to take other people’s opinions and toss them aside. Not in a mean way, but in a “they have no idea what I was trying to do with this image and I’m not them and this is what THEY would do, not what I would do” sort of way.

The one thing about trying to help others with their photography — it’s theirs, it is not our image and when helping others we should be asking questions before we even say one thing about their photograph. It’s critique vs. opinion. Big difference.

Critique vs. opinion

After posting this image in a mentorship type group I am in, I mentioned that I should probably take out the white house on the left as it is a bit distracting but, I’m a big realist when it comes to most of my photography. I shoot what’s there and what I see. Rarely do I photograph with the intention to manipulate or change what I saw.

Original image, crooked horizon and all.

Anyway — this person agreed and also said I should take out all the white spots along the shore. I get it. I do, and I did. I still get it and agree. But, it was also a lake, with a shoreline, with houses on it.

The story though in this photograph isn’t the shoreline or even the lake. It’s that little chunk of ice that popped up and froze on the surface. So, eliminate anything that distracts from your story.

In the end, I suppose it depends on what my intentions were with the final image. This one? I have no idea. In all honestly, I’m not sure I should have even spent any time editing it at all. For what? Will it sell? Will I hang it in my home? I’ll post it online, but for what? Well, in this case, to show a lesson learned.

I’m stubborn sometimes with editing. What I like and what I do are very personal just like any of us. I appreciate and respect what others do and their skills but it’s not what I want to do. Personally, I stick pretty hard and fast to who I am as a photographer. Mostly. I do play, it’s how I learn. Sometimes those playtimes produce quite wonderful results!

Lessons learned

So, there’s a little lesson today. Most I know are quite open-minded or we wouldn’t be in these groups trying to push forward and learn more. But, be open-minded, more. Always. Even when there are reasons (whatever they may be) that you wouldn’t normally choose to listen to someone else.

Is it better without the house and other houses along the shore? What would you do with this photo? It’s likely you never would have put your camera on the ice and photographed this scene in this way in the first place. The bottom line is there are always lessons to learn if we ask for help and if we look for them.