03 Sep Validate Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar
Note to millenials and Generation X people. Old people do talk like this. And we know the references…
It is always a good day when you can dial ( generation gappers… ) into your internet and find someone on a camera forum who agrees with you. Who praises the same things that you own. Who validates your decision to buy something. It’s a little more tenuous when they are agreeing with something that you just thought of buying – but it’s still reassuring. Shows that you know the good stuff, even if you can never afford to own it.
It’s the same when you see a picture that you could have taken – perhaps some place that you have visited or some person who was once your model. It might even be a lighting setup that you have used, or just one that you read about in a book. In any case, if it is successful and unknown experts like the thing, it proves that you were right all along.
There’s a dark side to this. Sometimes you’ll happen upon someone who absolutely slates a piece of equipment you own. It might be a camera that they hate, or a lens, or just an accessory. They’ll write a review of it based upon a test run – or upon other people’s test runs – and point out all the bad bits. That’ll set you off like a frog in a sock at the perceived slight to your own taste or judgement. Even though there is no connection between you and the reviewer and they have no practical effect on your life – you still howl for blood.
This may well be despite the fact that you have mastered the equipment, technique, or subject matter long since. Your faith in yourself might be shaken by the slightest wind of disapproval of the gear you use. Don’t be ashamed of this reaction – it is a normal human one and we have all undergone it. But do pause before you send off a withering email or forum response – the person who wrote the bad review may have just been doing it under pressure of needing validation themselves – or, more practically, needing the rent money. Lots of writing in the photo trade is done by hacks ( you’re soaking in it now…) and if they have come down mean on the screen, they might not think that way in real life.
In all cases come back in the end to your own judgement based upon your own needs and experience. If you’ve been navigating the photographic North Atlantic for decades, there is no need to embark on their TITANIC.