A postcard from the edge

Sauble Beach, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Recently my work was described as looking too much like postcards – too many sunsets and saturated colours. I found myself at a loss for words.

The portfolio had pictures I was proud of and which represented some of my best work. In truth I’d asked for the feedback, but it turns out I wasn’t quite ready for the truth. My immediate reaction was to step away from photography. Plans to attend other courses were suddenly up in the air, motivation to take new pictures was hard to find. Until I began to wonder who am I trying to please – artists, consumers or me?

I should be trying to please me, but what do I want, art or commercial product? I thought I wanted to create art, I thought that I was creating art. What is art?

I like the picture on this post. Is it another postcard, does it have artistic merit? I can’t tell anymore.

  1. sabrina said:

    So many good questions, Ken and they all need a conversation rather than a comment. In my experience the vast majority of people do not know how to give feedback on images. They tell us what THEY would do which isn’t particularly helpful for advancing us in our pursuit of creating art. In those cases, I have learned to assess if there is anything useful in what they have to say and then leave the rest behind. It isn’t easy but I have a mentor to help me with it.

    I realize you invited the feedback but in my opinion that is not a license to say whatever one thinks. The most constructive evaluations of my images have always begun with a question, several questions before anything is offered. Someone who is really interested in helping another always tries to understand the intent of the artist and never makes assumptions.

    I have always found your images to be reflective of someone who takes great care and thought. I wish more people would do that.

    • Ken Udle said:

      I’m so glad that you took time to comment and I appreciate your thoughts on my photos. You are right of course that the feedback represented that person’s opinion – that fact was made clear at the time. Still when you value that person’s opinion and had the impression the work was looked upon favourably before, the critique seems to come from left field if you know what I mean.

      The ironic thing is that this was someone I had considered asking if they’d be willing to be a mentor.

      • sabrina said:

        Then you’ve been given a gift, Ken. A narrow escape. They were good to tell you that was their opinion but sometimes that’s just a disclaimer so people can say whatever they want to say (not that this was the case here). Sometimes feedback says more about the person giving it than the images of the person receiving it.

        I had someone look at your image with this post because I felt it was much more than just a postcard. It holds a lot of emotion and you were speaking from your heart. The reply was “Ken knows more than he thinks he does.” A good mentor believes in you more than you believe in yourself. They look beyond just the image in front of them and see your potential.

        Choose carefully. That’s what I did and it’s made a world of difference to my photography.

      • Thanks again, especially for taking the time to seek another opinion and to share that with me. Have you written in your blog about the process of finding a mentor and how that relationship has helped you?

  2. Bonnie said:

    Hi Ken.
    I for one am glad you are once again taking and posting photos. Like Sabrina above I too have always found your photos to be thoughtful and often thought provoking! They often speak to the depths of my soul.
    Like Lisa i think that only good pictures make onto postcards and I would add what is wrong with sunsets and saturated colours???
    I didn’t know about a book but would love to have a chance to take a look at it sometime if that is possible.
    Blessings as you pursue this love you have for photography.
    Love you

  3. Ken Udle said:

    Thanks Bonnie, I’m really glad that you like my work.

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