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Please don´t send me work for feedback,
electronic communication can´t replace direct contact.

 

 

Hi Zoltán,

We have corresponded in the past, and you were supportive (and critical) of my work. 
I wanted to share with you my latest series “Mow”*,
a subjective depiction of the Timpetonian* social landscape. 

Additionally, you can read a short piece that was written about my work here. 

I thank you in advance for your time and I would love to be featured on your website.

Best,
Alice*

Hi Alice*,

I hate to criticize your work, but the alternative would be not to answer your mail.
Your text is to much for the images. It talks about what you want, and not about what we are shown.
Too much mind, too much knowledge, too much knowledge about how to photograph.
You alternate between drab landscape photography (fine!….I like drabness)
and some shots that pretend to show a more subjective view of the world.
These two styles , at least in this constellation, don´t go together.

You have the means, but you haven´t found your own way of dealing with photography yet.
I wish you could find for yourself a real teacher.

All the best,
Zoltán

Dear Zoltán,

I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time not only to look at my work,
but to write me back.
I do not agree, however, with what you write.
This is not because you are critical, nor because you dislike my work,
but because I feel that you want to force into something that it is not,
which is, frankly, something I find very common in the photography world,
full of preconceptions, like how many pictures your series needs to have
or how long you need to work on a project.These kind of notions are not only arbitrary,
but very restrictive.
The work is precisely about the very two aspects
that you don’t think that go together. It is OK that you don’t like.
I don’t want your approval.
What I would like is the exposure that comes from being shown in your website.
Let your viewers decide for themselves what they think about the project.

On a final note, I would love to hear what a real teacher is in your opinion.
I have had several great teachers in the past,
and I honestly believe to be well educated in the history and practices of photography.
I may have to remind you that where I come from (Anyland)* and where I have studied (Otherland)*
have shaped my point of view,
just as your heritage shaped your point of view when making “Sich Erinnern”.
And please don’t take this as an offense, but I actually think some of our aims are very much alike.

Thanks again.
Alice*

Dear Alice,*

thanks for your patience with me.
I know how hard it is when ones work is rejected.
It always hurts.

With this mail you really sparked interest in me towards you as a person.
It is obvious that you got a good theoretical education, and probably you had some good teachers too.
Your texts show that. They explain very well what you are out to do.
The problem is, on my behalf, that I am looking for work that is not only well executed,
professionally executed, but for work that is hard to explain,
that bears the magic of the inexplainable,
that bears a quality that is hard to put into words.
And I am looking for images that are highly individual,
that nobody but the person who actually made the pictures could have done.
Most of the photography I see on the net I don’t like,
and actually I guess, I am simply tired of most of what I see.
Too much photography,
not enough magic. No space to discover the individual, no need to look for words,
because all I get to see is the obvious.
Maybe a part of this reflects my struggle with photography,
with the boundaries of photography and even more with my boundaries,
yes with my boundaries, that I encounter almost on an everyday basis.
I believe that rules are a hindrance, an obstacle, to produce the magic I am looking for.

I never got a tenure as a teacher, obviously I never could convince the commissions
that I would be a good teacher for photography students.
Because I was very unhappy with my teachers as a student
and because I do sometimes workshops for amateurs,
I had a lot of time and the need to think about what a good teacher might be.

I write as my thoughts come to my mind now:
There are as many roads to produce extraordinary work
as there are individuals who embark on this trip.
All these paths are different, are highly individual,
and a good teacher has to know and to articulate that there are no rules,
no easy formulas to produce good work.

The fundament of teaching is respect for and awareness of the students a teacher encounters.
A teacher is not a teacher but a mirror,
a teacher is not a teacher but something like a chemical ingredient that provokes and starts chemical reactions…

Sometimes it is enough tho ask one question to let somebody find his own ways,
his own path, to set out to an adventurous and tedious trip
to produce a body of work that is only his, uniquely his.
A teacher has to state clearly what he thinks when asked for an opinion.
(I am tired of diplomatic answers.)
Clear statements are a present, even if they do hurt at times.
A good teacher doesn’t tell you where to go,
but asks questions and helps to find answers.
The answers the students have to find themselves.
A good teacher is there to give structure.
A good teacher is there to give feedback.
Teaching is not a way to earn money, teaching is a huge responsibility.
Teachers shouldn’t waste the time of their students.

All this said, I have no advice for you.
I believe in your talent, I believe in your potential.
But I won’t publish your work. Too much thinking, not enough magic.

Something is still missing.

But of course this is only my opinion,
and there are thousands of people who will be thinking differently on this matter than I do.
Besides this, there are quite a bunch of other photography blogs that are a lot more prominent than mine.

I can’t help you, though I would love to.

All the best,
Zoltán

An afterthought:

Dear Alice*:
too much school in your work.

There is an inner voice in you,
do you know that?
Start listening to it.

All the best,
Zoltán

*I altered all names.