I was reading TOP (the online photographer) today, on making snap judgements on whether images are anything from wonderful to crap, and the response from one reader that the best images all were of the same style/subject that he photographs.
This got me thinking. How much can you learn from looking at images similar to yours? You might well improve your composition, tonalities, lighting, or even sharpness, but there is unlikely to be any quantum leap in your abilities as a photographer.
If instead one were to take some images you definitely don't like, but which are consistently recognized as wonderful and spend some considerable time with them, just perhaps that quantum leap in abilities might just happen.
Apropos this, I can't help but read the reviews of my books on Amazon, and of late there have been several extremely negative reviews of both my writing (which is fair enough) and of all the photography in "Why Photographs Work" which is frankly pretty darn stupid. In the end, these kind of negative reviews "I only saw three or four photographs I liked" say far more about the ignorance of the writer of the review than it does about my book, or for that matter, any book.
What they are saying, in essance, is that they don't see any redeeeming worth in the photographs of Ted Turner, Bruce Barnbaum, Michael Kenna, Beth Moon, Elizabeth Opalenik etc.
Given the multipublication of their work, the numerous books they have in print and the general respect in which they are held, it would behoove the photographer who feels that way to spend some time studying these and other famous images they don't approve of and if over time they still can't see the worth of such images, should sit down with someone of experience who does.
One of the great joys of exploring the world of art is to find new great artists and to learn to appreciate their work.
Since the development of youtube I have 'discovered' the work of Queen, and its leader Freddy Mercury. I'd heard the name, never knew the work. It's been a fantastic trip, and such a tragedy to lose someone of his talent 'before his time'.
Anyway, I was giving a talk on photography last weekend and used a couple of music analogies, including a short clip from Queen, which not one person in the audience of more than 100 was able to identify.
You can look at this as sad, that they have been denied this great music, or alternatively be glad for them that they can come across Queen's work for the first time. Where was I when Queen was at its height. Wasn't I ready for it at the time?
Give yourself a chance to make new discoveries, and should your reaction be negative where many you respect feel otherwise, give yourself a chance to warm to the images.