Sorry, but I don’t like your drawing.

It is Friday morning early, or call it Thursday night late. It is time for me to wrap up for the day and close the laptop. But, as I often do I go to one of the few social networks that I like to work on and leave some comments. The social network is modelmayhem.com (you can visit my portfolio at http://www.modelmayhem.com/cantanopy) which is all about photography. I like actually being online there, although I am not a fan of social networks, because photography and working with models is really one of the few hobbies I have.

But, it also shows a bit of the flaw of many social networks. I have 100+ photographer friends. Some of who I am really proud, like Holly Randall, but a lot that, well, are hardly friends at all. And that is a bit of the drawback for me. I don’t have 100+ friends, I cannot even name 5 of them. To be honest, I named only Holly Randall because that is one of the names I remember because she is a well known photographer. But also on facebook, Twitter… people who have 500+ friends or followers, what does it really mean?

But let’s not get into that. I actually wanted to write this post after visiting one of the portfolio’s on the site. It was of one model in Chicago. But besides photos that looked rather well, not exceptional but for an amateur model quite good, but it also showed – and I have no clue why – drawings. And not really good ones. Fine, I like that actually that someone shows in his or her portfolio what he or she likes, who he or she is or identifies with. Everyone can lie, but not everyone can be him- or herself.

But these drawings, as said, were of a rather ‘mwwwwoooaaah’ level. But there were comments. 10 actually on this particular drawing, which ranged from ‘Excellent work!’ to ‘Not only a great model but also a great artist.’ And I realized actually, these are the kinds of comments I read so much. Why, on a social network dedicated to a profession, are people always so positive.

When I ask people to criticize my work, I would like to hear the good, but also where could be room for improvement. That is why I am on that site, I love to hear from other photographers what they like, what they would have done and what their opinion is, and why. I like it when someone says ‘That’s a great photo’ but really, it does get me out there trying to make a better photo.

Try to be yourself. This model who is not yet the model that she can become, has no use of positive comments just not to hurt her feelings. She will not grow to become a good model, who manipulates the viewer and camera. I don’t mean bashing around, but when you are on a profession social network, be indeed professional. Praise where praise is due, but also deliver your honest opinion.

In my work as an (interaction) designer I get a lot of criticism, because as other professional designers also know, you always get criticized. At a certain moment you know what criticism you can ignore ( a client that says that his nephew of 12 can do this work too, or someone who has trouble using a mouse telling you that in his web-designing experience he knows a lot better) but also when criticism is actually very valuable. Let me know where I can improve, when I know that the person who is giving me this Stoicism knows what he/she is talking about.

I think we are all a bit overly social in social networks. Let’s be normal again.

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