If you’ve never called yourself a photographer, you’ve probably never been subjected to photographic critique. This is a process by which other photographers dissect your image, applying their own tastes, experiences and preconceptions. If you’re fortunate enough to get some wise soul with similar tastes (photography is a broad church), you might learn something useful. But, probably not. You’ll just be less impressed with yourself than before.
Photographers are (generally) experts at taking photographs. But, they’re still learning all the time. I think—and this may be a little controversial—that they may not always be the best judge of a photograph’s merits. My theory is that they often cannot see the wood for the trees. They are sometimes too close to the process to appreciate the result. Are musicians the best judge of the latest album releases? No, of course not.
Does it matter if your image is over-exposed, cock-eyed, blurry or dark? Should you try to compose the main elements using the Rule of Thirds or Golden Rectangle as guides? Does it have to be in focus? There is no right answer. Or, if there was, I’d have to guess that the answer is: it depends. What does it depend on? Your guess is as good as mine.