Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Picking of Nits

    As I browse the many interesting photography blogs and forums on the internet, I have one goal: to learn. From gear to post processing, from composition to printing, there is an endless variety of sites that offer excellent advice. Many of the images posted are amazing and I often ask the question, "How can I take my photography to that level?"  Another question I ask is, "Why are some photographers so nit picky?"
     A literal nit picker is a person who removes the eggs of lice from a hosts hair. Now these nasty nits are sticky little beggars and years ago your only two options were to shave off all your hair or hire a nit picker. This is a tedious job that requires unbelievable attention to detail. Nowadays chemicals are used to treat this problem and literal nit picking is not as common. So what is a nit picker to do? It would be a tragedy to not be able to share that talent with others. What can a picker of nits do to hone their craft and make sure that they are not a dying breed? It seems, some take up photography. I think this may be where the phrase 'shutter bug' comes from, but don't quote me.
      Over the years, the term 'nit picker' has come to describe one who meticulously searches for minor, trivial errors in detail and then criticizes them. While I understand that people have a right to their opinions and their own preferences, it never ceases to amaze me how many people are critical of their fellow photographers work and are not only more than willing to vocalize it, but can come across as rude and arrogant in the process. True, some do ask for critique and suggestions, no doubt because they want to improve and become better photographers. This is very commendable and can be very beneficial. But can it at least be done politely?
     "That HDR is overdone." "The sky is too dark." "It lacks foreground interest" "No point taking photographs unless the light is perfect." "You should clone out that little branch, it's too distracting." There is no end to the criticism. Have we considered the possibility that the photographer took that picture because THEY liked it?
       I do believe that constructive criticism, if asked for and delivered appropriately, really can help a photographer to improve, especially when it comes to the technical aspects. But, photography is also an art form and as such is very personal. On this level, it can be considered presumptuous to be overly opinionated and become a nit picker. While one may not find it personally appealing, that does not mean that others agree. Art is subjective. Yes, no doubt, that image of the lake would be more striking if it was taken at sunrise or sunset. The fact is, the photographer wasn't there at sunrise or sunset. He or she was there at mid day. It's still a beautiful image.
       So how many nits could a nit picker pick if a photographer could pick nits? Apparently, a lot. But consider: You have nits. You like them, they're your friends. A nit picker comes along and has the audacity to pick your nits. How would you feel? "Leave them alone", you cry. "These are my nits. Get your own!"  Guess what? They have their own. But they figure that if they can get people focused on your nits, others won't notice the little infestation they themselves have going on.
     Am I being nit picky? I hope not. I don't want to be known as a nit picker. But one thing I do know....... a lot of photographers are bald....... or wear hats.


  1. Bravo Andrew!! This is so true!
    No one wants to be known as a nit-picker!
    Especially now!! =)


  2. Eeeh eeeh eeeh! I love it Andrew!! Hilarious!
    I completely agree with you. I hope that all the nit pickers out there will think seriously about what you have said and get off their high horse. By the way, when I was a kid at school in England, we used to have to go to see "Nitty Norah, the bug explorer" every few weeks, as nits were a common problem back then amongst school children. Nobody liked her and if she found some of the little bug......, hmmm, offenders, she would send him or her home with a letter stating what needed to be done. I had hoped that nit pickers was a thing of the past, but alas, not so.

    Thanks for giving me a chuckle today.

  3. I'm here from your mom's page, and you're exactly right. I mainly only do cards, and thankfully I've not had any bad comments. I follow suit and think of the old adage: "if you can't say something nice about someone or something, you shouldn't say anything at all." Your photography is AWESOME! WOW! I look forward to a time in the near future that I too, will be able to produce such art. dj1952