Show Me What You Like, But Also What You Don’t Like

At many restaurants, after asking about how some menu item is and the waiter or waitress replied, “Really good,” and then when I asked about a different dish and again they repeated the same answer–in fact multiple times for every item I asked about–I’ve said, “Tell me what’s not good or that you don’t recommend.” I appreciate their honest opinion and everything can’t be equally ‘really good’.

You need cold to know what warm is. You need dark to know what light is. We live in a world of varying degrees of things.

So, I was flipping through the web like we do and found a link to a story about John Mulaney’s ex-wife Anna Marie Tendler who I remember seeing in an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (the one where Mulaney brings home a rug, and she immediately doesn’t like it.) And as I went through looking at the photographs, I realized I didn’t much like them.

This is a story in a major, legendary fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar. See the story for yourself and check out the photos, and tell me what you think. For me, I feel like Larry David, my response to them is, “Eh.” Not terribly impressed.

These photos don’t feel well thought out.

The photos are by a New York photographer who’s represented by Maanifest Agency named Lorenz Schmidl. I always want to like photographers’ work. I love great photography and I expect the best from the top publications.

But these photos just feel amateurish. Sloppy. Tilted horizons for no reason. Boring front direct flash. I didn’t even like the posing. Tendler’s a pretty young woman and she just looks unattractive (to me). Sulking or with a scowl.

Years ago, I posted some of my Street Photography as a video set to music on YouTube and got plenty of positive responses, though the one I most remember is from the one who dissented. Who wasn’t impressed. A person named Lachsimzwaiel who wrote, “You have no talent and these photos are terrible,” or something to that effect. (I see he’s since deleted the comment.)

Okay, tell me how you really feel.

I ended up responding to his comment, “No offense taken, Lachsimzwaifel, no art is for everyone. The Shawshank Redemption, a really good movie, only gets a 9 out of 10 on IMDb, so one in ten doesn’t like it. Casablanca gets 8/10. It’s all good. If we all liked the same things, it’d be a boring world. What matters most is that I like them. Hope you find a gallery you enjoy.”

I wrote that because you can’t please everyone. Just like Lorenz’s photographs didn’t agree with what I like to see. That doesn’t mean that others didn’t like his photos. That doesn’t mean I’m right. (Though I am for me.)

But now you know what I like more clearly because you know I don’t just like everything. You know there are some ‘dishes’ that I recommend more than others. That there are degrees of quality to the work I appreciate and that you can gauge my response knowing more about me.

Another time when I was dining out, I asked the waitress about the soup. She made a cutting motion with her hand under her throat, indicating, ‘You don’t want to get that’. I very much appreciated that gesture. I didn’t get the soup.

This photo doesn’t work for me, it’s blurry and hurts my eyes. But it obviously worked for the Harper’s Bazaar photo editor. Or the trend is photos that look unprofessional. Or something.

If we all liked the same things, it’d be a boring world. Show me what you like but also what you don’t like, and I’ll learn a lot about your taste in photography and how you see the world. Your tastes are dictated by the things you’ve seen and experienced, the places and work you’ve seen.

It’s all good information.

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