And more importantly, what is your opinion of my opinion of your opinion?
Before this degenerates into a flame war between me and myself, let me hasten to add that I never pay any attention to either of us. I have read my stuff and most of it is just foolishness. If it were not for my good looks, I wouldn’t even associate with me…
Okay. Now that we have cleared that up, let’s get to the question of opinions in photographic matters.
a. In retail sales, the only opinion that matters lives in a wallet. People express their approval with cash or credit cards and when they do they can be sure that the retailer fully agrees with them. It is one of the easiest ways in the world to produce love and affection.
b. In camera clubs the opinion of the judge is final. It may be biased, foolish, drunken, or desultory, but if there is any discipline at all in the Competitions Committee, they will not permit the members to openly argue with the judge. After the judge leaves, his or her character can be torn apart and spit upon, but while they are there the prestige of the club is at stake.
c. In larger photographic organisations – the ones that can afford to be known by acronyms and demand large fees from prospective members – a good opinion is a matter of hard work, professionalism, and the ability to make friends with the right people. In this respect it is no different from normal politics, with the exception that photographic associations are exempt from the no-kill law that hinders politicians.
d. In schools and training establishments opinion cannot be purchased, but it can be courted. Also occasionally pandered and sucked up for. Of course, it can be altered at a whim, as persons and factions change – it is as well to have a range of art/science/treachery at one’s finger tips in case the staff change between one academic year and the next.
The opinion of permanent staff is sometimes neglected, but never to the advantage of the candidate. You may not think that the accountant or the senior cleaner will have any effect on your brilliant career, but you would be surprised how often they do.
e. Family opinion can be taken for granted. You are guilty until proven innocent, and then the mechanism is reset and you are guilty again. Test this out. Butter the cat and see what happens.
Few people are ever elevated to heaven by good public opinion or damned to hell by bad. The powers that control those destinations have their own standards and are not generally going to take anyone else’s into consideration. Public opinion has fewer insights into real behaviour and those insights are generally just publicity or advertisement. If it can be relied upon for anything, it should be restricted to simple things; the flavour of cough syrup or the colour of a new car. Anything else is just blind groping.