We had a spat the day before his grandfather died. He didn't do anything wrong, he just did something I didn't like and I had a right proper sulk about it at the time. Towards the end of the next day, during a moment of quiet, I apologized. He shushed me, tried to say it was all his fault, and when I called him on it, told me to shush because he was trying to make me feel better.  Even then, when everything's gone pear-shaped, he's still trying to make me feel better.

Fast forward a few days to last night, when a family member of mine (whose fucked up opinions still have the power to affect me negatively despite my knowledge of their fucked-upness) decided to go through most of my 365 photos thus far and systematically tell me:

A. why none of them were as good as they could have been,

B. how for several of the days, I'd taken a better shot (more accurately:  a less bad shot) than the one I'd chosen to upload and that I should've chosen better, and

C. how I was a cold and unfeeling person for uploading a shot that my father happens to be standing in. Not a shot of my father, but a shot where he walked into the frame when I only had time for one take. I knew he wouldn't mind, and in light of this family member's sanctimonious bitching concern, I showed him the photo today and he shrugged and said "You can't see my face anyway, so who cares?"  (Later, I mentioned this to said family member and she proceeded to say lots of charming things like "but you can see his shape *here she makes a hand gesture indicating fatness* and his saggy old man clothes!" Yeah. And she thinks I'm being mean to him by uploading a photo where he's standing 40 feet away from the camera? I dun think so.

But anyway, the conclusions were that  I'm a bad person. And I have no eye for composition, and know nothing about art and have no artistic vision or imagination. And the few details she did like in my photos? She compliments the greatness of my camera. Pointing out that she couldn't get those results with my camera only got me a huffy reply that it's clearly the camera + knowing how to operate the controls that's the key to getting photos equal to or better than mine.

It was rough. Really rough. And frustrating because, even though I know she has pretty crap knowledge/taste in photographs, I still feel raked over the coals when I want so desperately just to not care.  After she left I stared at my 365 like it was a tainted thing. It felt defiled. I felt defiled. The joy of the project was, at least at that moment, completely gone.

About 5 minutes after that, Oisin gets home (7:45am his time) after 4 hours of travel, and immediately logs onto skype. Without me saying a word other than a somewhat glum "hi," he's already checking flickr to see what photo I'd uploaded for the previous day. It'd been the last photo to be dissected for its flaws (and they were legion) less than 10 minutes earlier.

 [012/365] Crunchy Ice Coating with Chilled Leaf Filling

With him, if he doesn't like something, he'll let me know clearly and pretty quickly. But he immediately starts telling me how interesting it is, and how much he likes it, and I can hear the truth of it in his voice.

After a couple minutes' conversation, I tell him about what had just happened, and -even though he'd been up since 3am, even though he'd traveled several hours, even though he'd just come home from a funeral-  he decided that right that moment was a fine time to go through every single photo I'd uploaded and give me proper, in depth feedback on each one. And in the process he he reclaimed my project for me, purged it of all the negativity and harsh criticism, unfair attacks, and resentment that'd been heaped upon it.

No, he doesn't love every photo I take, but neither do I. And when I love a photo he doesn't, he marks it down to different taste, not to my inferiority as an individual or as an "artist". And I didn't choose her, but I get to chose him. And I choose him again every day.

And I am very, very lucky.