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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> How to be honest without being rude.
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04/06/2011 08:33:32 PM · #1
Inspired by :How do they do this? thread.

Some people have tact when offering their photographic critiques. You may not agree with what was said, but you take it into consideration (sometimes), and move on.

Some users seem hellbent on expressing their opinions as bluntly and rudely as possible, (examples) and think that this is okay, because they're just being "honest."

So how can you say that you dislike a photograph --honestly-- without coming across like an asshole?

add some advice, use examples if you wish, and I'll add to the list as it comes.

------
[list]

1) Be specific.
saying "it's ugly" doesn't help. Saying "I don't like the expression the troll is making" is a lot more useful.

2) If you're going to say something negative, think about what it is you do like about an image
"I really don't care for how out of focus the foreground is, but I like how you lead the user's eye around the image"

3) The sandwich technique
One technique that many teachers and coaches swear to and works quite well for photography is the Sandwich technique. Say something nice, say the negative thing you were wanting to say, say something nice again. This takes the sting out of the negative and shows the receiver that not everything they did was terrible.

Example:
Wow, what an interesting subject matter. I think that this image is way too underexposed and blurry. It also doesn't show much planning, and appears more like a snapshot. That being said, this fits the challenge description perfectly. I also like the deep shades of red.

4) The use of words that suggest this is your opinion.
"I feel..." "it seems to me that..." these can soften a critique and make it a welcome explanation of why your image is tanking. When the aspect I don't care for is a subjective thing, I will often qualify the critique as "personal preference, not really a flaw".

5) State what you would have done different
state what you like or dislike, and follow with something like "this image would have really blown me away if you had . . ." or "I would have given this image an extra point or two if . . ."

6) Use Context sensative words
Words like "ugly" and "crafts" have different meanings to every user. It's useful to use words that actually mean something in context, like "poor composition", and "unfortunate choices". They work really well, and in conversations with adults, their intended effect -- to show how a particular photo makes one viewer feel -- is successful virtually every time.

Message edited by author 2011-04-06 22:43:20.
04/06/2011 08:39:38 PM · #2
hmmm I'm always polite.. hehe (NOT) but I say what I feel - good, bad or ugly. You could always ask ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' smardaz. : )
04/06/2011 08:43:13 PM · #3
Oh boy. I don't think calling someone out like this is helping matters and can be construed as quite rude as well. I would edit out that part of your post.

That being said, I think the rest of the thread is a valid question.
One technique that many teachers and coaches swear to and works quite well for photography is the Sandwich technique. Say something nice, say the negative thing you were wanting to say, say something nice again. This takes the sting out of the negative and shows the receiver that not everything they did was terrible.

Example:
Wow, what an interesting subject matter. I think that this image is way too underexposed and blurry. It also doesn't show much planning, and appears more like a snapshot. That being said, this fits the challenge description perfectly. I also like the deep shades of red.

^I pretty much said very little positive, and yet it doesn't come off too strong.
04/06/2011 08:46:12 PM · #4
The use of words that suggest this is your opinion. "I feel..." "it seems to me that..." these can soften a critique and make it a welcome explanation of why your image is tanking. When the aspect I don't care for is a subjective thing, I will often qualify the critique as "personal preference, not really a flaw".

I also leave a LOT of comments about heavy JPEG compression ruining an otherwise good shot. A number of times now this has resulted in a member contacting me for further explanation and I have become friendly with a few others on DPC through this.

I think I have only once received an angry sounding response from someone after I left an honest explanation about why I found their entry mediocre. Reviewing the other comments post-challenge showed several other comments very similar to mine had been left.

Message edited by author 2011-04-06 20:47:06.
04/06/2011 08:54:28 PM · #5
I agree
i don't mind bad comments but i would like to see more explanations why a picture suck and what you don't like about it.
Constructive comments help everyone !
04/06/2011 08:54:36 PM · #6
Yes, I use the sandwich technique. If i do it right, no one even knows they've received a harsh message, but they do get the message. I highly recommend telling people what you like about an image. Then, tell them the harsh criticism while they're still psychologically elevated. Then, tell 'em again what they did right. It works every time.
04/06/2011 08:55:40 PM · #7
I usually preface a critique by telling the person to remember that its just my opinion, and that my opinion alone doesn't make the shot a bad photograph. I'll use one of my own shots as an example...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1164/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_854748.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1164/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_854748.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Comment: To me this image seems overprocessed. The HDR effect is to strong. Although the sky is very interesting, the pile of branches in the foreground is distracting. Lastly the horizon is tilted slightly. With some revision this could be a strong image, so best of luck and remember that this is just my opinion so take it for what its worth

Now in all fairness, I rarely leave critical comments, unless specifically requested to do so. When I leave them though, I try to use some tact and remember that the photographer chose that image because they have some emotional connection with it. I would never say something to the effect of "It sucks, or it's sh!t" I always try to give them something constructive without destroying their self confidence. Lastly, I treat them the way I want to be treated. Most of us are here to grow and improve; comments and critiques help us to do that. WIth that said, honesty is important, so I tell them the bad, and find whatever good I can throw in without sugar coating it.
04/06/2011 08:57:13 PM · #8
Originally posted by hahn23:

Yes, I use the sandwich technique. If i do it right, no one even knows they've received a harsh message, but they do get the message. I highly recommend telling people what you like about an image. Then, tell them the harsh criticism while they're still psychologically elevated. Then, tell 'em again what they did right. It works every time.


Wow... this is brilliant... perhaps I should revise my post, cause I'm going to go in this direction from now on :) I've had numerous comments like these and never felt that bad about them...
04/06/2011 09:14:18 PM · #9
I usually apologize :)

Actually, I do.

I usually start of with "I'm sorry, but in my opinion this..."

Sometimes I'll end with "this is just my opinion, feel free to ignore it."

I'm not doing it to stay out of trouble, I'm just doing it because I feel bad that there is something that I don't like. I go on the assumption that they're trying their best. Not everybody does, but most people really are trying. And a lot of people, myself included, get emotionally attached to their photos. So I don't particularly enjoy telling people that there are big problems with their photo.
04/06/2011 09:23:44 PM · #10
Whenever i dont like a photo and I do feel like leaving a comment, it always has IMO, I'm sorry but...

Also i try to find something positive out of their photo. Just because you dont like someting doesn't mean you have to be rude about it. But be honest as well, just not mean.
04/06/2011 09:26:05 PM · #11
Originally posted by ScooterMcNutty:

Whenever i dont like a photo and I do feel like leaving a comment, it always has IMO, I'm sorry but...

Also i try to find something positive out of their photo. Just because you dont like someting doesn't mean you have to be rude about it. But be honest as well, just not mean.


Yup. There's a difference between honesty and sarcasm.
04/06/2011 09:28:12 PM · #12
Originally posted by hahn23:

Yes, I use the sandwich technique. If i do it right, no one even knows they've received a harsh message, but they do get the message. I highly recommend telling people what you like about an image. Then, tell them the harsh criticism while they're still psychologically elevated. Then, tell 'em again what they did right. It works every time.


sorry... but you mean you hope no one knows... and you hope it works :) ...not that i don't applaud balanced comments.
-----
On the general topic, I'd also recommend reading this
04/06/2011 09:36:49 PM · #13
A lot of times I will say something positive, then I will follow with something like "this image would have really blown me away if you had . . ." or "I would have given this image an extra point or two if . . ." and state a polite critique about what isn't working for me. For me personally, I also preface many of my critiques with the statement that I don't have the technical skills that many of the other photographers on this site have, so my statements are just an opinion or emotional response. Hope this helps!
04/06/2011 09:39:45 PM · #14
I really never hold back when I comment on a photo I don't particularly like. I let 'em have it. However, I personally eschew words like "ugly" and "crafts", and prefer words that actually mean something in context, like "poor composition", and "unfortunate choices". They work really well, and in conversations with adults, their intended effect -- to show how a particular photo makes one viewer feel -- is successful virtually every time.

Also, when someone complains about a low score, or a lack of comments, I like to take the opportunity to offer a comment. The person sometimes learns something, and I can give an honest critique reasonably sure that its landing in the right spot.

I'm probably not the most mature person on the planet, but I empathize with the thankless workflow of my fellow mediocre photographers, and I'm happy to lend an opinion (as opposed to an unexpected kick in the nuts).
04/06/2011 09:53:41 PM · #15
Originally posted by vawendy:



I usually start of with "I'm sorry, but in my opinion this..."



To be honest, and I'm sorry, but comments that start with "I', sorry, but..." tend to irk me more than just coming out and saying what ya think with no apologies. Not you, but many people tend to preface some rather rude comments with the phrase, I'm sorry or no disrespect. I will say that I get those kinds of comments on other sites... Facebook... than on DPC, though.
04/06/2011 09:58:38 PM · #16
look at the" during challenge" comments from past years, and look at the ones from the last challenge.
to me, the commentators from 5-6years ago were more inclined to tell what they think and how they feel about the image. Some you could call rude, but there was more constructive information.

I always welcomed any comment, and I could care less if i get 1's, but would like to know why.
Pointing out things you dislike or may have done differently, in my opinion, is more helpful, and can give a different aspect or view.

as Yo_Spiff pointed out, most of people appreciate a different opinion and constructive criticism, but it seems that over the past few years, more and more only want the opinion that suits them....That is very difficult when any photo is interpreted differently by every person. I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude". I have always been under the impression that art is extremely subjective, and it is meant to be that way. What i consider even more surprising is when an "artist" gets upset that a viewer doesn't see beauty in the same piece of work as them, and then gets mad at the viewer. Or they get upset because someone was being impolite, and the hurt feelings brigades must come to the rescue. As if the opinion has some life changing affect on them, they won't be able to sleep at night, and won't be able to function for the rest of their life...come on. What's the saying? Opinions are like _ _ _ holes, we all have one.

I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.
04/06/2011 10:30:45 PM · #17
Originally posted by Basta:

I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude".
[..]
I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.

1. you missed completely the purpose of this thread - it is about DELIVERY, and not about whether or not anyone can make critical comments.
2. I am looking forward to Ben replying to this one although it is likely to be another "whatever"

oh, well, whatever :)
04/06/2011 10:53:45 PM · #18
Personally, I would never just write this picture sux, even if it did. It is a very rare picture where there is nothing worthwhile to find in the image. I do my best to be honest, but at the same time find something to appreciate.

I don't give false praise, but do think that hearing nothing but the things that are wrong, is more likely to cause a person to give up, than to really be the fastest way to improvement.

PS: I know Ben, or at least I do as well as you can know anyone whom you have never met. I don't really think that he needs me defending him, but he is one of the kindest most caring people I know. He has performed more acts of kindness and caring within this community, than most here will ever know. He is secure in his artistic views, but he is not one to lord his talent over others. He has put up with my mediocrity, and my opinions with nary a whimper. And never, ever a condescending word.

Message edited by author 2011-04-06 23:00:35.
04/06/2011 10:58:51 PM · #19
Originally posted by Basta:

look at the" during challenge" comments from past years, and look at the ones from the last challenge.
to me, the commentators from 5-6years ago were more inclined to tell what they think and how they feel about the image. Some you could call rude, but there was more constructive information.

I always welcomed any comment, and I could care less if i get 1's, but would like to know why.
Pointing out things you dislike or may have done differently, in my opinion, is more helpful, and can give a different aspect or view.

as Yo_Spiff pointed out, most of people appreciate a different opinion and constructive criticism, but it seems that over the past few years, more and more only want the opinion that suits them....That is very difficult when any photo is interpreted differently by every person. I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude". I have always been under the impression that art is extremely subjective, and it is meant to be that way. What i consider even more surprising is when an "artist" gets upset that a viewer doesn't see beauty in the same piece of work as them, and then gets mad at the viewer. Or they get upset because someone was being impolite, and the hurt feelings brigades must come to the rescue. As if the opinion has some life changing affect on them, they won't be able to sleep at night, and won't be able to function for the rest of their life...come on. What's the saying? Opinions are like _ _ _ holes, we all have one.

I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.


I think you are missing the point. The point is not about having a contrary opinion, or offering it, it is offering it in a way that is useful to the recipient, and not just a spleen-venting-release for the deliverer.

If someone says "Who cares? It's ugly!" that only lets the recipient know that the person thinks it is ugly. Never mind about tactless, rude, offended or not. It offers no constructive, useful information. So it only benefited the person who said it (for whatever reason they felt the need to say it).

If the INTENTION is to be helpful, constructive, offer insights, then the person is not accomplishing his/her intention. If the intention is solely to vent his/her own emotions, for their own satisfaction and "be entitled to their opinion", well that is fine, too. But it is a self-centered purpose, and they should not anticipate that their self-satisfying words will or even should be welcomed or given any value by others.

In one very recent instance, the same person who created an entire thread because of an "offense" received in comments by others on photo(s) is freely offering negative comments to others on a regular basis. Including "ugly". The Classic Dish It Out But Can't Take It situation.
04/06/2011 11:00:44 PM · #20
Originally posted by marnet:

Originally posted by Basta:

I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude".
[..]
I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.

1. you missed completely the purpose of this thread - it is about DELIVERY, and not about whether or not anyone can make critical comments.
2. I am looking forward to Ben replying to this one although it is likely to be another "whatever"

oh, well, whatever :)


here is a sandwich: I really appreciate your concern for the purpose of this thread, but I'm less interested in the wrapping paper and more about content...thank you for being an example of what i was talking about.
2. His "whatever had a meaning"...yours was kinda rude...see how that works.
04/06/2011 11:03:31 PM · #21
Originally posted by Basta:

I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude".
[..]
I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.


I don't think it's about critical opinions, I feel I tend to be quite the hard ass when it comes to pointing out what I feel would make an image more successful. This thread is about how to do it without it coming off as arrogant, rude, or unnecessarily mean.

for example, the user ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' KGeary has some comments that, although they meet his honest opinion, tend to be just plain Rude. Examples include:

Originally posted by KGeary:

"Try again." "get your own style!" "more wind filters? yuck." "wow, this is a post processing nightmare."


As opposed to critical, but more constructive feedback (thanks by the way ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' gattamarta!), this time from an image of my own.

Originally posted by gattamarta:

I gave this a 6, which in my scale means good but nothing special. The composition and dof are nice and work well to attract the attention to the food on the foreground, which is sharp, colorful and looks tasty. The lighting is good. There are no distraction nor flaws. But unfortunately there is nothing else... the subject is not interesting, there is no story, there is no extraordinary view on an ordinary object (like if the food was floating in the air or something else). Based on your two submissions so far, I think you have good technical skills and a creative and unconventional approach to photography that will bring you soon to very good results. Good luck!
04/06/2011 11:04:27 PM · #22
Originally posted by chromeydome:

Originally posted by Basta:

look at the" during challenge" comments from past years, and look at the ones from the last challenge.
to me, the commentators from 5-6years ago were more inclined to tell what they think and how they feel about the image. Some you could call rude, but there was more constructive information.

I always welcomed any comment, and I could care less if i get 1's, but would like to know why.
Pointing out things you dislike or may have done differently, in my opinion, is more helpful, and can give a different aspect or view.

as Yo_Spiff pointed out, most of people appreciate a different opinion and constructive criticism, but it seems that over the past few years, more and more only want the opinion that suits them....That is very difficult when any photo is interpreted differently by every person. I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude". I have always been under the impression that art is extremely subjective, and it is meant to be that way. What i consider even more surprising is when an "artist" gets upset that a viewer doesn't see beauty in the same piece of work as them, and then gets mad at the viewer. Or they get upset because someone was being impolite, and the hurt feelings brigades must come to the rescue. As if the opinion has some life changing affect on them, they won't be able to sleep at night, and won't be able to function for the rest of their life...come on. What's the saying? Opinions are like _ _ _ holes, we all have one.

I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.


I think you are missing the point. The point is not about having a contrary opinion, or offering it, it is offering it in a way that is useful to the recipient, and not just a spleen-venting-release for the deliverer.

If someone says "Who cares? It's ugly!" that only lets the recipient know that the person thinks it is ugly. Never mind about tactless, rude, offended or not. It offers no constructive, useful information. So it only benefited the person who said it (for whatever reason they felt the need to say it).

If the INTENTION is to be helpful, constructive, offer insights, then the person is not accomplishing his/her intention. If the intention is solely to vent his/her own emotions, for their own satisfaction and "be entitled to their opinion", well that is fine, too. But it is a self-centered purpose, and they should not anticipate that their self-satisfying words will or even should be welcomed or given any value by others.

In one very recent instance, the same person who created an entire thread because of an "offense" received in comments by others on photo(s) is freely offering negative comments to others on a regular basis. Including "ugly". The Classic Dish It Out But Can't Take It situation.


You make sense.
04/06/2011 11:06:51 PM · #23
Originally posted by jamesgoss:

Originally posted by Basta:

I find it ridiculous that if someone doesn't agree with the preferred opinion, then they are being "rude".
[..]
I don't know bspurgeon personally, but i truly appreciate his reaction when someone did not like his photo..."Whatever". That is a reaction I would expect from a true artist who appreciates his own work, and can accept a different opinion.


I don't think it's about critical opinions, I feel I tend to be quite the hard ass when it comes to pointing out what I feel would make an image more successful. This thread is about how to do it without it coming off as arrogant, rude, or unnecessarily mean.

for example, the user ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' KGeary has some comments that, although they meet his honest opinion, tend to be just plain Rude. Examples include:

Originally posted by KGeary:

"Try again." "get your own style!" "more wind filters? yuck." "wow, this is a post processing nightmare."


As opposed to critical, but more constructive feedback (thanks by the way ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' gattamarta!), this time from an image of my own.

Originally posted by gattamarta:

I gave this a 6, which in my scale means good but nothing special. The composition and dof are nice and work well to attract the attention to the food on the foreground, which is sharp, colorful and looks tasty. The lighting is good. There are no distraction nor flaws. But unfortunately there is nothing else... the subject is not interesting, there is no story, there is no extraordinary view on an ordinary object (like if the food was floating in the air or something else). Based on your two submissions so far, I think you have good technical skills and a creative and unconventional approach to photography that will bring you soon to very good results. Good luck!


I can see your point, but different people will express themselves in different ways.. If I ever receive comment like "Try again." "get your own style!" "more wind filters? yuck." "wow, this is a post processing nightmare." I would mark it as helpful and take a good look at my image.

Message edited by author 2011-04-06 23:18:38.
04/06/2011 11:13:28 PM · #24
Comments, good or bad, are always appreciated. So just for experiment, how would you respond if you get the following comment?

The commenter wants to say:
The composition sucks. Really.

But he used the I think I'm sorry method:
I think this photo doesn't work for me. The arrangement of the foreground objects is distracting and doesn't do justice to a rather lovely background. The POV ruins the shot. I'm sorry but the overall composition basically sucks. Really. But that's just my opinion.

or the Sandwich method:
I like the bright vibrant colors of your subject. They are a feast to the eye. But i would arrange them differently in a way that they don't distract but rather compliment with that lovely background. Your experimentation with POV shows creativity, but it did not work out well and may have actually ruined a good shot. As it is, the composition sucks. Really. Although i like how you captured the incredible details in the background.

---

Nah. I haven't given out a comment that long. And i wouldn't say "sucks", but just for example.
04/06/2011 11:28:50 PM · #25
Wait...so when I say to someone "Canon called....they want their camera back!" or "Nikon would like to inform you that their product is of better use for artistic photography rather than crime scene shots"....that's not being nice or helpful?

That's it! I want my money back for those political correctness courses I took on line! :P

Ok, I confess..I've NEVER....took those courses. ;P

Dave

Message edited by author 2011-04-06 23:29:35.
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