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02/05/2012 02:40:15 AM · #1
A quote from writer Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He was referring to literary criticism, but I think the same is true of photographic criticism. Ultimately, a comment of "This doesn't work for me" is of more practical use to you than another comment detailing all of the many ways the commenter would have made the photograph better.

Unless, of course, you wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs.
02/05/2012 03:07:42 AM · #2
Originally posted by ubique:

A quote from writer Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He was referring to literary criticism, but I think the same is true of photographic criticism. Ultimately, a comment of "This doesn't work for me" is of more practical use to you than another comment detailing all of the many ways the commenter would have made the photograph better.

Unless, of course, you wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs.


That's only true if you do not believe in the objective existence of beauty. If you do not believe that there is a formula to creating appealing pictures. I believe that there is theory to photography just as with everything else, aesthetics is dependent on the same rules that most artists consciously or unconsciously apply in their work such as the principles of art, which are movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern. Being familiar with these and how to apply them correctly in photography will definitely benefit anyone.

So if someone can use knowledge to create beauty then someone can be critical of a piece and share that knowledge in order to help someone else increase the beauty of their pieces. The creative process is still a personal experience but the artist can then know how to apply the rules and theories related to aesthetics correctly.
02/05/2012 03:12:41 AM · #3
Originally posted by ubique:

A quote from writer Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He was referring to literary criticism, but I think the same is true of photographic criticism. Ultimately, a comment of "This doesn't work for me" is of more practical use to you than another comment detailing all of the many ways the commenter would have made the photograph better.

Unless, of course, you wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs.

sometimes people do wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs. They view photography as craftsmanship as opposed to art. Here is a supporting example:

Originally posted by MarioPierre:

That's only true if you do not believe in the objective existence of beauty. If you do not believe that there is a formula to creating appealing pictures. I believe that there is theory to photography just as with everything else, aesthetics is dependent on the same rules that most artists consciously or unconsciously apply in their work such as the principles of art, which are movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern. Being familiar with these and how to apply them correctly in photography will definitely benefit anyone.

So if someone can use knowledge to create beauty then someone can be critical of a piece and share that knowledge in order to help someone else increase the beauty of their pieces. The creative process is still a personal experience but the artist can then know how to apply the rules and theories related to aesthetics correctly.

02/05/2012 03:57:44 AM · #4
Originally posted by mitalapo:

Originally posted by ubique:

A quote from writer Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He was referring to literary criticism, but I think the same is true of photographic criticism. Ultimately, a comment of "This doesn't work for me" is of more practical use to you than another comment detailing all of the many ways the commenter would have made the photograph better.

Unless, of course, you wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs.

sometimes people do wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs. They view photography as craftsmanship as opposed to art. Here is a supporting example:

Originally posted by MarioPierre:

That's only true if you do not believe in the objective existence of beauty. If you do not believe that there is a formula to creating appealing pictures. I believe that there is theory to photography just as with everything else, aesthetics is dependent on the same rules that most artists consciously or unconsciously apply in their work such as the principles of art, which are movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern. Being familiar with these and how to apply them correctly in photography will definitely benefit anyone.

So if someone can use knowledge to create beauty then someone can be critical of a piece and share that knowledge in order to help someone else increase the beauty of their pieces. The creative process is still a personal experience but the artist can then know how to apply the rules and theories related to aesthetics correctly.


There are also two types of shots which I take, the ones that are shot on the fly without much thought process involved prior to looking into the viewfinder, then there are the shots which I conceptualize way before the shot. Sometimes I'll even draw these out on paper before heading to the studio. Most of the work for the later example consists of conceptualization, which requires tons of knowledge. I certainly give more artistic merit to those who work in this manner.

I also do the same when it comes to painting and songwriting. It begins with an idea, then a rough sketch and finally the production.
02/05/2012 06:37:18 AM · #5
first off, I believe anything Neil Gaiman says. He knows his own self, and his art, fantastically.

Secondly, There is much truth to your application of this statement to our own photo comments. Even if the perceived goal of the site is to "get better" it is certainly better, in my opinion, to give someone the "impression" of their work, how it strikes you as if it was hanging in a MOMA gallery and you are discussing it with friends at a restaurant later.

I have always found that there is not much use in "trying to be helpful" by saying you should go re-shoot the shot a different way. In that sense, the most helpful comment may be the first impression.
02/05/2012 06:41:22 AM · #6
Originally posted by blindjustice:

first off, I believe anything Neil Gaiman says.


Wow.. hehe.

But let me get this straight, he's saying that people shouldn't tell people how to do things right but this thread is about the right way to give criticism based on his quote?
02/05/2012 06:52:03 AM · #7
Originally posted by MarioPierre:

Originally posted by blindjustice:

first off, I believe anything Neil Gaiman says.


Wow.. hehe.

But let me get this straight, he's saying that people shouldn't tell people how to do things right but this thread is about the right way to give criticism based on his quote?


I am not going to speak for Paul, ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Ubique, as he can certainly articulate things better than I can.

I just think the general viewer/commenter shouldn't look to comment on every single photo as if he/she is paid consulting fees on how to make the photo "better." Ihave been embarrassed at times by leaving comments saying- "this should be more in focus" etc... later to see who the photog is, 9 times out of ten a vastly superior artist to me, utilizing techniques for which I had yet to comprehend. just an example.

anyway, here is a phenomenal shot, scored poorly on the perception of bad focus, read the comments.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
02/05/2012 07:10:22 AM · #8
I agree that for many works of art I either appreciate it or I don't. No amount of criticism is going to change it to the point of liking it, and if it does, it becomes someone else’s work, as you said. I also think that many specific critical comments actually point out the very thing that I love about the photo. "You didn't follow the rule of thirds...there's no details in the highlights and shadows...use a tripod to get a sharper focus etc..." Getting a comment like that lets me know that that viewer totally missed what I'm trying to express which ultimately boils down to "This doesn't work for me". However, I think there are comments that may point out something minor that I really wasn't aware of because I'm so connected with my own photo. Those criticisms allow me to create another revision that is still mine or simply to be aware of something for future work.
02/05/2012 07:31:08 AM · #9
Originally posted by blindjustice:


anyway, here is a phenomenal shot, scored poorly on the perception of bad focus, read the comments.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Wow, this ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', '/') + 1) . ' nick_hinch guy is seriously good. How'd he slip under my radar? Anyway, into my DPC favourite photographers file he goes.

02/05/2012 08:46:21 AM · #10
I embarked on the madness that is trying to get published in professional short fiction about two years ago, and I'm still working on it. The biggest contributor to advancing my skills was not receiving critiques, but giving them. I've observed in myself and others, that as they progress, they stop giving detailed critique about how to fix things in stories, and instead gave 'bigger picture' feedback like 'this story doesn't work for me because I can't relate to the protagonist's motivation'. I'll agree that this sort of feedback is more helpful.

Still, if one requests a critique on their work, it is commonly held etiquette in the writing world that if you don't agree with someones criticism, you just politely thank them for their comments and ignore it (I usually tell people, when I critique their writing, to "take what resonates and discard the rest"). Most often, the real value of a critique isn't what the person says, but the underlying reason that led them to say it. And in writing, if many people critique a story and make the same comment, it is incumbent on the author to really consider if that particular criticism points to a real flaw in their work. I personally feel that "they just don't get it" is a defensive mechanism that is best avoided.

I don't know if any of this holds true in a visual medium like photography. The one thing I can say is I must have a lot of progress to make in critiquing photography, because I look at the photo in question in this thread, and I don't see why it is remarkable. I wouldn't mind if someone told me why they thought it was. :)

Message edited by author 2012-02-05 08:53:30.
02/05/2012 09:07:45 AM · #11
I don't really put much faith in the "objective beauty" idea...same as "universal truths". Sure, we have certain commonalities of physiology that contribute to the legitimacy of the rule of thirds and such. But, physiological differences aside, environmental factors (experience) also play a role, and these provide us with different perspectives. Perspective is context, and context generates meaning, right?

"I think I'd like this better if the girl wasn't blurred" is so much different than "It would be a better photograph if the girl wasn't blurred"

When something is beautiful, you can't fully explain why you think so. Isn't that true?
02/05/2012 09:08:20 AM · #12
Originally posted by Osiris1975:


The one thing I can say is I must have a lot of progress to make in critiquing photography, because I look at the photo in question in this thread, and I don't see why it is remarkable. I wouldn't mind if someone told me why they thought it was. :)


+1. Seriously do not understand it.
02/05/2012 09:12:16 AM · #13
One more thing...I find that critiquing a photo has a lot to do with analyzing that first reaction you had to it. Noticing where your eye is drawn and evaluating your emotional reaction...
02/05/2012 09:17:34 AM · #14
Originally posted by clive_patric_nolan:

Originally posted by blindjustice:


anyway, here is a phenomenal shot, scored poorly on the perception of bad focus, read the comments.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Wow, this ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', '/') + 1) . ' nick_hinch guy is seriously good. How'd he slip under my radar? Anyway, into my DPC favourite photographers file he goes.


I read the comments on this photo. The people who didn't like it were very clear as to why. The people who did like it are very unclear as to why. One mentions a story told. Think it may be easier to wrap around what you don't like than what you like, maybe because the ultimate value of a photo is its emotive power, something hard to explain in words.
02/05/2012 09:24:45 AM · #15
Originally posted by blindjustice:

Originally posted by MarioPierre:

Originally posted by blindjustice:

first off, I believe anything Neil Gaiman says.


Wow.. hehe.

But let me get this straight, he's saying that people shouldn't tell people how to do things right but this thread is about the right way to give criticism based on his quote?


I am not going to speak for Paul, ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Ubique, as he can certainly articulate things better than I can.

I just think the general viewer/commenter shouldn't look to comment on every single photo as if he/she is paid consulting fees on how to make the photo "better." Ihave been embarrassed at times by leaving comments saying- "this should be more in focus" etc... later to see who the photog is, 9 times out of ten a vastly superior artist to me, utilizing techniques for which I had yet to comprehend. just an example.

anyway, here is a phenomenal shot, scored poorly on the perception of bad focus, read the comments.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1488/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985974.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


I don't think you have to be a great artist to be able to give potent critiques. I kind of get the vibe that what people are saying is that studying art is pointless because knowledge don't matter.

Let's compare photography to music; everyone has the ability to write a song but not everyone has the ability to write a good song. I know plenty of songwriters that claim to write abstract and progressive music but that's only because they have no idea of what they are doing; on the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of highly talented musician that play noise which most people couldn't even listen too or even come close to understand. An amateur couldn't tell the difference but a trained ear and a knowledgeable person can definitely tell the difference.

This knowledge can be either inherit or taught.

But when it comes to music, it's while teaching that I evolve the most. It's by rediscovering the same principles that I become better at using them. But I'm not telling people to "follow the rules" but rather that by adhering to certain rules they can create certain moods which allows them to express themselves with ease. Sometimes, breaking the rules is what is the most important part, Jazz music is all about breaking out of the mold.

This example can be used with any form of art.
02/05/2012 09:28:34 AM · #16
Originally posted by ubique:

A quote from writer Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He was referring to literary criticism, but I think the same is true of photographic criticism. Ultimately, a comment of "This doesn't work for me" is of more practical use to you than another comment detailing all of the many ways the commenter would have made the photograph better.

Unless, of course, you wish to learn how to take someone else's photographs.


I agree, and it's always curious to hear judges say "Maybe you could have moved to the left a few feet", or "I would have used a different focal length". Like that kind of critique helps now that I'm not where I was taking the picture.

One thing that I find weird is that some people will make up this whole backstory to pictures that is nothing like what is going on in the picture, then critique on that story.
02/05/2012 09:36:09 AM · #17
Originally posted by 4trtone:

I agree that for many works of art I either appreciate it or I don't. No amount of criticism is going to change it to the point of liking it, and if it does, it becomes someone else’s work, as you said. I also think that many specific critical comments actually point out the very thing that I love about the photo. "You didn't follow the rule of thirds...there's no details in the highlights and shadows...use a tripod to get a sharper focus etc..." Getting a comment like that lets me know that that viewer totally missed what I'm trying to express which ultimately boils down to "This doesn't work for me". However, I think there are comments that may point out something minor that I really wasn't aware of because I'm so connected with my own photo. Those criticisms allow me to create another revision that is still mine or simply to be aware of something for future work.


In the case of movies and TV, I've found that with good critique and analysis, it can change how I look at the pieces. Sometimes there is something deeper, or layered that you may miss on first viewing. Sometimes you look for different things if you know to look for them.

It also depends on how you feel about the person doing the critique. I've seen judges who I didn't think could critique their way out of a paper bag, and others who's critique was really helpful.
02/05/2012 09:41:46 AM · #18
The thing I most dislike in a critique is, I don't like it or it doesn’t work for me. I want to hear why they don't like it. When I give constructive critique, I state why.
For instance on this photo my critique would be: In my eye the little girl in the forground looks out of focus, that type of photography bothers my eyes and doesn’t allow me to look around the entire photo. Just my humble opinion.

I totaly aggree not all art forms are pleasant to everyone, but I for one want to know why something bothers somone else.
02/05/2012 09:57:14 AM · #19
Originally posted by MarioPierre:

That's only true if you do not believe in the objective existence of beauty. If you do not believe that there is a formula to creating appealing pictures. I believe that there is theory to photography just as with everything else, aesthetics is dependent on the same rules that most artists consciously or unconsciously apply in their work such as the principles of art, which are movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern. Being familiar with these and how to apply them correctly in photography will definitely benefit anyone.

So if someone can use knowledge to create beauty then someone can be critical of a piece and share that knowledge in order to help someone else increase the beauty of their pieces. The creative process is still a personal experience but the artist can then know how to apply the rules and theories related to aesthetics correctly.

I don't believe in the objective existence of beauty......

There are commonalities in many subjects that appeal on basic levels, and yes, the rules of composition & lighting apply, but that doesn't necessarily create the objective existence of beauty.

Beauty is subjective. You can take a photograph that is technically correct.......it is not beautiful unless it is to the viewer.

I am also fully in the camp that wants feelings and impressions from the viewer.......don't tell me how to "fix" my image.......it's exactly the way I wanted it when I showed it to you.


02/05/2012 10:21:58 AM · #20
Originally posted by littlemav:

The thing I most dislike in a critique is, I don't like it or it doesn’t work for me. I want to hear why they don't like it. When I give constructive critique, I state why.
For instance on this photo my critique would be: In my eye the little girl in the forground looks out of focus, that type of photography bothers my eyes and doesn’t allow me to look around the entire photo. Just my humble opinion.

That's a perfect example of why I'm okay with just the stating of feelings/impressions. Sometimes I can't define why something doesn't appeal to me.....it just doesn't.

Originally posted by littlemav:

I totaly aggree not all art forms are pleasant to everyone, but I for one want to know why something bothers somone else.

There again.....it's a personal preference thing. I just had an image critiqued after a competition by a judge with a degree and three decades of professional experience. He told me that my image was well composed and that the exposure was good......but he didn't like the way I had dodged the area around the subject. I hadn't.......the beauty of the image for me was the way that the light made the image look as if it had a glow/halo type of effect. I have found through entering competitions at my local camera club that often the judges make assumptions, and come to conclusions based solely on their perceptions. Ultimately, even professionals with education and experience can allow their impressions to come to an incorrect conclusion. Had he lo0oked at the image without deciding I had dodged it, he may have seen something entirely different. The image still may not have worked for him.......but at least he wouldn't have invalidated his own critique by a glaring error.
02/05/2012 10:27:23 AM · #21
Lete me tell you about a experience I had: I have been a professional horse trainer most of my life, the kind that feeds her kids by training. I know almost everything there is to know about horses but always keeping an ear open .... One year I had a owner who "showed his horses in western pleasure" Now this guy couldn't ride a thirsty duck to water, and he was always telling me what to do and how to do it, Even though he was paying me to train his ponies!

I'm 5ft squat AND always have problems mounting a horse proper with out getting my toes into their sides and makeing them move. Well ol' Jack is kinda pudgey and SHORT... He showed me how to mount a horse being short w/o sticking toes into their sides. So simple yet all my life I was missing that!! Long story short... You can LEARN from ANYONE, even some one who don't know squat...Maybe they acutally do know that squat you've been missing!!!!

Do I want to shoot like Posthumous, not really ... do I want to hear what Don had to say about my work... YOU BET
02/05/2012 10:29:48 AM · #22
Originally posted by alohadave:

...it's always curious to hear judges say "Maybe you could have moved to the left a few feet"...Like that kind of critique helps now that I'm not where I was taking the picture.


Actually, that particular little snippet references one of the areas where I think critique of the "how to" variety is very helpful, and here's why:

In photography we have a tendency to only "see" our subject as we are composing our images, and are often surprised, usually unpleasantly, by unfortunate subject/ground juxtapositions when we view the image later. One thing that CAN be taught, and NEEDS to be taught, is that photographers have to be constantly aware of the spatial relationships of things within their frame when they are shooting.

I can't tell you how many times I've realized, after the fact, I'd have been a lot better off moving s few feet to the left :-) I'm happy enough when people point that out to me, it keeps me on my toes.

Of course, this is all a bit of a digression...

R.
02/05/2012 10:33:45 AM · #23
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Originally posted by MarioPierre:

That's only true if you do not believe in the objective existence of beauty. If you do not believe that there is a formula to creating appealing pictures. I believe that there is theory to photography just as with everything else, aesthetics is dependent on the same rules that most artists consciously or unconsciously apply in their work such as the principles of art, which are movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern. Being familiar with these and how to apply them correctly in photography will definitely benefit anyone.

So if someone can use knowledge to create beauty then someone can be critical of a piece and share that knowledge in order to help someone else increase the beauty of their pieces. The creative process is still a personal experience but the artist can then know how to apply the rules and theories related to aesthetics correctly.

I don't believe in the objective existence of beauty......

There are commonalities in many subjects that appeal on basic levels, and yes, the rules of composition & lighting apply, but that doesn't necessarily create the objective existence of beauty.

Beauty is subjective. You can take a photograph that is technically correct.......it is not beautiful unless it is to the viewer.

I am also fully in the camp that wants feelings and impressions from the viewer.......don't tell me how to "fix" my image.......it's exactly the way I wanted it when I showed it to you.


There's no way to prove or disprove anything that falls under theories of aesthetics, there are only your beliefs; nothing is definite.

I find that photography is the laziest form of art because all someone has to do is to point their camera, shoot something, then hang it on a wall and call it art. I find it truly sad how people cheapen this artistic medium which was once considered one of the purest and most virtuous forms of art. I suppose someone could pick up a brush, paint a scene, claim that's exactly how they wanted it, hang it up on a wall and call it art but such a lie would be a little harder to sell unless they were actually good at what they did; same cannot be said for photography.

Message edited by author 2012-02-05 10:36:09.
02/05/2012 10:39:26 AM · #24
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Originally posted by littlemav:

The thing I most dislike in a critique is, I don't like it or it doesn’t work for me. I want to hear why they don't like it. When I give constructive critique, I state why.
For instance on this photo my critique would be: In my eye the little girl in the forground looks out of focus, that type of photography bothers my eyes and doesn’t allow me to look around the entire photo. Just my humble opinion.

That's a perfect example of why I'm okay with just the stating of feelings/impressions. Sometimes I can't define why something doesn't appeal to me.....it just doesn't.

Originally posted by littlemav:

I totaly aggree not all art forms are pleasant to everyone, but I for one want to know why something bothers somone else.

There again.....it's a personal preference thing. I just had an image critiqued after a competition by a judge with a degree and three decades of professional experience. He told me that my image was well composed and that the exposure was good......but he didn't like the way I had dodged the area around the subject. I hadn't.......the beauty of the image for me was the way that the light made the image look as if it had a glow/halo type of effect. I have found through entering competitions at my local camera club that often the judges make assumptions, and come to conclusions based solely on their perceptions. Ultimately, even professionals with education and experience can allow their impressions to come to an incorrect conclusion. Had he lo0oked at the image without deciding I had dodged it, he may have seen something entirely different. The image still may not have worked for him.......but at least he wouldn't have invalidated his own critique by a glaring error.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Humm I really didn't state, love to get others point of view, do I Always use it, nope but I listen and look. And Yes I sooo understand what you said about the dodge thing, People are limited to what they know and understand as far as giving opinions, I watched one night as a pro-photographer and judge took apart a ladys photo ( which was the best in a contest) and in no way did his crituqe even get near what she had done. You could hear the groans thru-out the building. Then the other two judges gave her darn near perfect scores. So she let the first one roll off her shoulder.. But if your secure with your work (or even unsecure) I'd still like to hear what one person dosen't like about a photo.

I feel in the rank of newer shooters the words I don't like your photo could hit harsher than the reason why I don't like your photo is....
02/05/2012 10:45:27 AM · #25
...and of course, after reading this I fully realize why I quit making any comments whatsoever. I had been told by many that my opinions really did not matter one iota...so why bother.

Ray

Message edited by author 2012-02-05 10:54:30.
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