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07/17/2012 03:12:22 PM · #1
If you would like a short summary of the following, here it is:
Our judgement of and comments upon your photograph does not constitute a judgement of you, your person, your character, your photography skills, your editing skills, or anything else related to you... It is the opinion of an individual, about the photograph, and it should be taken as such, no matter how insulting, rude, blunt, or traumatically worded it may be. We make comments in the hope that it will help people to become a better photographers, and hope that you can accept this, and understand the true value of these sometimes harsh words and judgement.

To: All DPChallenge voters and challenge participants
From: Cory Boehne
Date: July 17th 2012

Hello,

I am a DPC voter, commenter and challenge participant. This thread is, much like my vote and comments, just my opinion - feel free to disagree, but please, I would appreciate it if you would try to really think about this and examine your own philosophy on this subject.

The main purpose of DPC is to create better photographers, and we have three major ways of doing so:
Forums: These are full of wonderful people who want to help you and talk about photography.
Tutorials: Usually written by one of the above mentioned persons in exchange for a month's worth of free membership and the knowledge that they have contributed to a great site.
Challenges: This is the major function for which DPChallenge is named, that of a photo contest, the general philosophy of which is centered around the winning of virtual ribbons which represent popular appeal due to the use of excellent imagery, imagination and execution, all while keeping well within the relevant challenge topic. While we have a WONDERFUL community of people who are here to help you through sharing their knowledge and experience, we live in the forums, not in the challenges. If you would like to receive positive feedback about an image, post a thread and ask for exactly that - you'll get plenty.

If, however, you have entered a challenge here, then please be prepared to have your image judged. This is not a judgement of you, your worth, or your work in general - it is an evaluation of how well this particular image works for this particular challenge, for this particular voter, on this particular day.

I honestly shouldn't even need to post this thread - you should know that you're going to be judged before you enter, you should know that anyone who comments or votes is only giving you their opinion of the work and telling you how it affected them - you should be thankful they care enough to say anything at all about your image.

I strive to give an honest and open opinion that is not sugarcoated or watered down, hedging wastes time and usually ensures that the point being made is missed or at least glossed over to some degree, and I neither have the time to do this, nor the desire. Having said that, I do recognize that this may be your best attempt, I realize that you may be 12 years old, I realize that your cat may have died yesterday, but none of that matters in the context of voting and commenting - the images are what they are regardless of who created them.

We as a community have, I'm afraid, gotten somewhat into the PC mindset around here, such that if the image we are judging doesn't convey the message it should, or if we don't like it, then we are almost expected to just assume that we there is something wrong with us or our perceptions, then vote a 6 and move on - giving the benefit of the doubt to the submitter in all cases. NO MORE! Please, we as DPC'ers need to stop this behavior and start being less afraid to be honest and open, sure it'll cause some friction and a few hurt feelings, but I care far more that we develop as a community of photographers. There is nothing wrong with me, or my perceptions, they are my own and they are the only tools I have to judge your image. I cannot tell who I am talking to, and cannot attempt to suit everyone's particular needs as that is impossible and leads to some of us doing no voting, and no commenting.

I think that we as a community must begin to recognize that if someone doesn't get the image or like it, then that means, for them, and for that challenge, that there is something wrong with the image, and they should vote and comment accordingly. If you can not handle giving honest feedback, then I would ask you to consider the effect you have - the sugarcoated ohh's and ahhs don't help anyone to become better, it's a bit like feeding a morbidly obese person - sure it's easy to do and makes them happy, but in the end you're really only hurting them. By making them think that the image they have produced is worthy of critical acclaim when it is not, you only keep the person from developing as a photographer and artist. Despite all the risks, I think most will agree that it's still better to speak honestly than remain silent out of fear.

As an aside, we do have a wonderful group of people who like certain images that are outside of the normally appealing images (grainy,blurry,vague,etc) there is NOTHING at all wrong with entering an image that will score poorly. If you have your reasons for choosing an image like this, then embrace your reasons, and stop worrying about what the masses think, you are clearly trying to appeal to a different demographic (perhaps even only yourself), and it just so happens that I love and will even vote highly on some of these types of photos, depending on the image and the challenge.

I honestly hope you get great value out of my comments and votes, but I really cannot be bothered to attempt to both judge your image and try to make you happy. After all, everyone wants comments, and that really should include the negative ones too.

When you're voting, please don't be afraid to give the 1's to the images you feel are the bad and the 10's the images you feel are great, whatever your reasons may be. Doing anything less means that you are failing to achieve your full potential as a voter.

I hope to see your new work soon, as I'd love to tell you how I feel about it and what effect it has upon me.

Cheers,
Cory Boehne

Message edited by author 2012-07-17 17:35:36.
07/17/2012 03:16:27 PM · #2
well said Cory. If you want constructive feedback to help you grow and learn this is the place. If you want fluffy "nice" comments there's always Flickr.
07/17/2012 03:23:52 PM · #3
Well said.
Hopefully people understand when their scores drop/rise it's for the same reasons you mentioned.

Message edited by author 2012-07-17 15:24:21.
07/17/2012 03:35:39 PM · #4
I definately agree...however I think we still need to get rid of trolls
07/17/2012 04:29:05 PM · #5
Originally posted by Cory:

The main function of DPC is that of a photo contest, the general philosophy of which is centered around the winning of virtual ribbons which represent popular appeal due to the use of excellent imagery, imagination and execution, all while keeping well within the relevant challenge topic.

The "mission statement" on the "About" page belies your major premise: the purpose of the site is for photographers to help each other to become "beter," while the contest is really just the chosen format used to achieve that purpose.

Originally posted by About DPC:

The original idea behind the site was for it to be a place where the two of us and a couple of our friends could teach ourselves to be better photographers by giving each other a 'challenge' for the week.


Otherwise, I pretty much agree with everything you said, and welcome any feedback/criticism intended to help "improve" (in the opinion of the commenter) the picture in question ...
07/17/2012 04:29:57 PM · #6
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by Cory:

The main function of DPC is that of a photo contest, the general philosophy of which is centered around the winning of virtual ribbons which represent popular appeal due to the use of excellent imagery, imagination and execution, all while keeping well within the relevant challenge topic.

The "mission statement" on the "About" page belies your major premise: the purpose of the site is for photographers to help each other to become "beter," while the contest is really just the chosen format used to achieve that purpose.

Originally posted by About DPC:

The original idea behind the site was for it to be a place where the two of us and a couple of our friends could teach ourselves to be better photographers by giving each other a 'challenge' for the week.


Otherwise, I pretty much agree with everything you said, and welcome any feedback/criticism intended to help "improve" (in the opinion of the commenter) the picture in question ...


Ok, agreed. I will reword the statement to be more accurate and in line with my true meaning. Thanks for pointing that out!

Message edited by author 2013-01-11 14:17:06.
07/17/2012 04:45:45 PM · #7
One thing I've found is that sometimes it's better to take a pass on a challenge than it is to submit an entry you know will not do well. I have found that when I get negative comments on an image I shouldn't have submitted I'm not only aggravated at the comment, but that I submitted in the first place. I'm much more receptive to constructive criticism if I'm happy with my image before I submit it.

Surprises will happen as well. There have been a couple of images that I've submitted that have done *much* better than I ever would have imagined. It amazes me that people really like some of the things they do......and when it's this community, it really means something, at least to me.

I recently joined, and entered, some images on one of those "other" sites. They were cherry-picked from my own archives, not shot within a set theme & time period, and having scored a half dozen awards, it just doesn't have the same gratification for me as seeing myself on the front page here after rollover.

If you utilize what you get in the way of comments and scores to gauge your work as it is received by this community, and learn from it, you will become a much better photographer over time. There are literally hundreds here who can vouch for that.

This is my view of DPC, it's on the bottom of my profile page, and it will stay there.......

If this place doesn't do anything else, it'll make you work your @$$ off, and unless you're dead between the ears, you *WILL* learn!
07/17/2012 04:56:31 PM · #8
I agree Cory and I do believe its the generosity of photographers on here that help me to try and get better - sharing their knowledge and time - I would name names but it would embarrass them.

I love critique but have little confidence in giving it - but will endevour to try.
07/17/2012 05:04:19 PM · #9
Originally posted by eyestrange:

I agree Cory and I do believe its the generosity of photographers on here that help me to try and get better - sharing their knowledge and time - I would name names but it would embarrass them.

I love critique but have little confidence in giving it - but will endevour to try.


:) You see what you see, you like what you like, how can you not be confident in that?

If you don't think you can critique the techniques, that's great, no problem! Critique what you do know, tell them how you feel, what you see, take some time and explore the image and tell them what you found... Many times, you'll see something they have missed, or find meaning that was unintended... Even the most untrained and unskilled eyes have great value in this respect- I wish that people who knew nothing about photography would tell me what they see and feel about my images, somehow it seems as though it may be even more genuine and real than feedback from a biased and experienced voter.

In the end, I just think that too many people believe that you have to be a master photographer to be able to vote on the images here "correctly" ... BAH! That's BS! If you can see, you can vote, and vote well. If you can see and write, then you can not only vote, but you can comment when you feel like it too! Just vote as you see it, and comment on what you really can comment on well, and speak to, if all you know is how you feel, then tell me about that! If you really have no feelings, no advice, nothing, then move on - the image deserves no comment from you, and you shouldn't bother giving one, unless of course you're doing a 100% marathon, which is always fun! :)

07/17/2012 05:15:54 PM · #10
Originally posted by eyestrange:

I love critique but have little confidence in giving it - but will endevour to try.


The odd thing about critiquing the work of others is how much it will improve your own work. You don't have to be right you just have to see what you like and dislike in that work.
Once you refine your own likes and dislikes you can apply that more refined aesthetic to your own work, and it will be better for it. When judging the work of others we have a colder eye than in judging our own work because we have no emotional involvement in the making of the work. If the person who's work you judge has a problem with your reaction to their work, that is not your problem, it is theirs.
07/17/2012 05:16:57 PM · #11
Comments generally fall into one of two broad categories:

1) Very blunt and/or insulting comments. These may get one of the following responses:

A) The entrant may get mad and vow to become a better photographer to "show them." This is arguably a good result.

B) Another entrant may be demoralized and avoid entering again for fear of additional rejection. For the most part, this is a bad result.

The risk of result B is too great for me to personally offer this type of critique. I'm not so busy that I need to discourage a person's effort through harsh remarks.

2) Constructive and carefully worded comments may have more consistent appeal to all voters. I believe these are the type of remarks you are suggesting we should all leave and accept in more volume. I completely agree. We should speak to the details of the photograph, ignoring any real or imagined barriers the photographer may have faced, while also striving to avoid any belittling of the photographer.


07/17/2012 05:26:08 PM · #12
Originally posted by JiaBob:

Comments generally fall into one of two broad categories:

1) Very blunt and/or insulting comments. These may get one of the following responses:

A) The entrant may get mad and vow to become a better photographer to "show them." This is arguably a good result.

B) Another entrant may be demoralized and avoid entering again for fear of additional rejection. For the most part, this is a bad result.

The risk of result B is too great for me to personally offer this type of critique. I'm not so busy that I need to discourage a person's effort through harsh remarks.

2) Constructive and carefully worded comments may have more consistent appeal to all voters. I believe these are the type of remarks you are suggesting we should all leave and accept in more volume. I completely agree. We should speak to the details of the photograph, ignoring any real or imagined barriers the photographer may have faced, while also striving to avoid any belittling of the photographer.


While I certainly do advocate trying to make things constructive and carefully worded, there is a line where we get into ego petting and gentle handling, I'm also advocating staying on the adult side of that line.

..

My major problem with your comment is that you've ignored one of my biggest points. Namely: My judgement of your photograph does not constitute a judgement of you, your person, your character, your photography skills, your editing skills, or anything else related to you... It is a judgement and comment about the photograph, and it should be taken as such, no matter how insulting, rude, blunt, or traumatically worded it may be.

Now, I should also point out that there is another line here, one that must never be crossed: As a commenter, do not say things that reflect upon anything other than the image, how it affects you, and how it fits within the challenge. Anything else is out of line and should be met with righteous hostility.
07/17/2012 05:27:54 PM · #13
I think that the act of critiquing (i.e. making a thoughtful constructive comment on a photo) actually helps the person making the remark as much as the person receiving it. If you can articulate what you like or dislike in a photo, you can use that to critique your own work and therefore make adjustments before you even release the shutter that will make your images shine. Even if you don't share your critique with the photographer go through the steps in your head anyways. (I actually do this when I am waiting for an appointment. I'll pick up a magazine and look at the pictures and think about what I like about the images.)
07/17/2012 07:17:30 PM · #14
Originally posted by Cory:


While I certainly do advocate trying to make things constructive and carefully worded, there is a line where we get into ego petting and gentle handling, I'm also advocating staying on the adult side of that line.

..

My major problem with your comment is that you've ignored one of my biggest points. Namely: My judgement of your photograph does not constitute a judgement of you, your person, your character, your photography skills, your editing skills, or anything else related to you... It is a judgement and comment about the photograph, and it should be taken as such, no matter how insulting, rude, blunt, or traumatically worded it may be.

Now, I should also point out that there is another line here, one that must never be crossed: As a commenter, do not say things that reflect upon anything other than the image, how it affects you, and how it fits within the challenge. Anything else is out of line and should be met with righteous hostility.


I agree with you. A constructive comment about a photograph does not and should not be construed as a comment about the worth of the individual who took the photo. I thought you nailed that part. My intent was merely to shore up the "constructive" part for those who might be inclined to belittle the individual. It is okay to say we don't like what Johnny has done. It is not okay to say we don't like Johnny.

07/17/2012 07:22:03 PM · #15
Originally posted by Citadel:

I think that the act of critiquing (i.e. making a thoughtful constructive comment on a photo) actually helps the person making the remark as much as the person receiving it. If you can articulate what you like or dislike in a photo, you can use that to critique your own work and therefore make adjustments before you even release the shutter that will make your images shine. Even if you don't share your critique with the photographer go through the steps in your head anyways. (I actually do this when I am waiting for an appointment. I'll pick up a magazine and look at the pictures and think about what I like about the images.)


This is also a great point. When I take the effort to vote, I give real consideration to the photos. For me, voting is as valuable as receiving votes for building understanding. I am always interested to see how far off my vote is from the rest of the group. Where there are disagreements between my vote and the majority opinion, I consider the photo again to see if I can determine where I missed the mass appeal. Right or wrong, good scores on DPC are a result of understand what appeals to this group.
07/18/2012 06:45:24 AM · #16
Sometimes the blunt and honest approach used by some of the more testostorone induced individuals (was that a value judgement ;) ) says more about the lack of their intuitiveness in evaluation rather than the photographic artist being thin skinned to that critique of their own work.

Message edited by author 2012-07-18 06:49:28.
07/18/2012 07:00:12 AM · #17
Originally posted by daisydavid:

Sometimes the blunt and honest approach used by some of the more testostorone induced individuals (was that a value judgement ;) ) says more about the lack of their intuitiveness in evaluation rather than the photographic artist being thin skinned to that critique of their own work.

Now, where's that like button :) What a great comment.
07/18/2012 07:56:10 AM · #18
I mark almost all comments on my images as "helpful". The truth is most comments at DPC are not constructive criticisms. I think there is a policy at DPC to encourage quantity of comments, regardless of quality. I read all comments and accept them as well-intentioned feedback. One must consider the source. There are a few highly respected individuals to whose comments I pay close attention. But, those really helpful comments are very rare. Conversely, there are some newbies (to photography and this site) who are told to make lots of comments in an attempt to improve their "eye". Frankly, some comments are made which are quite flawed and misguided and represent a misunderstanding of basic principles. And, I'm not being thin-skinned here. I do mark these comments as helpful, too, so I think it's a problem when the newbie gets a "helpful" rating on a comment which is from the twilight zone. The feedback loop is incomplete. While one can PM an individual to offer some feedback on the quality of their comments, such an action is extremely frowned upon by most members and the SC. The educational aspect of the commenting process is truncated.

Back a few years ago, some newer members engaged in robo-commenting in an attempt to rack up several or many 100% comment badges for their profile page. From some of those comments, I concluded that not everyone carefully reviews all challenge entries when participating in such an effort.

That said, I have tried to offer comments on all the images in a couple of recent challenges of special interest to me. (AA and Birds) I spent a lot of time doing this. It's not easy to do right. The feedback to me was generally good, but in a very few cases, my comments raised hackles and probably retaliation. I've decided that some people do not want constructive criticism. I will only offer comments now to a small percentage of images which I think I can offer helpful insight or constructive ideas for improvement. As always, if someone wants a more detailed critique on their image, I've almost always responded with a straight-from-the-shoulder opinion.
07/18/2012 09:13:02 AM · #19
one learns more about themselves, and more about the art of photography in general from viewing photographs and leaving comments, than receiving comments themselves.(as pointed out by many over the years, and mentioned previously in this thread)

If we assume that this is even partly true, shouldn't we ask, what are you learning about yourself leaving pointless, aggro comments? Why would anyone want to belong and pay for a social media niche website where there were aggressive people in forums backing them down and being overly aggressive? This is an "art" website, no?

Constructive criticism involves dropping off the aggressive negativity as much if not more than it involves abandonment of the backslapping? People belittle the "good shot" comments- but that is just as much a gauge of how to proceed with the way you approach your shots as a general comment about the shot "not working for me" or a "2" vote, is it not?

However, just like Hollywood, sometimes any publicity is good publicity...



Message edited by author 2012-07-18 09:14:19.
07/18/2012 09:36:19 AM · #20
Right or wrong, and whether Iím commenting on what I like or dislike, my motto is never to leave a comment written in such a way that I would be offended to receive myself. That would not be helpful:)
07/18/2012 09:40:57 AM · #21
Originally posted by PennyStreet:

Right or wrong, and whether Iím commenting on what I like or dislike, my motto is never to leave a comment written in such a way that I would be offended to receive myself. That would not be helpful:)


Correct; it is not what way say but how we say it.

Cory, excellent work. I know what I know through this family. When my energy levels are up I will get back into working more for DPC. Just not right now.

07/18/2012 10:30:31 AM · #22
Originally posted by docpjv:

Originally posted by PennyStreet:

Right or wrong, and whether Iím commenting on what I like or dislike, my motto is never to leave a comment written in such a way that I would be offended to receive myself. That would not be helpful:)


Correct; it is not what way say but how we say it.

Cory, excellent work. I know what I know through this family. When my energy levels are up I will get back into working more for DPC. Just not right now.


Thats a good motto Penny, and yes, let me second the great treatment and discussion of this issue in this thread, Cory.
07/18/2012 11:14:15 AM · #23
I understand what you mean when you say the comment is on the photo and not the photographer. The practice of essentialism is ingrained in western culture (that our actions reveal truths about our inner "real" selves). What you are saying is that a person can take a bad photograph, and that same person can take a great photograph. They are not necessarily bad or great photographers.

This is an idea that I try to live by, having at one point in my life realized how I have been affected by essentialism.

Ok, so my point is that in reality it is difficult for people (myself included) to disassociate themselves from what they have done. So, criticism targeted at what they have done is perceived partly as a criticism of themselves. (To varying degrees of course depending on the people involved, the situation, etc etc.)

The emotional reaction to criticism is unavoidable. (It's essential imo otherwise the feedback would be ignored.) So, to provide criticism -- no matter how carefully worded and constructive -- and to not expect an emotional defensive reaction is not realistic. The gentle-wording approach helps to mitigate the defensive reaction but it'll always be there. I think that if you provide a critique, you are initiating dialog and should be prepared to continue that dialog.
07/18/2012 11:23:53 AM · #24
Originally posted by hahn23:

I mark almost all comments on my images as "helpful". The truth is most comments at DPC are not constructive criticisms. I think there is a policy at DPC to encourage quantity of comments, regardless of quality. I read all comments and accept them as well-intentioned feedback. One must consider the source. There are a few highly respected individuals to whose comments I pay close attention. But, those really helpful comments are very rare. Conversely, there are some newbies (to photography and this site) who are told to make lots of comments in an attempt to improve their "eye". Frankly, some comments are made which are quite flawed and misguided and represent a misunderstanding of basic principles. And, I'm not being thin-skinned here. I do mark these comments as helpful, too, so I think it's a problem when the newbie gets a "helpful" rating on a comment which is from the twilight zone. The feedback loop is incomplete. While one can PM an individual to offer some feedback on the quality of their comments, such an action is extremely frowned upon by most members and the SC. The educational aspect of the commenting process is truncated.


I pretty much agree with everything you said here. I am always trying to pay attention to how much weight I give to the source's level of experience, skills, etc...the fear is that I would too-easily dismiss a newb's insight because I'm upset at what they said. Or, that I take everything that the many-ribboned participant says as truth.
07/18/2012 11:36:05 AM · #25
I agree with your statement and i'm the recipient of one of your "more harshly worded comments" from a few days ago.
I took what was said as how it was intended. I did not feel the need to justify myself or start a debate about it because what's done is done and the comment is honestly spot-on.
I started here to improve my skills and through commenting on other photos, what i like or don't like, has helped me to improve my photography greatly in a relatively short time as I find myself constantly seeing setups before the camera is even out of the bag, how it will look here, how i can process it, what i don't like about the scene and what feedback i'll get. Many times i've made up my mind that it won't work and i'll try the shot to see and it turns out to be something that would get slaughtered. I'm definitely refining "the eye" through this.
While i have yet to ribbon, i know that I will one day and it will be because of support and critique on my images, both in-line and in PMs.
People should be directed to this post when they sign up - to read this and know that comments are not personal attacks, it's not the overall opinion and that most comments are left in good will, not to demean or belittle; so bascially "suck it up, buttercup, you can't please everybody".
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