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|Tutorials :: Commenting For Beginners (A Non-Analytical Approach)
Commenting For Beginners (A Non-Analytical Approach)by posthumous
Check out "9 Guidelines for Giving and Receiving Feedback" if you're
wondering what sort of comments you should give at DPC. The suggestions below
are specifically for people who don't think they know enough about photography
to comment. However, they can also work for anyone as an antidote to writer's
block (step 7 will tell you why).
First of all, don't think that people don't want to hear from you.
Comments are considered precious by most DPCers, many of whom consider any comment
better than no comment. I cannot guarantee that your comment will be appreciated
every time, but from my own experience leaving "non-technical" comments,
I can tell you that the positive feedback I've gotten from my comments
far, far outweighs the negative.
- Don't fake it. Don't copy technical comments you saw on other
photos unless you're sure they apply to the one you're looking at.
Don't tell someone to put a subject on "the thirds" unless
you (a) know what "the thirds" are and (b) know why this subject
would look better on "the thirds." If you do have an answer for
(b) it would be nice to include it in your comment.
- Include your first reaction. Photos live and die on their visual impact, and
one of the most powerful indicators of that impact is the first reaction it
creates in a viewer. Describe how you felt when you first saw the photo, even
if you can't explain why. Remember, the photographer is as human and fallible
as you are, and has his/her own impressions about the photograph. Your impressions
may never have occurred to him/her.
- Show yourself. If you think something biased your opinion of the photo, mention
it. This might be a mood you are in or an ingrained love or hate of the subject
matter. What good is being completely objective when both the artist and the
audience are not? We're just people. Revealing a little bit about yourself
and you perspective helps show the photographer how the photograph is working
in the "real world."
- Think out loud. Work out your feelings and impressions by writing them in
the text box. This saves you time and gives an honest evaluation to the photographer.
My only caveat is that you may want to tone down your language if your reactions
might be considered offensive to the photographer or the model. A good example
of this is if you have a negative reaction to a particular model. That model
could be the photographer, or the photographer's child. Be gentle with
- Make associations. Describe the things that this photo reminds you of. Again,
even if you can't explain why. These things might be other photographs
or paintings, but they might be something entirely different. They could be
movies, books, stories, people, memories, appliances, anything. This could spark
all kinds of inspiration in the photographer as s/he sees the ways the photograph
connects to a larger world of ideas and feelings.
- Include the unexplainable. Twice now I've told you to say something
even if you can't explain it. By only giving feelings and reactions that
you can explain, you are limiting what parts of your brain you are using. And
if you're anything like me, you need all the brain you can get! An expert
photographer will use all sorts of techniques to create a mood. You might not
know what those techniques are, but you do know the mood you are getting from
the photo, and if you write that in your comments, the photographer knows if
s/he has succeeded or failed.
- Look and learn. While you are at DPC, you will probably be learning more
about photography, but no matter how much you learn, you can maintain the nonjudgmental
approach outlined above. Your knowledge will work itself naturally into your
reactions, just like all of your other memories and experiences. While you are
learning, I suggest studying other visual media as well, like movies and paintings.
It all contributes to the same ability, one that can only benefit DPC: the art
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