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Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 05-31-2008, 10:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Somewhere along the line, this business of G1 critiques went off the track in my opinion. The general consensus here seems to be that G1 ought to be a protected place where you can post your images without fear of real world criticism. It's rare to see a critique that really lays it on the line about what's wrong with an image, and not just from a technical viewpoint, but also from an artistic and emotional viewpoint.

I think that somehow, we got off the track, and are doing it backward. Instead of G1 being a nice safe place where you can be sure you'll only hear nice things about your work, this should be the place where your peers can really lay it on the line about your work and set you back on the right track if you have gone off on a bad road or lost sight of what's really good.

A word about peers... A lot of folks here argue that you have to post a picture to critique someone else's work. My opinion has been stated here numerous times before... You don't take pictures to be viewed only by other photographers. Why should you expect to be critiqued only by photographers? And please, that old "But they have to know something about photography and have demonstrated it" line just doesn't hold water. A picture either works for ALL viewers or it doesn't work.

Does a well regarded photographer's opinion carry more weight? Sure... But that doesn't negate everybody else's opinion, and can be a risky proposition. Well regarded photographers can make mistakes just like everybody else, and they're much more likely not to be told when they are full of ... ummm... merde."

Of course, there is the strong possibility that most images posted for critique here are really being posted primarily for a little ego stroking. Maybe there needs to be a special section for the "I don't really want to know what's wrong with the image, just tell me how much you like it..." images. This is especially true in glamour type images where a beautiful naked female makes up for a great many shortcomings of the photographer.

But in being critiqued, does that mean you have to be subjected to personal attacks... well, maybe. Sometimes it's pretty hard to keep separate image comments and "What the hell were you thinking?" comments. So I'd suggest not judging a critique by an isolated comment, but take a look at the entire scope of it. It's generally pretty obvious which critiques are really only personal attacks, and which do address the image's issues. A "What the hell were you thinking?" type comment really is appropriate at times.

Keep this in mind. There is a wide range of interests represented here. I know some forum members may find it really difficult to believe, but not everybody here aspires to be the next Arny Freytag and spend their lives shooting playmates. After all, the playmate style is a relatively generic type of photography, and rather more formulaic than most other genres.

Ultimately, an image is going to be judged by the world at large. That's a tough venue. There's lots of competition, lots of different viewpoints, and lots of folks who'll tell you straight out what they think about your work. Maybe G1 should prepare you for that venue, not protect you from it. Like the song says about New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Maybe G1 ought to be a proving ground rather than a hand holding area.

I'm sure there will be the "Why bring this up again?" comments. Why not bring it up? Maybe if it stimulates some fresh ideas and different view points critiques will actually start to mean something. Besides, I don't see much scintillating discussion of other issues occuring. At times, there just seems to be a lot of rather adolescent panting over images of semi-naked girls...

Finally, I welcome response comments. But please, try to write in intelligible English, try to keep your arguments somewhat logical, and if you are going to call me names, at least be original.
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 01:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ah, back to the old days ...... remember the days of useful citicism Al, days when we posted to learn and be schooled by those senior members who have long since vanished. Yes, boys and girls, this used to be a place much like that. Now I don't claim to be anywhere near an oldtimer here, but there were definitely days in the last decade that saw a lot more learning here, solid suggestions and tons more useful onfo than just "oooooo, nice pic of that hot nekkid chick ;-)".
It's too bad and its probably what drove a lot of really fine photogs away. Sure there were fights, flames, whatever. Some got over it, some didn't, but that's life. Things should definitely return to that, even if in just a small way. Try posting one honest to goodness critique each time you visit, look at the photo and tell us and the creator (of the image) what you feel in your most honest opinion...... I propose you preface it by the words "htg critique" or something similar. This does not mean you have to run the image into the ground, just be honest ... if you love it, say what you love about it. If you think something is ,issing or could b done better, say so.

Al, great post!

ok .. I'm done ....let's do it!

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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 10:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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As you may or may not know, the main reason behind a critique being taken more seriously, either in favor or against, by somebody who shows their work (also pleas see rule #10 for G1) is that they know how to articulate why it works or does not work as a photograph. G1 and formerly GG has worked because you have been able to get quality critiques by people who not only could talk the talk, but walk the walk. Heck, if I wanted to get just basic critiques by people who don't know what they are talking about, I'd just go to this one site that I'll only describe with the same letter repeating. I'm reminded of an old proverb, "Opinions are like asses, everybody has one, and some of them stink!."
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 11:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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As someone who has yet to post a picture, I don't feel that criteria is all that important. My lacking of posting pictures has done nothing to erase my over 25 years of professional experience. If you doubt the level of my ability, simply reading my posts should adequately demonstrate my back ground.

Of course this is in part my penchant for writing comments longer than one sentence and supporting my opinion with examples, even if only verbal, or suggestions for improvement.

I would think that we should all just reaffirm our desire to be respectful of others and make complete critiques, rather than just slam the maker.
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 12:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Interesting thread Al. Perhaps long overdue. I am a amatuer photographer. I am middle aged, well educated, have a family, a well established career, and a hefty mortgage. My roots are deep where they are. I have no desire to become a professional photographer. But, on my down time, I have a passion for photography (particularly Glamour) and Photoshop. Although, I don't aspire to become a professional photographer, I do aspire to become a good photographer.
I became a member of the G1 community almost a year ago for the critique forum that it offered and for the abundance of professional photographers that frequented this site. I use G1 as a learning tool to better my photography. I have aquired alot of useful information from this site and because of that I will continue to visit and post.
I too feel the critiques could use some improvement. If you look at the numbers, the critique rate is less than 1%. Plenty of viewers with nothing to contribute to the forum. In my opinion, you can't get better if someone isn't pointing out what you might be doing wrong. Most of the time, I recieve no critiques so I continue to post what I guess are unworthy photographs.
In a recent post, I essentially tried begging for a critique. When one of the "Big Fishes" in this G1 community bit the Hook, the critique was prefaced with an attitude of " the photo sucks and there is so much wrong with it that it's a waste of time to critique (Gee! Thanks )." Turned out, however, to be a pretty useful critique for me. Many of the points were well taken, but I felt the preface was unnecessary. I paid my Lifetime Membership. I am not just another Free Member. I am also a supporter of the Shot Critic website. I think myself and others like me deserve better. And I might add that many of the professional photographers are excellent on this website, but some of you professional guys out there (not directed at you Al) could use some improvement too! Give your fellow photogs a break!
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 03:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_Nowak View Post
I think that somehow, we got off the track, and are doing it backward. Instead of G1 being a nice safe place where you can be sure you'll only hear nice things about your work, this should be the place where your peers can really lay it on the line about your work and set you back on the right track if you have gone off on a bad road or lost sight of what's really good.
I've gotta disagree that G1 has become a place where you only hear nice things. If you want proof look at critiques of my photos!!
 
 
Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 04:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I may infrequently photograph in a Glamour (or any) sense, and even more infrequently actually post my images but I have G1 set up as my homepage so everytime I crank on the EI I see the main page first before any other site. So, in my mind, that shows the importance I give to G1, the images here, the critiques and everything else related to this site.

Now I have, on occasion, posted my critiques...without including an image of my own. But if anyone doubts my abilities all they have to do is to go to my (admittedly) small portfolio here. They may think I'm a 'hack' but I definitely don't think of myself as a GWC...and neither should they. I've put in my time.

I will also, occasionally, be stuck trying to find something more to say than "Beautiful Image". But do we all have to be Art Critics who seem to *always* HAVE to spout paragraphs? I mean sometimes the best said is the least said...and there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "I like this".

HOWEVER...having said that, we really should try to say why we like it or don't like it...what works, what doesn't. Critiques are good learning tools as long as the comments are focused on the work and not the author. "You Suck" is NOT a proper Critique...neither is "This Sucks" as it's a reflection of the photographer. But "This image falls down because [fill in the blank]" does have the beginnings of a good critique and unless the work is truely horrendous there should be some positive comment added too..."This image has [fill in the blank] going for it".

'Commenting' can be done by anyone, with or without experience. 'Critiquing', in the best sense of the word, is a learned art.

My contribution to the discussion.
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 04:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiahbrink View Post
As you may or may not know, the main reason behind a critique being taken more seriously, either in favor or against, by somebody who shows their work is that they know how to articulate why it works or does not work as a photograph.
Then, per your position, non-photographers either a) can't articulate or b) can't determine why an image doesn't work.

Sorry. I don't buy either argument. Got any proof to back them up?

According to your position, all magazine photo editors would have to be photographers. I don't think that's even remotely close to reality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiahbrink View Post
G1 and formerly GG has worked because you have been able to get quality critiques by people who not only could talk the talk, but walk the walk.
A couple of key points here. For starters, "get quality critiques." Just what is a "quality critique?"

Is it one that strokes your ego by telling you what a great photographer you are because you managed to get the image in focus AND have the exposure close enough that the highlights didn't totally blow out?

Or is it one that says you totally blew the image, but the babe in it has fantastic boobs?

Help us out here... just what is a "quality critique" and what differentiates it from any other critique?

"Talk the talk and walk the walk"... Okay let's carry this to its logical conclusion. According to you, only professionals could comment on images since apparently they "walk the walk."
So the validity of a critique is based not on the critic's insight, but on how much money he makes taking pictures.

Oh, and only professionals using the same type camera, and lighting gear should be able to comment because they truly walk the SAME walk.

Nope, sorry, I don't buy that either...


Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiahbrink View Post
Heck, if I wanted to get just basic critiques by people who don't know what they are talking about, I'd just go to this one site that I'll only describe with the same letter repeating.

Why do you assume that possible critics "don't know what they are talking about?" They've got eyes don't they. They know when an image appeals to them, and what they don't like.

Okay, so they may not know an F stop from a bus stop. What possible difference does that make? Photography is about communicating. If your image doesn't communicate with viewers, they know it.

The issue I have with the site you mentioned is the same issue in evidence here. Nobody says anything critical. It's a collection of "I like it..." comments. But at least that site doesn't pretend it's something else.
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 05:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Hdvannjr View Post
but some of you professional guys out there (not directed at you Al)
Lest anyone have the wrong impression, I am NOT in photography as a business. It's just the black hole into which I dump money.

Remember back when it was Garage Glamour, and the presumption was that you really were doing glamour photography in your garage. Seems like eons ago...
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Re: Some thoughts on critiques...
Old 06-01-2008, 07:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kgphoto View Post
As someone who has yet to post a picture, I don't feel that criteria is all that important. My lacking of posting pictures has done nothing to erase my over 25 years of professional experience. If you doubt the level of my ability, simply reading my posts should adequately demonstrate my back ground.

Of course this is in part my penchant for writing comments longer than one sentence and supporting my opinion with examples, even if only verbal, or suggestions for improvement.

I would think that we should all just reaffirm our desire to be respectful of others and make complete critiques, rather than just slam the maker.
Kg, just curious, any reason why you don't post any pics? I mean, no to doubt your experience on the matter, but it would really drive home your point with a critique if you showed an image as well.
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