Critiquing Critiques

Critiquing Critiques

  1. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Cheryl Jacobs submitted a new resource:

    Critiquing Critiques - Critiquing Critiques

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2016
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    These are all pretty sensible statements. It would be nice if there were a nationally disseminated rubric like this for those who do critiques for money at portfolio review sessions. I'm sure many such people address many of these criteria successfully, but, without guidance, some most certainly do not.
     
  3. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    All very well thought out, I enjoyed it. IMO, the hardest part about providing a critique would be to divorce yourself from your own methodology while trying to be objective at the same time.
     
  4. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Critique is a discipline that is more telling of the critic, than of the artist,
    and takes some personal transformation to learn.

    Criticism is not judgment, and it is not something that cannot be done without accountability or responsibility.

    To be a genuine critic of someone's work you must first bind yourself to the artist.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I don't per se have a problem with a critic offering their personal taste - so long as they A: identify it as such, and B: offer it in the form of "I'd like to see you try technique x - I think it has potential to improve your work". That of course feeds in to your ultimate point - understand that a critique IS one person's opinion, and they just may not get what you're trying to do. However, if every critique you receive says the same thing, maybe it's time to listen and rethink what you're doing, because nobody's getting it. It may not be that your idea is bad, but something about what you're doing is not communicating that idea.
     
  6. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    If you ask someone for a critique of your work, then you should expect it to be based on their individual tastes. To expect someone to divorce themselves from their own work in judging yours is asking too much. At best, if they are a good teacher, they may be able to recognize what you are trying to do, maybe even better recognition than yourself. The onus is really on you to pick the individual who can best judge your work, possibly someone you admire for their work. A mentor, for example. I would not submit a portfolio for review to one of those pay-for-review sessions composed of some disparate group of photographer/artists. Their critiques will range from superficial to nit-picking.
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I think that unasked for critique is a bit irritating especially if I am in an irritated mood. My answer is likely to be "yes I could do that and then I would be like you eh?" or "why don't you try to understand what I did instead of telling me to do what you would do?"

    But I do have some people who I am curious what they think of my work. They are open minded people and I am wondering if what is having an impact on me is having an impact on them as well.

    Dennis
     
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I find critique and reviews are useless without some knowledge of the person(s) doing the critique or reviews. Other than in a close knit community such as APUG, Internet is filled with self-proclaimed experts who may or may not have any experience or expertise but willing to offer opinions - and are very good at wording so that they sound authoritative. Making it worse, there are those who loves to purposely put something out and see what develops - mostly arguments.

    I make it my routine to see who's responding and if necessary,examine the reviewer before accepting any opinions - positive or negative.
     
  9. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    I'm an avid Toastmasters & could I suggest how we evaluate speakers and apply it to photography?

    This would apply to a seminar where it's a learning experience and not competition.

    What I would recommend is discovering from the maker of the print(s) what are s(he)'s objectives. Are there areas they want the evaluator to focus on? There are 12 elements that the PPA uses to determine a merit print. Does the maker want to those used as a foundation of the evaluation.

    Suggest having a sheet of paper for each print to make notes. Divide the paper (could possibly be formulated in the cranium but sometimes fog gets in the way!) in thirds. The first third find some good qualities positive traits that you found in the photograph. Can't find any? Keep working on it until you do.

    The second third would be one or two, maybe even three, ideas to help the maker improve next time around. Our goal should be to build a fire inside the maker so as they go out and learn from our recommendations and want to submit more.

    Be careful with this part. Egos can get bruised. Our goal should be one or two and maybe three areas to go out and do better. And better the next time and every time after that.

    Finally at the last third on the paper, end your critique on a positive not. Find a couple more good qualities, maybe recite again what you said during the first part and end your critique saying something like, "Good job and I look forward to reviewing the next prints you make."
     
  10. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    Thank, Cheryl. Good advice.
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    In the old days, a good way to get criticism was to find a handful of folks whose work, and character, one respected and showed them the work.

    I sought out a couple folks whose work was different from mine, and a couple whose work was more in line with my sympathies. I often show work to an old friend who is pretty abrasive, as well to a more warm and fuzzy critic. The point is to work with folks whose work, or vision, is sharp yet fairly open minded. I show work to a couple complete non-photographers. Over time I've learned to understand how they see, and how they express themselves. They are reliable for the truth, and not to just give what I might want to hear.

    There is a danger to groups like PPA, for the merit print stuff might not have anything to do with your work. You need to develop your own standards, and test your work against other folks vision. Of course, if you admire the PPA vision, great.

    Package prints and mail them to friends. Have small viewings with friends. If you don't know the critic, you have no way of understanding the criticism.

    .
     
  12. Vincent Brady

    Vincent Brady Subscriber

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    Sometimes people set themselves up by making elaborate claims about the quality of their work and IMO need to be taken down a peg or two especially if there work fails to match their claims. A badly exposed print is exactly that , the same can be said for a print lacking in contrast. Poor darkroom work should be pointed out. Honesty should be at the heart of your criticism but I agree that it need not always be delivered with a mallet.
     
  13. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Well said, Cheryl.

    At the risk of highjacking this thread, I'll try to direct attention to a crtic "of the first order", someone whose critique I would welcome and be grateful for; Clement Greenberg.
    I had not read him for some time now ... and refreshing my memory reminds me of how he did stand head and shoulders above the "usual ..." sorry, but the only fitting description I can think of is "incoherent" crowds of critics. Googling for Clement Greenberg works well.

    Now ... with pre-aplogies ...

    An Epiphany:

    In this last hiatus from the scene (broken hip + rehab) I read Alyssa East's book, Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in New England.

    In it, she discusses the work of the "Black Mountain Poets" and more specifically, Charles Olsen, who established a new branch (genre?) called "Projective Verse" - rejecting writing according to the classical or "academic" principles - meter, line, form and meaning. He favored writing "open" verse according to the poet's breath, the sound of language, the openness of the page, or "field", and letting content dictate form.

    For me there was only a very slight "bridge" between poetry and photography - or for that matter - ANY art.

    I have studied the "rules" for many decades ... and suddenly I am confronted with Olsen's main idea:

    "Poetry (photography) is not meant to be contained structures; they are meant to project and transfer their subject's energy to the "reader"."

    It has taken a while to absorb such a massive change to my "vision" - but my vision HAS changed!
     
  14. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Interesting. I've been to a few exhibitions, juried competitions ... and I've yet to see a "claim" of any type made by the photographer, such as "this is a `perfectly' - or `properly' exposed print. I have never seen a requirement for acceptance as "Tecnically perfect", probably because no one can define `perfect' or `proper'.

    All we have to do is consult our crytal balls and determine if high or low "key" was intended...