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  1. #21

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    Jorge,

    I'd be more interested in Alan's opinion of whether or not my (limited) advice and the critique module are useless, rather than yours, as he was the one who asked the question.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    Jorge,

    I'd be more interested in Alan's opinion of whether or not my (limited) advice and the critique module are useless, rather than yours, as he was the one who asked the question.

    Cheers,

    Roger
    Fortunatelly for me what interests you and what I am able to post are two different things. BTW, since you keep hawking your so called "school" when are you going to become an APUG sponsor? Or are we supposed to feel "priviledged" by your presence here so much that we need to keep putting up with your incesant self promotion?

    As to the critique you gave Alan, is this an example of your great experience? Just goes to show, those who can do, those who cant teach....

  3. #23

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    Well, Jorge, you go on being your charming self, and I'll go on being my charming self, and we'll let other people decide whom they like.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  4. #24

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    Fine by me, I just would have thought that such a luminary who has gone out of his way to let us know how acomplished he is would have written a better critique.....silly me!

  5. #25
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Every once in a while I experience a phrase that stuns me. I'm turning that one over: "A better critique". To me, the idea of "critiquing to improve someone else's vision or sensitivity", especially by pointing out ... er... excuse me - "drawing attention" to all the so-called faults of the work is nothing but counterproductive anyway. How could any "critique" be better than any another?? More closely following convention, or "accepted" practices? More effectively defining the Critics opinion? Making the critique-ee feel less worthwhile? Inspiring the vict ... uh .. photographer to only do things "my way"?

    I can try to express the effect the work has on me. I might say, "I feel a sense of tranquility when I look at this", or "I am disturbed, or elated, or ... I smell onions..." All of which I cannot explain. I would NEVER say, "This is wrong!!"... because I do NOT know what is "right".

    I will never forget a critique written by a respected (Highly!!) Art Critic for the Boston Globe. He wrote about a book by one of Ipswich's most highly respected Photographer/ Artists. She had produced a book containing scandalous nudes of prominent Townspeople - completely aboveboard and WITH their knowledge and consent. Her next book and the subject of the critique was a collection of architecture from Cape Cod; buildings, bridges, lighthouses (?), wharves ... all bereft of people in them.
    He wrote, "This is a continuation of (her) first work - the buildings and bridges are [I]NUDE/I] -- they do not have people on them ..."

    A bridge is nude without people? What if the bridge does not have people, and it was built less than eighteen years ago? Are we talking about "child-bridge" pornography??

    How would you - anyone - evaluate that critique? "Good", "Bad", "Intermediate"? "Stupid -whacked out, must have been smoking `funny' cigarettes" - or ...???

    I know of only one course of action to obtain significant work, and it has nothing to do with critique: Keep going. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It WILL come. It will, - or you may well find that it has been there all the time, and you never realized its presence.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #26
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    How could any "critique" be better than any another??
    I in turn am stunned to read comments like this. To anyone who has ever been involved in passing opinions on others' work, there can be no doubt whatsoever about the answer to this question - a good critique is one that helps the author of a work (whether a photograph or not) to move along the road towards what the AUTHOR wants to achieve. A bad critique (of which there are more examples in photography than any other field I know, because for some reason in photography there are many amateurs in influential positions) is one in which the work is measured against the CRITIC's aspirations and opinions (which are certain not to be the same as the author's and may be diametrically opposite) and ridiculed for not meeting these (which the work was never meant to do in the first place). The most egregious example of this attitude is the archetypal camera club judge, others include, for example, news photographers sneering at art images, art photographers decrying professional illustrative work, etc.

    Regards,

    David

  7. #27

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    Good morning Alan,

    I took a look at your website, and the APUG Gallery images. Nice to see someone with a strong illustration and design background getting into large format. Other than your Polaroid works (which I also do), the images of Duane stood out to me. I think if you put your drawing and illustration approach to your large format photography, then you should be getting quite a few interesting images. Usually after you have many images, you might be able to pick out a trend or style of your work. At an early stage, it can often be more about process, technique, or technical details than about composition or success of intent.

    In the US, there is National Portfolio Day, a multiple city tour of the top thirty or so schools of art in North America. I went to that numerous times, watching others get critiqued and getting some of my work reviewed. When I heard the same comments from at least three reviewers about the same work, then I would consider altering, changing, or replacing that in my portfolio. In a way this also relates back to a body, or volume, of work; when you get more images you will be able to compare them to each other and might end up with a direction. That direction might just become apparent to you through this process of creating images, then reviewing them yourself later.

    Your mention of Avedon is interesting. He did quite a variety of work, though sometimes is remembered for his stark evenly lit head on symmetrical portraits. It is tougher to pull off an interesting symmetrical image than an obviously asymmetrical image. Images that are close to symmetrical and not obviously asymmetrical can sometimes appear to some viewers to be somewhat unsettling. You know illustration, so you know composition types; those approaches can also work in portraiture.

    Anyway, I am only one voice, so hopefully many more will provide some comments. The only suggestion I have for you now is to do more images, then review and compare to what you have already done.

    Ciao!

    Gordon

  8. #28
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
    - a good critique is one that helps the author of a work (whether a photograph or not) to move along the road towards what the AUTHOR wants to achieve."
    I've seen this answer before... and I appreciate the thought behind the philosophy.

    However .. there is a necessary assumption that the critic does have an idea of "what the author (the one critiqued) WANTS to achieve." How CAN the critic know? Is there the necessity of an in-depth interview with the photographer before the critiquing process can begin?

    For this to "fit", the photographer MUST have a well-defined "goal". Not that this is in itself a "bad" thing, but I don't think is should be THE supreme consideration of the "goodness" of a photograph.

    I can choose to make a photograph of a Pipe (smoker's), in homage (could happen) of Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas une pipe". That is my intent. Perfectly (for the sake of argument) exposed, color balanced, printed --- and - a "good" critique would be ... ? Something like, "Great photograph!!" - You have achieved your goal!" ?

    On a more basic level .. Is it necessary to have a well-defined, conscious intent" in the first place? Is it not possible to produce an outstandingly beautiful photograph "accidentally"?

    I agree with the photographer who said, "Thirty percent of the world's greatest photographs are the results of fortunate accidents."

    I don't want this to be misinterpreted - it is certainly noble to try to help. Unfortunately, far too many critiques are essentially an accounting of all the ciritic's perceived faults in a photograph, and far too few attempts of - say - suggesting gentle modifications to the photographer's vision - emphasis suggesting... wiithout taking the chance of destroying the critique-ee's image of self-worth.

    The worst critiques are those intended to "beat down the newbies" in a paraniod attempt at the critic's self preservation - or, closely related, lifiting the critic's status still higher at someone else's expense.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #29
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    ... How CAN the critic know? ...
    I would suggest - by asking (in a face-to-face situation). If a critic has to work blind (which is the case, more or less, with pictures posted on a website), then it is necessary to make some assumptions, which should be stated clearly (e.g. "You seem to be aiming at X (but please tell me if I'm wrong). On this basis, you might like to consider A, B and C. I feel D and E have worked in this picture, but F hasn't," etc.).
    I think there's quite a difference between this approach and the apochryphal camera-club judge approach where the said judge takes one look at a picture and says "The photographer is obviously trying to do A. Everyone knows that the right way to do A is B, C and D." and then goes on to either openly state or imply that because the photographer has not conformed to the judge's prejudices, his/her work is a failure.

    Regards,

    David
    Last edited by David H. Bebbington; 07-17-2006 at 11:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
    I would suggest - by asking
    David
    Quite. Otherwise, it's a bit like trying to answer the question, "How should I cook?" Do you like spicy food or bland? How do you feel about olive oil? Garlic? Onions? Barbecues?

    Any attempt at a critique without knowing the photographer's hopes, ambitions, plans, intentions, etc., can only be the critic saying "Well, I like this..." or the camera club judge pronouncing, as you say, "He was clearly trying to do this, and the only way to to this is..."

    Increasingly I suspect that the purpose of a critique is to help the photographer clarify his or her goals or ambitions, questions to which he or she already knows the answer but has not analyzed sufficiently to realize this. That was why I wrote the critiques module I did in the Photo School, and why I suggested it. This offended Jorge for some reason -- he seemed to be upset that I should suggest that anyone might care to read something free, by someone with experience of giving critiques -- but I stand by it.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

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