When I first came here, I was very reluctant to comment on photos in the gallery...especially the critique gallery. I was given good advice...'add your voice to the chorus!' is what it amounted to. I started putting in my meager 2cents & I found that I learned from looking at those photos. I think it's a good thing to give your input...especially when no one else seems to be looking.
Originally Posted by SteveGangi
It's really easy to look at photos taken by people we consider to be really good. You see the comments...all the 'players' are there. But we have so much talent here that I have to wonder... does talent demand a price in the form of giving to the non-stars?
I have no clue! But I think it would be a great service to those of us who are not masters!
As someone who has added critiques to Ed's images... I'll follow up to his comments.
IN MY CASE, I comment on work that interests me or that I might have some comments on because I do similar work. While it may be true that critiques reflect the critiquer in some regards... I also read a subtle undertone that says "if you don't constantly praise the work, you must have some issues yourself."
This can be looked at 2 ways...
Either the critiquee can't/doesn't want honest opinions and is just seeking praise, and the critiquer is trying to help.
Perhaps the critiquer does have an agenda that is inappropriately being presented, and the critiquee is being wrongly "helped" because of it.
Personally, I feel that I tend to critique work technically. With no background on the image other than technical information, I only have the pose, colour, style etc... to critique. I think expecting people to respond to images based on intangible elements that only the photographer would know is a bit unrealistic.
As for critiquers not having their own images up... To each their own. Does a music critic need to be a virtuoso of the same instrument to know what is good or bad or in-between? I don't think so... In my case I started to upload some images, had some comments made, messages were posted about shortfalls in the gallery for storage, so decided to help by eliminating my own gallery space. I've yet to repost any images as I don't have a scanner hooked up at home.
Just a critique on my critiques...
In some respects, this is true, but I don't think there is anything wrong with the critiquer constantly being harsh, providing that the critique is sincere and not for the sake of being spiteful. Some people just have really high expectations and to become a perfectionist, that just may be neccessary. That's why Ansel Adams was so lauded as a master technician, would one discount his credibility simply because he was continuously griping about certain aspects of an image? I think not. That is why we generally react by viewing the critiquer's portfolio in return.
Originally Posted by Joe Symchyshyn
I think the problem with most photographers is that they have no concept of what "good" is.. Rarely is there an original concept in photography. Our works are usually influenced in one form or another by what we see as good. Some people look to American Photo magazine, or Outdoor Photography for their definition of good and hold themselves to that standard. Others look at Ansel Adams, or Weston and hold themselves to that standard. Others immitate postcards at the local gift shop. It's all about preference.
I've stated this many times, but her goes again: Photography is as difficult as one wants to make it. You can stop at aperture and shutter and still create an image, or you can work with the zone system, or you can dive into sensitometry, or you can plate your own negatives.. That's what makes photography so great, it never ends. Don't blame the critiquer for holding such high standards on an image, it's not their fault they are so critical
Money is not the problem. The problem is, I don't have any.
Reason I haven't put any of the things in my personal gallery into the critique gallery yet is that those are the only things I've scanned. I have other stuff that I consider stronger but have not yet scanned. What I'm saying is that I have a basic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in my work, and do a lot of self-critiquing. When I get other things scanned, I'll put them in the lion's den for you guys to have at 'em.
Some of our work is strong, some is not. A friend of mine once said he felt he had a good year if he got ten really strong images. And he probably made a few hundred 4x5 negs a year, as a serious, full-time, gallery-represented photographer. We know that certain images have a quality that raises them above the crowd. These are the ones that have staying power, and have drawn a response from many people over time.
Criticism is an essential tool in all the arts. Too bad it has become so embarrassing, and in many cases an "in group" kind of nepotism. But it's still needed. With media like photography and now self-publishing (of poetry, etc.) it's easy to produce a finished product, but it's all become so ubiquitous that the really good work gets drowned by the mediocre work. It used to be the job of critics to help sort it all out.
If you don't accept that some work is better or stronger, then this entire conversation seems ridiculous. But if you do think there's at least SOME kind of reasonably objective standard to aim for, then you might agree that criticism is essential to the artist's growth, and to the betterment of the medium.
So many replies ... so little time...
First, Joe ... I've never said, and I've been very careful to avoid implying, that one had to post to be enabled to critique. A critique is a reaction and everyone can and will react - no prior qualifications necessary. Yes, I am seeking "honesty" ... where is it mandated that honesty is necessarily accompanied by a lack of sensitivity to the feelings of others?
You speak of two (2) possibilities - "The critiquee doesn't WANT honest opinions, seeking only praise ", and "The Critic could have some sort of hidden agenda...". I maintain there are other possibilities, many others - possibly as many as there are people.
I want to share, and to a lesser degree, learn about the reactions of others to my work. That is why I submit my work for critique.
Praise? Praise is good, but, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I certainly will not lose sleep over its absence. I'm already losing sleep over the "grey card" thing.
I can hear it now ... "But .. but ... how can you expect to improve ...?"
The way I always have - by DOING. Stillman Clarke called it: "Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It will come. It WILL!"
Let's try to reduce this, and lessen some of the energy by considering an illustration away from the photography field:
A child is learning to ride a bicycle. How effective is "harsh criticism"? Is the learning process enhanced by calling to attention *every* single flaw in the process? If the child's center of gravity is 1.3 cm away from where it should be and s/he loses their balance --- what then? Smack them with a ruler so they won't forget?
There was another statement, I don't think it was yours ... no matter, I'm not judging - that "The trouble with new photographers is that they don't know what is good". Think about that, for a moment... does the child struggling to ride a bicycle "know what GOOD bicycle riding is?" I think they do. They just don't know HOW to do it yet.
Again (substitute wherever appropriate), To ride a bicycle, ride it, and ride it again (neglecting the mistakes) and ride it again. It will come. It WILL!
Ed Sukach, FFP.
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The "learning to ride a bicycle" analogy is convenient but not useful. One learning to ride automatically gets continuous, instant feedback. In my admittedly limited, experience, no such instant feedback exists in photography....especially on the aesthetic aspect of it.
Surely if it is pleasing to you, then that is all that matters? There is your constant feedback.
Originally Posted by GaussianNoise
I personally couldn't give a monkey's left nut what anyone else thinks of my photography. I photograph to please me, not to please others. I can see if I screw up the developing, if I over/under expose a shot. I learn from my mistakes. The same as if I fell off a bike I would learn from that.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I understand you position, but I disagree ...not wholly, but to a degree.
Originally Posted by rhphoto
I think a distinction must be made between "necessary" and "helpful". In the correct spirit, and with the proper application, it can be a useful tool. Absolutely necessary? No, I don't think it is. Art history is full of accounts where artists have been repeatedly nailed to the wall by critics, and eventually learned to ignore them. How many would you wish me to name?
Some kind of reasonably objective standard ...
There is? I've been searching for something like that for many moons now. I've read a few works about art and critiquing, and countless "Criteria for Judging" in juried shows ... And I haven't found anything remotely coherent/ objective yet.
Could you share it with us?
Ed Sukach, FFP.
It does for me. Just as soon as I pop the top off the JOBO tank in the darkroom and see the print.
Originally Posted by GaussianNoise
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Originally Posted by Andy K
Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
constant maybe...but not continuous and not instant and does that sort of feedback really concern the aesthetics? or just the technical?
I can see your point about "if it pleases me, then it's good". However, I think that pleasing yourself and producing art are not necessarily the same thing. I think that Art (with a capital 'A') necessarily involves interaction with humanity - even if accidentally or, posthumously. Art is in someway related to communication and like communication, instances of the class 'Art' can be judged on how effectively they communicate.
Now, I'm an mathematician and not an artist so this may all be a load of philosophical crap but, this is how I see and understand the matter.