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  1. #11
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    I was told once by a respected photographer to never ask a photographer what he thinks of your work... They can only tell you how THEY would have done it different. They are telling you about their photograph NOT yours.

    As has been said earlier, your vision is the sacred vision. You must grow and learn to see better -- with each roll of film.

    I took some pictures into a gallery not really expecting much more than some insight from a gallery's point of view. All I got was "you're not edgy enough". This from an about 26 yr old Art School Grad. Well I did learn I'm not edgy.

    I have put up one photo in the APUG critique gallery and every response was to the point and very helpful. I haven't submitted the new version because on my monitor at least, you can't really see whats different. But the point is I provided an intent to the photo that wasn't happening.

    Perhaps it would be a better critique if the intent were made of what that vision was all about. Why did I even bother to point my camera at that subject. What was I thinking, what was I seeing. It would probably make us all better at that vision thing if we tried to articulate it in words.

  2. #12
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    When I started this, I expected a lot of energy-filled replies. To tell the truth, APUG is the first, and so far, only forum where I would expect any sort of coherent discussion ... and I have not been disappointed.

    I struggled with my first post. Much of it was condensed, many thoughts were omitted. - So I'll continue -"Thoughts from the back of an envelope style":

    Many critics (no, not ALL) make the assumption that the "submitter" does not know that "Every work is imperfect - and can be improved."

    Possibly there are some of "those" out there - so far I haven't found any of them. Every photographer I know - at every stage of developement - has been infused with a burning desire to improve... at least until the critics hell-bent on defending or "improving the art" get to them.

    Do any of you identify with this?:

    I am struck with an inspiration ... and photograph... with the myriad decisions of film selection, compositon, exposure. To the darkroom - devlop, select the image, print... and evalute the results. The first print ... well, not bad, but ... I could really use more contrast, and a little less printing exposure. Another print, another evaluation. Somewhat better... but, if I dodge here, and burn the upper right corner for ten seconds more.... and so it goes.
    After fifteen or twenty prints (it has happened) I'll force myself to stop. Spreading out the prints on a table, I'll agonize for a while, do a great deal of introspection and soul-searching ... and finally decide on which print "works" best. From there, I'll make an 11" x 14" or 16" x 20" "exhibition print.

    The chosen configuration was number 4. Number 3, dodged and burned for ten seconds in the upper right corner, simply did not "work" for me, using *MY* vision, *MY* biases, whatever those internal mechanisms I have deep inside my being (no, I DON'T understand them).

    Now, to the gallery.

    Invariably, some critic, most often unsolicited, with the zeal of a crusader, will say something like, "You know, you have to (note the imperative) dodge here, and burn the upper right corner for ten seconds to make this "worth anything".

    I've found that, usually, it does no good to try to argue this out. To describe "my vision", and try to rationalize the process simply takes too much energy ... and to tell the truth, although I've tried, I've never succeeded.

    Possibly I should include, under my print, my darkroom wastebasket, with the nineteen rejected prints as some sort of defense against the label "slacker"?

    At least to SOME extent am I not justified in thinking (I always try to be poilite) "Oh yeah? This is MY work. If you think you can do better, go out a take your own damn photograph -"

    Your comments?

    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  3. #13
    lee
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Feb 12 2003, 06:03 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    Now, to the gallery.

    Invariably, some critic, most often unsolicited, with the zeal of a crusader, will say something like, &quot;You know, you have to (note the imperative) dodge here, and burn the upper right corner for ten seconds to make this &quot;worth anything&quot;.

    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Hi Ed,
    You need to find a different set of galleries to hang out in. Just kidding&#33; I agree with what you have said. The thing you must do is made the print the best you can do and SO PERFECT that there can be no critique. That may not be possible, I don&#39;t know. I just thought of that. I have always thought that really the only things I can control is how I live my life (and that has a set of hobbles on it too) and what sees the light of day from my darkroom. I explained that to a couple of guys in LA one time and it was like a light going on. They were showing everything in an informal critique that asked that I do. They thought they weren&#39;t any good because there were some clunkers in the portfolios. I explained that EVERYONE has those but some of us CHOOSE not to include those in the portfolio. I was pretty stunned when they reacted like that.

    lee&#092;c

  4. #14

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    We&#39;ve all done that, making print after print, trying to get it just right. We have all made clunkers. Back when I had a lot more patience, it was not unusual to spend an entire day to make just one print. It was educational, and some nice prints came out of it. Maybe not perfect, but they were pretty darn good for a beginner. Since this was a darkroom in the hobby shop on an Army base, it was easy to get advice from other people, to see examples of what they were telling me, and to actually see how they did it. The whole situation was very casual and laid back, with none of that "do it my way" attitude. None of it even felt like a critique. It was just like going to school, but without paying tuition. Compare that to some of the "critics" who just want to take potshots, and never show their own work. It&#39;s a bit different. You have to wonder too, if many criticisms are just based on whtever is "in fashion at the moment". Right now it is fashionable to slam any and all "rocks and trees" photos as being trite or "it&#39;s been done already". At one time it was fashionable to slam the F64 type photos for being too sharp. Before that, the pictorialists got slammed. Right now, the fashion seems to be deliberately "edgy" (whatever that means) or grossly oversharpened photos. Personally, I have better things to worry about than unsolicited "attacks", like keeping the bills paid and food on my table.

  5. #15
    frank's Avatar
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    I&#39;ve belonged to a few photo clubs and done the monthly competion thing with judges scores and comments. It was like reading photography magazines (the popularist kind, not the darkroom/fine print kind). They are both helpful up to a point in a photographer&#39;s development/evolution, but then at some point you already know everything the photo mags are saying, and you find yourself disagreeing with judges&#39; remarks. At this point you&#39;re more or less on your own on your own spiritual/sacred photographic journey. It&#39;s like when being on an organized bus tour of a foreign country is no longer what you&#39;re looking for. You are looking for your own road, not anyone elses.
    Great thread&#33;
    Frank
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  6. #16
    Aggie's Avatar
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  7. #17
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    Well, I&#39;ve come to the conclusion critics do not define art, artists define art. Can someone show you a shortcut (dodge here/burn their)? No. There is no short cut. Only you know where to dodge and burn. Could a critic make you wealthy, probably.

    I think there are two reasons to make photographs; one is because you gotta and the other is to make money.

    Any of us can work in a Mall and take baby pictures for a living but I doubt many of us would make a comparable living trying to make art. But those who do sure must be proud, and rightfully so.

    It&#39;s soul searching today and looking at yesterdays efforts and realizing "I got better today because yesterday I sure sucked." No critic is going to warm your soul like looking back and realizing you&#39;ve grown in your vision; perhaps the old vision was met when you weren&#39;t looking and another, more grand vision is in front of you. Just gotta keep pushing that boulder up the mountain.

    Well, I&#39;m rambling now, talk soon...

    Bruce (who is not edgy enough)


  8. #18

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    Bruce,
    You have expressed my sentiments as well. If one is going to march to anothers drum beat then where does self expression enter? If economics or the accolades or criticism of others are one&#39;s sole motivation, in my view, those are ego driven attempts at self gratification. Those are fine if one realizes that they are selling themselves in that way, but I promise that this will leave one feeling empty and unfulfilled.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  9. #19

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    You have to do what YOU want, not what some professor says. You already have a vote of 2 to 1 in favor, if that really matters to you (it shouldn&#39;t). One said you were great, the other wants you to teach him. So what is "too pedestrian"? That sounds awful vague to me. Is it like "not edgy enough"? Blah. If that was the "critique" I would just blow it off, shine it on. It is an absolutely useless remark. What about the log? Do you leave it in or kill the tree? Leave it in. Assuming you are an amateur like me, the best advice I can give is this.... Look at other people&#39;s work, take from it the lessons and things you like or aspire to, and discard the rest. Don&#39;t be too shy once in a while to tell yourself "Damn I&#39;m good".

  10. #20

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Bruce (Camclicker) @ Feb 12 2003, 02:36 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Well, I&#39;ve come to the conclusion critics do not define art, artists define art. Can someone show you a shortcut (dodge here/burn their)? No. There is no short cut. Only you know where to dodge and burn. Could a critic make you wealthy, probably.

    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Absolutely right.....those who can do, those who can&#39;t critique.

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