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  1. #21
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    "Absolutely right.....those who can do, those who can't critique. "

    Remember the old saying:

    Those that can't do it, teach it and those who can't teach it sell it.
    Bruce Osgood
    Everyone dies, so try and live a little first
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/camclicker/

  2. #22

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    Well,

    Jorge's famous last words not withstanding,

    I critique for a living. In Real Life I coach the nation's biggest talk show hosts. And while it's not photo or art critique, there is something very important that applies here.

    When you are photographing, you are expressing yourself from a very internal and deeply personal place. Or at least you'd better be. It's the place where "the voice inside your head" lives. Where "the little kid in you" still lives, the place where you hope from.

    So to critique work or expression that comes from that place is a very delicate thing. You have to make it all about making a person's strengths and brilliance shine even more, get even more light, while managing the things they're not so good at. I kind of take the approach that everyone has talent, but that everyone also gets in their own way much of the time, and my job is to highlight and focus on the talent while teaching them how to manage the rest.

    Thus, a critique isn't really about what's good and bad. It's about what's strong and could be stronger and what's not strong and should be pushed to the back a little more. Saying things like "when you expressed x over there, it was HUGE. Blows me away (and it genuinely must). So I know what it feels like to be blown away by your expression. So over here at y I don't feel the same. Howcome?"

    At the same time, you have to comment but NOT suggest unless invited to do so specifically with each comment. Otherwise, you will cause someone to start remaking their work in your image. The critiqued has to say "you're right, I see how y doesn't stand out as much as I thought. What would make it stand out more?" and THEN you offer suggestions.

    In my experience, most other methods of critique are either too harsh, too gratuitous, or too likely to make someone strive to please you rather than strive to be better with or without you.

    FWIW.

    dgh

    David G Hall

  3. #23
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David Hall @ Feb 13 2003, 07:14 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    Thus, a critique isn&#39;t really about what&#39;s good and bad.

    At the same time, you have to comment but NOT suggest unless invited to do so specifically with each comment. Otherwise, you will cause someone to start remaking their work in your image. The critiqued has to say &quot;you&#39;re right, I see how y doesn&#39;t stand out as much as I thought. What would make it stand out more?&quot; and THEN you offer suggestions.

    In my experience, most other methods of critique are either too harsh, too gratuitous, or too likely to make someone strive to please you rather than strive to be better with or without you.

    FWIW.

    dgh </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    It is worth a LOT&#33;&#33;

    Excellent post, dgh.

    I couldn&#39;t agree more.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  4. #24
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Aggie @ Feb 12 2003, 10:14 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I just had a critque of sorts yesterday.&nbsp; There are three professors at the college I do my work at.
    ...&nbsp; Of the latest work I have been doing, one said," You are doing the best work I have ever seen.&nbsp; Keep it up."&nbsp; The next had this to say, " I wish I knew pyro, would you teach me."&nbsp; The third and the one I usually listen to,...</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Aggie,

    I view one aspect of art as being a sort of non-standardized Rorschach Ink Blot test.

    As each of us will perceive different images in ink blots, we wil perceive - interpret - each piece of art differently. I don&#39;t know of any "right" answers - and I seriously doubt that there COULD be any critique that is totally - or even reasonably - objective.
    This is why I have said that I see critiques as primarily a definintion of the perception, and derivatively, the "being" of the CRITIC - far more than they are indicative of the merit of the work.

    I&#39;ve developed a system - or, more properly, in listening to a number of critics, a system has developed within me - to handle the wide variety of "interesting comments". I can&#39;t internalize all of them - many of them are conflicting - and I DO NOT want my work to be anything resembling the product of random motion.

    You might consider this:

    First - I will LISTEN to each and every critique. I have worked on disciplining myself to listen - no matter how arrogant, elitist, domineering, posturizing, socially inept, ... even vicious .... the critic. I will asume that all are clean, fair and genuinely trying to help. Yeah, I know - Polyanna and all - but it serves the purpose.
    As an aside, not much discipline is required here on APUG.

    Second - I will consider - evaluate the citicism for three or four seconds. That should be enough time to determine whether of not there is anything of value. The "good insights" as rare as they are, are not difficult to recognize - they seem to strike as a bolt out of the blue. Man... what a KICK it is to discover one of these&#33;

    Third - If there is something of value, I wil internalize it - let it drop into my preconscious, write it down if need be (although I don&#39;t, usually - the "good information is hard to forget).
    The other stuff - I let it go as though it was never said. No use cluttering up the memory banks with useless junk.

    The end product of our individual visions is STYLE. The more well-defined our vision, the clearer our style will be - and thet is far more important to me than trying to satisfy the whims and sensiblites of others.

    I just remembered a line from the song, "Garden Party&#39; by Ricky Nelson:
    "You can&#39;t please everyone, so you&#39;ve got to please yourself."

    .


    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  5. #25

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    Critiques can help anyone if their goal is better communication. However, the level of critique must match the level of artistic / photographic sophistication of the photographer.

    The critiques for a 1st year student are going to be totally different than those for an advanced photographer. Likewise, the people giving the critique must be of a level to understand the photograph and communicate to the level of the photographer.

    As a photograph is about communication it is good to have a photographer&#39;s statement about what they were trying to do with the photo. At that point, you can evaluate your personal feelings as to the success of the artistic statement and whether they were successful.

    For example, if someone is trying to make a high-key subject rendering for a certain effect, then it makes no sense to say, "I think it should be printed darker" since that defeats the artist&#39;s vision and intent. You must evaluate the artist&#39;s intent with how well the intent is communicated.

    I personally try to stay away from "drive thru" comments such as, "crop xxx way," "I&#39;d have done it this way," etc. I would rather have a dialog with the photographer and through a discussion of the photo with appropriate questions, let the photographer come to his/her own conclusion as to the success of the photo.

    I am also of the opinion that you should be able to defend your work if you really believe in it. This, for many people, is taken as being "ego" rather than a clear vision of what you wanted in a photo and whether YOU think you have been successful and why.

    I really like discussions like that. I also agree with several other people here that if you posted photos by well known photographers on most photo critique sites, they would be roundly bashed - especially those by photographers who&#39;s work is difficult or subtle.

    For example, William Eggleston&#39;s work is about ordinary, common things that escape most people as being worthy of being photographed. Therefore, the appreciation of that work is difficult because it at first appears so mundane. Eggelston would be told by most photo critique sites to come back when he learned how to take "good photos." This is a lack of sophistication and appreciation on the viewer&#39;s part because they are looking for photos that fall into certain categories that they have learned are acceptable, instead of evaluating the photos for what they are - a personal vision.

    That is the crux of the critique bisquit - learning to really LOOK at the photo. To NOT compare it to a certain photographic category; and to not have a predetermined or defined artistic value system.

    You must attempt to put aside your personal value system and evaluate a photo only on its merits alone. For a beginning or less experienced photographer this may mean explaining why you have a reaction to something with real reasons.

    For an advanced photographer this means stopping trying to "help" through suggested "improvements," but asking whether THEY feel something adds or detracts from a photo and why. It should be about establishing a dialog about the image.

  6. #26

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Feb 10 2003, 08:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>When I post a critique, I can only report on *MY* reaction to the work.&nbsp; I can only report a very subjective introspection into the way the photograph has affected my emotions.&nbsp; I won&#39;t even come close to assuming that my "vision" is the "right" one&nbsp; - certainly there is no coherent conclusion I can make to support that idea.&nbsp; I&#39;m no "better" than anyone else.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Ed,

    Although we tend to have different favors and displeasures, we do have the same roots somewhere. If I look at a red color, I can’t be sure that you perceive it exactly the same way as I do. However, it is most likely that your notion of “red” is similar to mine. The same applies to many emotional aspects. As long as you do not overemphasize things of which you know, that you have a “special” attitude/opinion/feeling, it is most likely that your critique will be understood.

    Should one impose his very personal feelings in a criticism? It depends, IMO. It depends on whether you can manage that the reader is able to develop his own attitude to your opinion. The German Philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) once said that Education is Knowledge plus one’s Attitude to this knowledge. Therefore, if you have more to tell than just wanting someone to know your opinion, you’ll have to explain how you got there. This doesn&#39;t only apply to art criticism. It applies to all reviews. Even if you stand up and say: “digital photography is the best thing since the invention of chocolate”, your opinion is welcome as long as you convince us that your view is conclusive and at the same time allow us to take a different point of view (by applying your arguments to our conception of the world).

    Formalism, although bound to the modernist view, is a strong tool to argue about a picture much the same way as to argue about camera equipment. Moreover, it is always hard to discuss something without a common notion about the semantics of the vocabulary. However, why do so many people know the concept of “Depth of Field”, but can’t argue about the concept of “negative space” in compositions?

  7. #27
    Aggie's Avatar
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  8. #28

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    It pleases me greatly to have another person indicate the courage of their convictions. "To thine own self be true".

    Regards,
    Donald Miller
    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

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