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  1. #1
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    This is a subject that I have been kicking around in my mind for many moons now.

    I'm going to put my thoughts up as "Fair Game" for discusson.

    I believe that the "vision" of each and every photographer is SACRED, and as such is not open to modification in any form. The reason - quoting:

    "A photographer's main instrument is his eyes. Strange as it seems, many photographers choose to see through the eyes of another photographer, past or present, instead of their own. Those photographers are blind."

    Manuel Alvarez Bravo
    Mexico City, 1986


    What Bravo labels as "seeing through the eyes" I call "vision." That vision is the underlying stimulus that sets the photographic process in motion - we CHOOSE to make the photograph. We "see" the image we wish to capture (whether or not we have staged it), select the tools, compose it, trip the shutter, etc.

    The decision to act is, to me, sacred, and If I try to exert influence on the photographer through critique, I am trying to make him "see through MY eyes", and therefore I am *blinding* him.

    When I post a critique, I can only report on *MY* reaction to the work. I can only report a very subjective introspection into the way the photograph has affected my emotions. I won't even come close to assuming that my "vision" is the "right" one - certainly there is no coherent conclusion I can make to support that idea. I'm no "better" than anyone else.

    The reactions of a body of critics are useful to some *minute* level - However, I really do not think that it should be anything like a primary moving force in my, or anyone else's future work.

    APUG has been wonderful in the way photographs have been critiqued - I can't see any of the pettyness, ego bashing, or pompous posturing infecting some of the other sites in the web world.

    Submitting a photograph for critique takes a certain amount of courage - it is a lot like dropping your pants in fron of an audience. Instead of darts and barbs directed to the person of the photgrapher, all the comments I've read here are concentrated on the image. In considering the emotional responses here, I've been able to shift my viewppoint of some of my own work, and add to some of the peception "tools" I use.

    Significantly, we here on APUG have the courage to write in our critiques, "Damn - I LIKE this - and I wouldn't change a thing." where it is appropriate.



    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  2. #2
    Aggie's Avatar
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  3. #3

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    A thoughtful critique can be useful. Someone might say "I like this but how about a different crop" or they might suggest more/less contrast. That's OK. It can be constructive. If they just say it stinks or you stink, then it isn't worth reading. If they say they like it, that is good because everyone likes and needs encouragement. Even better is if they say why they like it. I haven't critiqued anyone here. Maybe it is because of who they are. Who knows? Critiquing a Michael Smith, Jim Galli or Ed Buffaloe for instance would be uncomfortable for me. But there is at least a balance of sorts. Too many places I've seen only have negative critiques and no positive ones. It's all opinion.

  4. #4

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Feb 10 2003, 02:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    APUG has been wonderful in the way photographs have been critiqued - I can&#39;t see any of the pettyness, ego bashing, or pompous posturing infecting some of the other sites in the web world.


    Significantly, we here on APUG have the courage to write in our critiques, &quot;Damn - I LIKE this - and I wouldn&#39;t change a thing.&quot; where it is appropriate. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I agree with the first part 100% OTOH personally I don&#39;t need to be stroked I need all the little faults that I might ignore pointed out. It&#39;s critical for a reason. Don&#39;t call me an idiot but that doesn&#39;t mean you can&#39;t honestly point out my failings. If I ever manage something worth being looked at then don&#39;t be shy.

    Maybe I&#39;m old school but everything can be improved and that&#39;s the reason behind asking for some one to offer an opinion.

  5. #5

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    First, if somebody ever posts a request for a critique looking for a "Gee, you&#39;re a photographic god," he needs his head examined. You should always have a purpose when posting something for a critique other than looking for acclaim. When I ask for a critique, I&#39;m usually specific about what I&#39;m looking for so the people critiquing the work can help out. Some of my common themes are:

    1. I like/dislike this. What do you think? In this case, I will critique my own work, state why I like/dislike it, and ask for other opinions and reasons. It helps me to see the work in a different light.

    2. This didn&#39;t quite come out like I wanted. I was trying for XXX but got YYY. What could I have done differently?

    3. I took picture X thinking that it would be nice but also took Y because just to see what it would look like. X didn&#39;t work but Y did. Which do you prefer? Why? How could the other have been better?

    Obviously, these are pretty generic themes but they provide guidance to the person critiquing my photograph. They know what I was trying for, what I think, and can provide a thoughtful analysis of what they think. If they choose to offer something different or in addition to what I&#39;m askinf for, great, that&#39;s a bonus.

    And, most importantly, DON&#39;T TAKE CRITIQUES PERSONALLY. If somebody gets personal, they clearly shouldn&#39;t be critiquing. Contsructive criticism is what we look for.

  6. #6

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    I am always uncomfortable critiquing others work. Sure sometimes it can be helpfull to give some input on cropping or exposure or lighting. Maybe give some advice on composition. But I wonder what if Robert Frank or Lee Friedlander or jack Dykinga (sp) other famous potogs posted as unkowns. I can see it now, a post by one E. Smith of "Tomoko and Her Mother" ( the famous photo of the mercury poisoned daughter being bathed).

    Many critiques would say:

    Need to show more detail in the shadows&#33;

    - You seem to have used only a single overhead light, perhaps a couple of additional 500W strobes would even the illumination.
    - To much contrast&#33;
    - To Much grain&#33;
    - Try to increase exposure and decrease development next time.

    On most critique sites it seems people are to concerned about technical proficiency and don&#39;t even look at what the images have to say.

    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  7. #7
    lee
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    Yeah, I am with you guys. I was in an internet print club before joining APUG.ORG. WE would send a print to everyone on the list about every quarter and then we would talk about the prints. It was a critique. The problem for me was two fold. First not everyone would critique and this is one of the reasons I got out. Second the critique always seemed to be like I would have printed it darker in this corner and I would not have used this film combo or I would have placed my camera more to the (pick one) right or left. Well, that would be YOUR photo and not mine. so, after a couple of years, I had to get loose from that. It is kinda the same thing with my local camera club and the blankity- blank competitions. Enough ramblin&#39; I am off to drink my wine and get ready for dinner.

    lee&#092;c

  8. #8

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    I never liked the idea of critiques, unless the photograph presented is that of a very new person and glaring technical faults can be pointed out to improve the shot next time I find it very hard to critique photographs by people who are experienced. As lee pointed out, there are many what if and why didn&#39;t you comments. Frankly I loose patience with this, once I am done in the darkroom the picture is exactly as I want it. If someone comments on the content, saying this makes me feel like.....fine I can live with that, but when people start telling me to print darker here, or lighter there or why are the leaves so dark?....well I just tune them out. This is the problem I saw in many clubs, people critiquing me were many times much less capable than I, so I tried to be polite but in the most part their comments were in one ear and out the other. OTOH I had the opportunity to get some commnents by a couple of well known photographers by incredible coincidence, and that was really cool. Most of the things they said were right on target and one even commented on my matting. I had done the mounting and matting and I had not burnished the edges of the matt, he simply grabbed a burnishing tool and went at it in all my prints...lol...He then said, never miss any details in your presentation, even the smallest one makes an impression....now, that to me was a lesson&#33; I like this kind of comments, where someone obviously much more experienced than I shows me some little thing that makes a world of difference.

    Recently there was a thread along the same lines in that other site, and I think Jay said it best, consider the source.


  9. #9

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    Jorge hit the nail on the head with the comment about people who know enough to give a criticism of value, maybe that is why I have shied away. I mean really, if a Carl Weese or Kerry Thalman (or a lot of others) posts a photo here, who am I to criticize? These are people I use as a point of reference, for what a print should look like, and they could rightly say to me "who the heck are you?". Their level of work is what I learn from.

  10. #10
    lee
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    OK back from dinner and rearing to go. Most people do not know how to critique content. Or they are too afraid to try it. I will admit that I have a hard time saying what I mean. Maybe that is evident after my posting all the time.&#092;


    lee&#092;c

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