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.