A suggestion ...

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by samstevens, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. We all have our own way of photographing and critiquing and I want to respect that while also expressing some concern about the amount of reworking being done to photos put up for critique. (This is not the post processing challenge forum.)

    While I know a picture can be worth a thousand words and it seems somewhat more direct to show someone various suggestions rather than trying to describe them in detail, perhaps neither a picture nor 1000 words is what really works in these kinds of critiques.

    Suggesting a crop doesn't have to mean suggesting an exact crop. "A little less centered" or "a little more balanced" seems like description enough, then allowing the photographer to determine a) if it's a good suggestion and b) how to carry it out.

    I guess I don't want to be in the business of re-inventing someone else's photo for them, even if I find it wanting. I'd much prefer to think I can say something suggestive that will lead to another photographer's personal reconsideration or reworking of his photo. Sometimes, it's a critique of a photo that I feel is never going to work and my comments are meant for future shooting.

    Speaking from experience, when I was new at this I had a few more experienced photographer friends who were looking at my work and giving feedback. Never did they rework my own stuff and their comments were always more suggestive than specific, as they were more encouraging me to find my own way rather than encouraging me to see things as they would. Even when I wanted more specifics, I often wasn't given them and that benefitted me greatly and kept me free.

    Obviously I'm not trying to and couldn't if I wanted to censor anyone or step on anyone's toes. But, feeling as strongly as I do about this, I just thought I'd put it out there. The recent "Just starting out" thread was a big motivator for me. The new photographer showed a very nice start with much potential and it seems like there were attempts to specifically mold the photographs instead of more loosely and suggestively encouraging the photographer with honest reactions that would encourage him to seek a way forward for himself.
  2. I think this is the rub. Some of us are better photographers than critics. We find our critical voice in others’ photos and we can only become better critics through experience. Which is why I think someone with experience of giving critiques should be made Moderator. To refine questions, delete inappropriate comments etc.
    michaellinder, dcstep and Leslie Reid like this.
  3. Sam, another thing. Can’t you rope in all your old contemporaries from the Gallery section. I’m sure we could learn from them

    (i know many have left but there must be a few left.)
    michaellinder, dcstep and Supriyo like this.
  4. On the contrary, I feel strongly that --if you suggest some kind, any kind, of processing -- it's only fair to

    1) make an illustration of what you mean
    2) give the OP (and others) the chance to point out that your lousy post-processing suggestion completely misses the main point of the photo.

    This is, after all, primarily a photographic site.
  5. oh Fred you just can't
    thelp yourself. :)
  6. I wish there were more people like Sam on PN.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    sam - I understand your point of view. Face to face, camera club and classroom critique is a different mechanism a forum, mentioned as a preface only.

    There is a big difference between inappropriate comment and a critique supplying pictorial examples of what is meant.

    Moderators 'refining questions' is a dangerous path. refining, by definition changes emphasis, and in some cases will change meaning.

    Certainly there is a range of experience amongst us apropos the amount of and the level of critique giving we have given - I see no intrinsic downside in that: like any of the other forums, the Critique Forum is open for comment by all members and the OP can (and I think most do) appropriate what they choose useful information.

    Provided that the conversation remains civil and generally on point (that's a broad gloss of the T&C and User Guidelines), then IMO there's no need for other intervention.

  8. I don't have much more to say than I did in the OP, but wanted to respond for clarity. I agree with you and want to make sure to distance myself from any idea that the forum should be moderated differently from other forums. My suggestion had nothing to do with moderation and was just that, a suggestion I thought was worth offering. I wouldn't want it instituted as official policy.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Your response for clarity was a good idea: clarity is always a good idea in any communication.

    For the record and also for clarity, you did not need to make your opinion and point of view any clearer, to me: I understood from the outset what you meant and the well intentioned premise of the OP.

    My contribution to the conversation basically responded to your OP and to Ludmilla's equally well intentioned suggestions re Moderators' roles - and those are my personal opinions, as a Member.

    michaellinder and samstevens like this.
  10. A large part of my education and a very substantial part of my professional practice comprise aesthetic and technical critiques, both given and received. I find that effective communication of the critiquer's meaning and intent is the single biggest problem, and applying alternative, graphic representations is extremely effective, while frequently being less risky in lieu of words that might be taken as personally offensive. In architecture, even in this age of Revit and various sketching programs, the quick hand sketch on tracing paper is still an incredibly powerful, exploratory and explicatory tool. While I appreciate Sam's thoughts regarding PP'ing others' images, I would make a case that offering a limited, visual example of a meaningful change is entirely appropriate. In my own posts for critique I make it clear that alternate PP examples are both welcome and desired, as I'm always trying to improve my own application of the tools at hand. As Ansel Adams made it so abundantly clear, the darkroom and the making of the print are as essential to the final product as is the initial composition and exposure. This remains as true for digital photography as it ever was for traditional film. Perhaps even more so, as extremely sophisticated processing is readily accessible to even the rank beginner. This is not to say that I expect to "fix" images via PP. Rather, I see PP as an integral tool in the process of creating the final product, and as such it is as appropriate a topic for critique as any other part of the photographic process.
  11. Something I keep coming back to is how often the most helpful critiques I've received don't encourage me to change the photo I've already made but instead help me to move on from it in positive ways. I've been very inspired by descriptions, responses, and suggestions that move me forward.
  12. I think that's great!
    dcstep likes this.
  13. You clever sausage.

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