If only...

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by doug_johnson|10, May 3, 2021.

  1. If the photographer who takes the photo can be the ONLY one who knows whether they got it right or not, doesn't that relegate "critique" to "opinion" status? If I take a photo that I think is perfect, how can I be wrong?
  2. Anyone who thinks their photo is perfect shouldn't be asking for critique. You can be wrong if you think your photo is perfect and it isn't.

    Of course critique is opinion. But all opinions aren't equal, including the photographer's. Opinions often come with different backgrounds, different rationale, different experience, different explanations. If I were seeking critique, I'd likely value the opinion of someone I thought had good visual skills and some visual experience and who explained their criticisms well. Others prefer to value the opinions of people who praise their work. To each their own.

    The critiques that help me most are ones that show or tell me something about my photo I hadn't considered. Usually, that's accomplished by someone not simply offering "I like it" or "I don't like it" but by someone discussing why something works for them or doesn't work. Then I can assess whether their opinion makes sense to me.

    There's no getting it right. There's getting what you want. You may think you got ir "right" until someone makes a constructive suggestion on how you can improve it. Then you learn something about your photo you didn't know. At our level, any photographer who thinks their photography can't be improved is most likely a dolt.
    Ricochetrider, katsone and kmac like this.
  3. "At our level, any photographer who thinks their photography can't be improved is most likely a dolt."
    Who are you trying to please? Again I ask "If I take a photo that I think is perfect, how can I be wrong?" If the only person I have to please is me, and I am the only one who REALLY knows why I think it's perfect...what MY criteria is...what MY intentions were, then HOW can I be wrong?
    "You can be wrong if you think your photo is perfect and it isn't." Are you saying NO photo is perfect?...are you saying ANY photos are perfect? "If I were seeking critique, I'd likely value the opinion of someone I thought had good visual skills and some visual experience and who explained their criticisms well. " If their "visual skills" are different from yours, how could they be expected to evaluate your photograph with any degree of credibility? If you are taking the stance that there are universally accepted opinions regarding the "correctness" of any part of an art form, then I would refer you to the quote at the top of this little diatribe.
  4. Asking for a critique is asking others to evaluate. If you think it is perfect to your mind then fine stand by it but others have been asked to give their opinions and they deserve respect (unless they are being disrespectful) even in opposition of your opinion. Disrespect, trolling, baiting are usually easy enough to detect.
  5. I am not taking that stance.
    I’m taking the stance that assessing a photo as perfect, no matter who does it, is an opinion. If you assess your photo as perfect and I don’t think it is, we have expressed two different opinions. The fact that you're the photographer may give your opinion priority for you but it wouldn’t for me, nor would I give my opinion of my own photos priority over others'. It's not a competition. Photography is, in many cases, an art, and art tends to beg for different opinions and responses, no one of which is correct, but some of which seem more substantial to me than others.
    I don't think we all have the same visual skills and I think plenty of people look at things differently from me who have much credibility. I assess that based on their reasoning for their visual take on a photo. I may or may not agree, but credibility doesn't mean, for me, you have to agree with me or see it the way I do. Does it for you?
    Not only would I question a photo being perfect, I’d question anything being perfect, except God, who’s an imperfect-yet-declared-perfect figment of the imagination.
    I'm often not trying to please. For me, it's about expressing myself, communication, challenge ... things like that. I can express myself and completely understand that someone else may not get or appreciate it. That doesn't make one of us right. It means we're human.

    A question for you would be: Why is it important to you that a photographer be "right" about their own photos?
  6. "
    A question for you would be: Why is it important to you that a photographer be "right" about their own photos?" If "right" isn't appropriate for the creator of anything, then what are we left with?..."Well, I could have done better but couldn't be bothered right now"..."This isn't nearly as good as it could've been"...is that the opinion you want in your brain surgeon?
  7. You give the editor choices and they decide what is right.
  8. I didn't say 'right' isn't appropriate for the creator of anything. I said "right" isn't important to me in assessing my photos or the photos of others. Thankfully, I'm a photographer, not a brain surgeon, which gives me the luxury of not caring about "right" when it comes to photography and gives the brain surgeon the luxury of making big bucks but having to be right or risk killing their patient.
    That's not all we're left with. I can be finished with a photo and I can be satisfied with a photo without needing to feel it's "right" or "perfect." My own satisfaction with photos is often in counterpoint with some feeling of dissatisfaction, or at least imperfection, that inspires me to keep going and challenges me to expand my horizons beyond the present. I want to live being imperfect. The time for perfection and completeness is at death.

    "Perfect" is often used as a shallow superlative rather than to mean what it actually means, which is an absolute, as good as it is possible to be. When it comes to art, I find very few absolutes. When it comes to brain surgery, that's a different matter entirely. My photos will never be as good as it is possible to be, which I'm happy about, because it means I can continue to grow and to seek.

    I'm more curious than I am a perfectionist (except maybe when it comes to spelling and grammar, where I can't help myself).
  9. "I said "right" isn't important to me in assessing my photos or the photos of others".
    Then how can you say anything critical of anything?...if the photo has flaws according to you, whether yours or someone else, then at best, there is something a little wrong.
  10. Sam, before this goes any further, I want to thank you for engaging in this with me. My old brain doesn't get this kind of a workout much these days, and I appreciate you getting down in the weeds with me! Thank you!
    inoneeye likes this.
  11. Thanks for saying that. These can be eye-opening discussions.
    I can say something seems inconsistent. I can say something attracts my attention to the detriment of the rest of the photo. I can say that burned highlight seems not to work in the context of the rest of the photo. I can talk about my taste and what I do or don't like and why that's the case. I can talk about my emotional and visual responses to a photo. Those are all things I can do in a critique without thinking or speaking in terms of right or wrong.

    If I talk about something being inconsistent, I'm well aware a photographer may come back and say he's glad I saw it that way because that's what he intended. I still might not like the photo because of that, but why would I say it's "wrong" just because it doesn't work for me and because I am critical of it?

    2+2=5 is wrong.

    Photos I don't like and photos that can be improved aren't wrong. They may be works in progress or whether they can be improved or not may simply be a matter of taste, not fact. That is a good photo or I have no criticism of your photo are not facts that are right or wrong. They're aesthetic judgments.
  12. Isn't that just a polite way of saying "wrong"?
    Don't throw your shoulder out patting yourself on the back there Sam! If you are true to what you are saying, that very photo could be improved by following your instruction...something you say you would offer. Personally, all I need from an observer is "I like it!"...to me, that is the emotional response I go for. Burn this, dodge that, if only he wasn't picking his nose...well, when you stand in my shoes and are making those kind of decisions for yourself, then you can do all of those things, and THAT will be YOUR photo. Saying/suggesting you burn, dodge, crop, pull his finger out of his nose doesn't change anything...it just makes the originator of the work feel like a failure, and the person offering the critique feel superior. I don't need to do that.
  13. Where did I say I would offer instruction?

    I said I would talk about the photo, what works for me and what doesn't and why. I rarely (though I'm not ... perfect) offer solutions. I talk about my reactions and let the photographer decide if my reaction has an impact and prefer the photographer to work to figure out what to do about it if something I say strikes a chord and he wants to go back to the photo and try again.
    I thought we'd escaped this kind of b.s. in this thread. I had a feeling it was too good to be true, having read some of your other threads.
    Nothing wrong with that.

    I suggest if you put a photo up for critique, then, stating that all you want is "I like it." That will save those among us who have their own individual ways of giving critiques a lot of trouble. And, I guarantee some people will ignore you and say whatever they want.

    No one gets to control the photos others make and no one gets to control someone else's critiques.

    I love putting my photos out there and getting all kinds of responses from a variety of folks. I don't try to limit how people critique me, even though I have a particular style of critiquing that I try to practice.
  14. Doesn't that imply that had they not done that, the photo would have been better?
    Come on Sam, really?
  15. I make some very 'unlikable' photos. Not for the unlikability but sometimes I want to explore the flipside of easy to digest. That is a part of life that i choose not to pass over. To reflect.
    When a viewer doesn't like what they see I often learn a great deal from them if they explain why (most often their reasons are expected). It helps on many levels. Helps me reflect on my reasons for making an image that pulls me in but pushes others away . It helps me to understand them better. It helps refine my craft and visual language skills.

    I have never made a perfect photo but many of my best attempts are not made to be liked. So... An articulate negative response can be more useful than a 'i like it'.
  16. How would you know whether you have or not? If no one seems to know what that would consist of, then how would we know?
  17. No. Why keep reading implications into the things I say instead of taking them at face value? I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is not a competitive sport, so I tend not to think in terms of better or worse. If I point to a burned out highlight that doesn't work for me in context, I don't necessarily determine at the time or, if I do I don't necessarily share, whether the photo would integrate if the highlight weren't burned out or if some parts of the rest of the photo were also burned out as a statement. That's what I'd leave to the photographer. I'm giving a reaction, not an instruction. Take me at my word.
    Yes. Really. Don't characterize things I say by projecting that I'm patting myself on my back. It's rude and unnecessary. Deal with the substance here. Don't make personality assumptions.
  18. You can't be wrong!, if you keep it well hidden and never let anyone view it except yourself.
    samstevens likes this.
  19. Hmmmm...interesting contradiction.
  20. Shouldn't the artist know it's inevitable success/failure more than anyone else?

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