What are you expect from critique?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jekamobile, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. Thank you for the clarification.

    Still, I think there's plenty of room for non-realism in landscape photography as well.

    The surrealism of this photo ...

    And the hyped-up look of this photo ...

    And the hyperreal abstraction of this photo ...
    mikemorrell likes this.
  2. Sam, when I look at the picture, I ask myself: Is this possible in the real world? Does the photographer want to deliver what he saw or this is simply his fantasy and ability to employ his editing skills in the graphical editor? If I see that author wants to reflect the real-world in his image, that may drug my attention for the detailed look. If this is a low-quality photo, heavily or unskillfully edited, with unbalanced colors or badly composed, I can provide my feedback if I asked for it.
    Thank you for the pictures. They are all great. Same question to you about reality in this photo. I am pretty sure WOW content went off the scale here. What do you think?


    And, this is one of my favourite photos from my friend:
    Небоскребы Гренландии
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  3. What I think about reality and photos is that when it matters, it matters, and when it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. This goes for any genre, including landscape.

    If I sense someone is going for a sense of realism and has not achieved it, I will critique accordingly. If I sense someone is going for something other than realism, I will critique accordingly. If I can’t tell, I would likely say so.

    Is the photo you posted yours? We’re not supposed to post photos that aren’t ours. We’re supposed to LINK to any photo we didn’t create. I won’t address that specific photo until you let me know if it’s yours or not.
  4. No, it is not mine. It was sent to me by someone with the same question. I will delete this.
  5. Critique is a challenge, yes. BUT one can give opinions and so forth, according to whatever their base of knowledge (on the subject of photography, in this case) is. If I'm critiquing a photo, I do my best to look really hard at the photo and give my best opinions on THAT photo. I don't take the time to make any effort to see what the photographer's general style is. Although sometimes I am aware of what the person might normally do, that's not always the case.

    For my own part, I've followed and liked numerous photographers over the years but have never studied photography or art. I have limited knowledge of and some rough ideas about composition, compositing, digital and film, AND I know what I like and don't like when I see it. You can read probably all of my critiques here, to see for yourself what it is I've done thus far, but nobody ever called me out for my lack of ability to get a point across.

    I think, tho, that one danger zone in critiquing is being unnecessarily hard on somebody. Writing a critique should be an exercise in objectivity. One thing I had to do initially was stop myself from turning a critique into an apples for apples kind of thing where I might compare what a photographer has done with what I might have done. To me that would be arrogant, as if to say, well YOU did this but I do that. Pretty sure nobody here is doing that, and if they are they're gentle about it, offer examples and reasons for what they've said, and are not beating their chest like an alpha ape over it. It's my personal opinion that those who critique photos here on this forum do a great job. Some are more succinct than others, but every critique I've gotten has had something in it for me.

    The point is, and I think Sam made the point well by posting links to varying photos, is that there are so many different types of photographs and photographic styles. Maybe you like s something and maybe you don't, but if asked to critique a shot you don't necessarily like, you should still be able to separate your dislike from the equation and offer an honest critique. Along the way, you might surprise yourself, and find things about the photo that you do actually quite like. Even if you don't like the photo as a whole.

    In this way, being able to deliver a critique makes it an opportunity to learn and grow and expand, for the critiquer, as well as for the person who submitted the photo.
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  6. +1 :):):)
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  7. [QUOTE="if asked to critique a shot you don't necessarily like, you should still be able to separate your dislike from the equation and offer an honest critique. Along the way, you might surprise yourself, and find things about the photo that you do actually quite like. Even if you don't like the photo as a whole.][/QUOTE]
    I am not going to argue with what you said. But, my point is: the critiquing is not about how I like or dislike the photo - in reverse, I try to provide a candid (with no emotions) and honest feedback - and not necessarily on bad photos - very often I can tell what I would change in a good one (for the majority of viewers). I am very demanding то my own photos and more critique reviews I get, the better for me - I listen. That is why, personally, I am often sceptical to WOW reaction on my "Okay" photos I posted.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  8. I don't think I've ever submitted a photo for critique here. By far the most photos I take these days are (voluntarily) of people and events for publication/distribution by local organisations. I generally don't have permission to publish those photos myself. And most of them aren't very interesting anyway :). But I could request critique for more photos than I do and I'll try to do this more.

    I do try to give constructive critique when requested by other members. When giving critique, I'm just giving my own personal feedback along that of others. I think we all
    try to give constructive feedback that we hope will help requesters in some way.

    Just speaking for myself, there are photos I (subjectively) like more and photos I like less. My guess is that members who critique photos implicitly or explicitly apply varying 'criteria' with varying priorities.The big advantage of this for requesters is they feedback from a wide range of perspectives.

    I try to focus on what I (subjectively) I like about each and every photo: the 'strong points'. And explain why and what I see as 'strong points'. Sometimes, I offer suggestions as to what- for me personally - would make (or have made) the photo even better. Again, I try to explain why I make these suggestions.

    FWIW, PN is IMHO the best photo platform for asking for - and getting - considered critiques. Other platforms on which 'critiques' are often limited to 'like', Great Shot!' 'Wow! or 'Love this!' don't help photographers learn much at all.
  9. As Mel Brooks wrote "after the birth of the artist came the afterbirth, the critic" :) - in a learning environment critiques can be very useful if given and taken appropriately. Yes, everyone has an opinion, but a well thought critique could bring to light something the author may have missed or not even thought about. So, I would say expect nothing and everything, but take it accordingly.
  10. When I want a critique, I would go to photographers who's work I know of and respect and I believe to have high standards. Just for the issues the O.P. raises. As much of the photography here on Photo.net doesn't rise to that level, including my own. I don't seek critiques here. But I'm always open and appreciative of anything anyone says about a photo of mine. Like anyone else, I enjoy compliments, but that's not always the best way to learn.

    Some people here are very knowledgeable, but generally beginning and for want of a better word, intermediate photographers. For critiques, I think people here would do better to take a real photo class at a real photo school or department at a school where the department has a culture of high photographic standards and critiquing is part of every class project. Just to get used to the idea of people talking about photos in a situation where it will be held up high standards is useful. As important as receiving a critique is to know how to critique. I never was very good at it, but I learned a lot from teachers who were. Not only about the technical part, but what a photo says and how to effectively make a photo more effective in that.

    I don't hold critiques here to the same standard because the people in a photography department are really looking at photography as a career or semi-professional involvement and expect the most critical evaluation of work. Here, we are a social website sharing a passion, but its not the same photographic culture as in a program. Still people here give some really good advice on photos and processes. I find people here tend to look to find value in a photograph, and that's good. But for true critique, I wouldn't rely on P.net. If you want to get an idea of what a real photographic critique looks like. Go to the Magnum Photo sight and check out their portfolio review, which any photographer can have. If you are interested in critiquing, that's a good place to get an idea of it.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
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  11. I understand and agree with this advice, but only to an extent and only considering the kind of critique I'm looking for.

    I'll say that the most helpful critiques I've received have been from just this kind of source, photographers I know of and respect. But, some very important secondary critiques I've received have come from a painter and a poet I also know and respect, who come at photography from a different, but important, angle.

    And some very consequential critiques I've received have come from laypeople who didn't even know they were giving me a critique. Just typical viewers' honest reactions and responses, the questions they ask about my photos, the things they seem interested in or to focus on, the adjectives they use, that are not particularly "photography"-oriented, have been extremely helpful in my being able to step back from my own work and adopt different perspectives on it. There can be advantages in getting more and less naive takes on your work to see what it's expressing/communicating not just to "experts" but to the average viewer as well.
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  12. My thanks for mentioning the magnum website. For whatever reason, it hasn't been one that I've regularly visited. I will from now on.


  13. Th e PN critique forum might be more accurately reflected by reading it as impressions & suggestions. Minimal resemblance to a 'pro' critique. These are casual observations on PN with very limited interactions, dialogue. It has a place with benefits and obvious limits in a fast pace social media niche (for 1 or a few photos). But not to be confused with meeting the standards, expectations & potentially huge benefits of an in depth critique or analysis of a stand alone photo or body of work.
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  14. I have reservations about this. The principle is self-defeating because of limitation. "Higher standards" restricts innate human response from humanity at large, which is not a good thing, but leads to an incestuous culture.
  15. Every profession has standards. I'm not sure I see how demanding excellence in a professional program is restricting "innate human response" what ever that is. Any human can respond to anything the way they do. I'm just pointing out differences in the way we discuss photographs here and the way we discussed them in school. Is there some fundamental value to an "innate human response"? Violence is an innate human reaction as is greed, love, joy etc etc. Certainly discussing that in a photograph is often part of a critique from where I came from. Standards refer to not just what is elicited, but how its achieved visually and photographically and the success or failure to achieving the expression in the photograph.
  16. PN is made up also of non-professional photographers who aren't using professional standards as a guide. I thank and applaud you for bringing up something as important and elegant as the Magnum reviews. They will interest and benefit many. But it's not unreasonable to also note that it simply doesn't apply to many here, who are looking for something else entirely.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  17. 1. 'Standards' can too often degrade to specifications.
    2. An expert is: i) a drip under pressure ii) one who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
    Having indulged and dispensed with my flippancy...., a good photo is one which achieves the photographer's intent. A illustration of assembly/disassembly in a technical manual has merit if it shows the procedure....
    But that aside, photos contributed for and receiving critique are in a different basket. We are all are subject to a flood of images and only moved to comment for specific reasons -- usually (maybe I stand to be corrected?) something particular. That something is a connection that triggers a response. I quote/paraphrase Jay Maisel in one of his video interviews "if your photo doesn't excite you, why should I bother with it?" His (as far as I know, maybe he borrowed it) concept of gesture - identifying what the photo is about, and transmitting it, makes it work. Now for sure, this comes from great vision and familiarity with visual principles honed to the nth degree.
  18. Flippancy notwithstanding, you still made a point to post it.

    So, as a counterpoint, with a bit of flippancy myself ...
    Expertise is often worth respecting ... and can too often be undervalued and rejected ... especially these days .. where incompetence and flim flam is more often lionized. [Funny, my spell-checker originally turned flim flam to film flam!]
    It’s not always the photos per se that move me to comment in PN’s critique forum. I’m usually moved by a desire to acknowledge and constructively support and criticize the photographer who has the guts to post a photo and ask for critique.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
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  19. Also ...
    "I have meant what I have done. Or – I have often meant what I have done. Or – I have sometimes meant what I have done. Or – I have tried to mean what I was doing."
    —Jasper Johns
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
    Wayne Melia likes this.
  20. true dat. the danger i fear is how it is defined or measured. compliance with rules is futile; objectivity is (maybe ?) impossible.
    I suspect that what I regard as expertise is regarded as incompetence or flim flam by others, and vice versa; rendering all critiques mere personal reactions.
    It is fun to analyse my own reaction to identify what elements I am reacting to, and the technique that produces it.

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