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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 06 Sep 2013 (Friday) 14:11
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Anonymous Criticisms of Photos?

 
oaktree
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Sep 06, 2013 14:11 |  #1

Just finished reading a thread started my rsieminski asking "is good photography and lighting dead?" The major point is that the general public now as a much lower appreciation/knowledge of what a good photo is and, thus, accepts almost all photos as "good". As I was reading the thread, it hit a nerve about all of us in these photo forums.

There are many opening posts that end in "comments and criticisms accepted." The C&C usually include (1) Great capture!, (2) I like #2. (3) You have a good eye!. Never have I read, (1) They all look like snap shots, (2) Your photos are sharp, but they show nothing else, (3) Open your eyes! There's a tree coming out of your mothers head!. Have we all become like the general public and now cannot tell a good photos from a bad one?

I know that highly critical comments will get one tossed from the forum, but how can we become better photographers if everyone says how good we are when most of us know we aren't?

So, I was wondering if there's a way to have a subsection in this (and other forums) where anonymous criticisms can be given to photos? If this can be done, then we might get honest opinions from other posters and, hopefully, advice about how to improve our skills.

We have many very skilled photographers in all forums. It would be great if we can get access to their knowledge on "how good are my photos?" To be able to do this, the OP must have a thick skin to accept any C&C as constructive and the responders to the OP should make constructive C&C and not make fun of the OP.

Can such a thing be done?


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HiepBuiPhotography
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Sep 06, 2013 14:18 |  #2

You haven't read my C&C then :lol: I never give the "great shot!" comment (unless the photo is absolutely flawless, which is rare). I try to give as much critique as possible. I don't think having anonymous critique will do us any good. What's there to be afraid of? I think the problem is the majority of the people on this forum are beginnings. And there's nothing wrong with that!


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KirkS518
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Sep 06, 2013 14:57 |  #3

This has been discussed before in a number of threads.

I do see a large percentage of pointless comments like you are referring to, but there are plenty of folks (myself included) who have no problems pointing out issues with a photo when C&C is asked for. I have a bad habit of even pointing them out when they aren't asked for. :D

I think some of it has to do with people not wanting to hurt the feelings of the OP. I also think that may forum readers/members feel that their work isn't that great, and they shouldn't be saying anything less then wonderful about other's work. There is also the concern by some that others will disagree with their (negative) opinion, in which they think they'd be made to look like a bad person. The key to good negative critique is to also give a reason why, or a suggestion on how it would be improved, and some people may not feel comfortable giving advise/guidance. It's also a whole lot easier to just say 'Great shot', then to explain the reason for the not so positive reply.

Personally, I think my critiquing skills exceed my photography skills. An art critic doesn't have to know how to paint, but has the ability to recognize a good painting/sculpture. Most critics also have a basic understanding of art. I'm not afraid to go against the grain when 17 posts say 'great shot', when in fact, it isn't. I figure people are here and asking because they want an honest opinion, whether or not it agrees with their opinion, so I say what I feel.

Although, when I come across a picture that is so far from being called a photograph, I usually don't say anything, simply because (IMO) if the OP thought that was good enough to post here, they probably won't gain much by a true critique. This is particularly true in my case when it's a new member, and it's a snapshot of their kid's birthday party (or something similar).

As for a section of anonymous critiquing, it would be a disaster. It would end up in name calling, insults, derogatory posts, etc., and we'd end up with most people getting banned or sus[ended, hence, no more forum. :)


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Luckless
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Sep 06, 2013 15:03 |  #4

In my view lines like "Great shot!" are useless, especially if the photo is good, and not merely when it is applied to a less than great photo.

Why is it great? What elements of it did you enjoy? What effect did it have on you?

But honestly good photography is fairly easy. It doesn't take much effort to take a photo that is merely good.

Good however, is not the goal. At least not for me. I want my photos to be great, to be epic, to be something truly memorable. Maybe after another 20 years or so of practice, experimentation, and travel I'll find something that I feel will meet my minimum expectations.


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airfrogusmc
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Sep 06, 2013 15:07 |  #5

oaktree wrote in post #16273777 (external link)
Just finished reading a thread started my rsieminski asking "is good photography and lighting dead?" The major point is that the general public now as a much lower appreciation/knowledge of what a good photo is and, thus, accepts almost all photos as "good". As I was reading the thread, it hit a nerve about all of us in these photo forums.

There are many opening posts that end in "comments and criticisms accepted." The C&C usually include (1) Great capture!, (2) I like #2. (3) You have a good eye!. Never have I read, (1) They all look like snap shots, (2) Your photos are sharp, but they show nothing else, (3) Open your eyes! There's a tree coming out of your mothers head!. Have we all become like the general public and now cannot tell a good photos from a bad one?

I know that highly critical comments will get one tossed from the forum, but how can we become better photographers if everyone says how good we are when most of us know we aren't?

So, I was wondering if there's a way to have a subsection in this (and other forums) where anonymous criticisms can be given to photos? If this can be done, then we might get honest opinions from other posters and, hopefully, advice about how to improve our skills.

We have many very skilled photographers in all forums. It would be great if we can get access to their knowledge on "how good are my photos?" To be able to do this, the OP must have a thick skin to accept any C&C as constructive and the responders to the OP should make constructive C&C and not make fun of the OP.

Can such a thing be done?


Well the problem with the internet is, especially for new photographers, you can get comments that are just flat out wrong. I have been told that I should crop out some of the most important visual elements or to do things that go against the intent of the image.

Many people also do not want to really hear that their work looks like everyone else's or that it's not a very strong image. You are right that there is far to little talk about things beyond the mechanics of the photograph. Basis f/stops, shutter speeds or basic compositional elements. Very little about content or if the visual elements are supporting the visual statement. Susan Sontag wrote about some about this in her book on photography in the late 1970s. Not much has changed except a lot more images are being made.




  
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John37
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Sep 06, 2013 15:31 as a reply to  @ airfrogusmc's post |  #6

Based on my experience, it's not a matter of being too harsh or too giddy. It's been a matter of lack of critique overall, especially at POTN, unfortunately. I usually get 1 to 3 replies (if any), with well over a 100 views. Sometimes I get actual (useful) feedback. Other times, not so much. Though I like to hear, "nice shot", I very much appreciate the replies that pick it apart and point out things that I didn't (or wouldn't have) catch.

Having said that, there are many people here that are new, newish, not so new and not new at all to photography. If someone brand new picks apart a photo (and knows not what he or she is talking about), it is better feedback just because it's annonymous? I think if someone gives feedback we should be able have a way to assess their qualifications to be able to give that feedback, so we can decide if the feedback is worthy.


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NCSA197
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Sep 06, 2013 16:48 |  #7

Browsing through the various forums here shows many nice, some good, and a few great photos. Yes, sometimes the image has little to recommend it. Not many are downright awful. Likewise, there are a few people who give great critiques and offer ideas that would improve the picture, as well as encouragement.
The criticism is less an issue than is the lack of courtesy offered to the contributor. The picture may not deserve a wonderful review, but the person posting deserves courtesy. Far too many of our fellows here are quite rude when commenting. It would be nice to see that change....


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onona
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Sep 06, 2013 18:10 |  #8

I hate fanboy posts. People either post them because they're clueless, or because they want to be popular on the forum, and sadly there's a lot of the latter, in particular, around here. The result of a lot of sycophantic behaviour and Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

Give praise where it's due, but motivate it. If I really love a photo, I'll say what it is that I like about it, instead of just posting "nice work". Explaining what you like shows the photographer what they did right, so it's a form of praise that's constructive.

Critique, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky because a lot of people don't know how to deal with it. For me personally, the few years I spent in art school taught me how to deal with it, but sadly a lot of folks have difficulty separating criticism of their work from criticism of themselves. People definitely need to grow a thicker skin if they're going to post work online.

Frankly I don't like the idea of an anonymous critique forum, as it indirectly sends out the wrong message about critique, as if it's something that needs to be pussyfooted around. People should be free to say harsh things about work, provided they're constructive.


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Luckless
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Sep 06, 2013 18:40 |  #9

I have to agree with Onona. But there are really two sides of things that people have to learn, and sadly they both seem to be very poorly taught this day and age.

1. How to take criticism. As said too many people assume that an attack on their work is also an attack on them. I majored in computer sciences at university, and only ended up with an English minor by accident, but some of the most useful classes were English lit courses where I was verbally kicked in the nuts over my work. It quickly taught me to not get mad but to step back and reanalyze
what I was working on.

2. How to give useful criticism. I rarely post responses to people's work because giving good and useful criticism is generally hard work. You have to not only evaluate what you see as a viewer, but to be really effective you have to also be able to analyze things from the creator's perspective to try and find what it is they were aiming for and how things can be changed to bring them closer to their mark, not your own.


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OhLook
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Sep 06, 2013 19:38 |  #10

oaktree wrote in post #16273777 (external link)
I was wondering if there's a way to have a subsection in this (and other forums) where anonymous criticisms can be given to photos? If this can be done, then we might get honest opinions from other posters and, hopefully, advice about how to improve our skills.

All my comments and critiques are anonymous, because I don't post my real name. (I do give honest opinions and reasons for them.) Are you suggesting that an account be created and the password given to all, so that anyone could log in and post without even being identified as oaktree or OhLook? I can see a big downside to that idea. It's too easy to abuse. Some people--a minority, but enough--would use anonymity as a license to stop being responsible for what they wrote.

Another reason to keep names attached to critiques: When I get a critique, knowing who gave it helps me estimate how worthy it is. Is this person highly experienced? Does the person do the same genre? How do his or her own photos look?

I share your view that strings of "Nice shot!" aren't much help. Some forums in particular are mutual compliment orgies. I wish people would spend more time on commenting and put more thought into it. However, I have seen comments that say these are just snapshots or a tree is growing out of your mother's head.


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Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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Sep 06, 2013 20:21 |  #11

This is a bit of a difficult issue that, as Kirk above has already pointed out, has been discussed numerous times here on POTN. The thing is that the Image Sharing section of the forum is meant for just that: to share one's images. It's not meant for criticism. Unless somebody specifically asks for it. And even then the constructive criticism is not always taken with grace. Even people who ask for brutal honesty come back at you with excuses and explanations of why they took the shot the way they did etc., being very defensing and basically refusing your criticism. So I have become very careful in what I say because you never know how people are going to react and I don't like to hurt people's feelings or to offend them.

I will also leave a "nice shot" comment without any problems. It all depends on the poster, the image, the number of comments. If there are no comments and the image sharing thread is about to go off the radar, I just say something nice to get rid of the big zero because to go to second page without a single comment is lousy.

And there is also another side to this. If you hang out in a specific forum often, you start to know the regulars and you make friends. You start to know their work, what they are after and what excites them. So, for instance, when a friend of mine in the bird forum has a lifer or a first then I am very excited for him and the quality of the shot is of less importance than the fact that he got it. And when I say "Great shot!" I'm not talking about the quality of the image, but about the fact that he was able to take it.
Or, I may say "great shot" about an image that in itself is not that great at all, but it is great for that particular photographer and marks an improvement in his or her development. So a "nice shot" or "great shot" may mean a great deal more than just what it says.

As to giving criticism anonymously is a bad idea. If you have something to say about a photograph, then say it. Like OhLook said, it's important you can look up the person giving a certain criticism to see if his or her opinions are of any value to you. I also agree with Kirk that it would result in all kinds of nasty things.

Besides, we already have a place where you can ask for genuine and honest critique: the Critique Corner!


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joedlh
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Sep 06, 2013 20:38 |  #12

I generally don't respond to photos that have lots of comments because I figure all the bases are covered. When I do comment to ones that have more or less been ignored, I say "frame it and hang it on a wall" to maybe 3% of the shots. For the rest, I offer pointers. Perhaps it's because of my habits that I don't see all those "great shot" comments about which you're complaining. I don't agree that anonymous critiques will improve the situation, except to encourage negative trolling. If you have an honest opinion, you should be willing to sign your name to it.


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Luxornv
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Sep 07, 2013 16:41 |  #13

I have gotten a comment, "There's nothing interesting in these photos" on one set I posted here a while back.


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tonylong
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Sep 07, 2013 21:55 |  #14

Luxornv wrote in post #16276863 (external link)
I have gotten a comment, "There's nothing interesting in these photos" on one set I posted here a while back.

Yeah, we do see those comments pop up once in a while.

I'm not "big" on C&C, but when I do post a shot I try to say "something" about what I find interesting! If then someone disagrees, Oh Well! Thanks for (not) contributing:)!


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Anonymous Criticisms of Photos?
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