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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 23 May 2014 (Friday) 13:23
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Brutal Critiques vs Silence

 
nathancarter
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Jun 06, 2014 09:57 |  #46

Clean Gene wrote in post #16954884 (external link)
I disagree. If I'm making cakes and cookies, and everyone says that they suck, then I feel I'd be silly to ignore their criticisms just because they don't have any ideas on how to make them better. It's not the critic's job to know how to make a good cookie, it's their job to tell me that my cookies taste bland. What would make them not taste bland? Beats me, but that doesn't mean they don't taste bland.

Here's the thing...the "how to make it better" kind of criticism is highly speculative. I could say "this image would be better if you added this and took away that", but for all I know the person might have actually done that and the image was actually WORSE. In any case, when I say "it would be better this way", I'm also simultaneously giving a critique of something THAT DOESN'T EXIST. I'm comparing an existing work to something that I simply imagined in my head. And that seems arrogant as all hell, stating that something that someone ACTUALLY MADE is worse than something that I've just imagined in my mind.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with offering suggestions on what to do, but that's all they are: suggestions. I disagree with the implication that people who don't offer suggestions should have their comments dismissed outright. Suggestions can be helpful, but the real meat of criticism is "what does this say, does this image work"? And one can absolutely state that an image isn't working without having the slightest idea what it would take to get that image to work. One can absolutely say that an image's statement seems to be incoherent without actually having the slightest thing to offer in terms of what the image should say or how to say it.


Your points may be valid when you consider "art" being viewed by someone who is not a trained art critic, but I don't think they apply here.

If a person posts a photo here and specifically asks for a critique, it's generally because they want to learn or improve. Comments such as "It's just terrible" or "I don't like it," without any accompanying reasoning or suggestion, are unhelpful and don't contribute to the growth or improvement of the person asking for critique. For that matter, neither do the positive platitudes, but at least those don't break down the person's desire to continue shooting and posting.


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Steve ­ Winterton
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Jun 06, 2014 10:08 as a reply to  @ nathancarter's post |  #47

I read this thread with great interest. I recently posted a few pics in astronomy and celestial. I stated that I welcome constructive critique, had 227 views and not one comment.

Guess my pics are so good no one had any criticism. :wink::lol:

https://photography-on-the.net …hp?p=16936129&p​ostcount=1




  
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Digital ­ Story
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Jun 07, 2014 09:44 |  #48

Constructive critique is always better than silence. You learn from critique, not from silence.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Jun 08, 2014 00:57 |  #49

nathancarter wrote in post #16955464 (external link)
Your points may be valid when you consider "art" being viewed by someone who is not a trained art critic, but I don't think they apply here.

If a person posts a photo here and specifically asks for a critique, it's generally because they want to learn or improve. Comments such as "It's just terrible" or "I don't like it," without any accompanying reasoning or suggestion, are unhelpful and don't contribute to the growth or improvement of the person asking for critique. For that matter, neither do the positive platitudes, but at least those don't break down the person's desire to continue shooting and posting.

No, comments like that are terrible in any situation because they don't provide any information about the work. "It's terrible"? Well, how is it terrible? "I don't like it"? Well, that's not saying anything about the work, that's a statement about the observer.

That's just bad criticism period. I agree that those kinds of comments should be avoided, but that's also not what I was talking about. It's entirely possible to make worthwhile comments even without offering advice. The key is to actually talk about the work and discuss why it is or isn't working.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Jun 08, 2014 01:06 |  #50

PhotosGuy wrote in post #16955339 (external link)
If I see someone in Share, not Critique, with only a few threads to their name & no comments, I'll give them an encouraging "Nice shot" <bump>. Or maybe just a "Welcome to POTN!"
And sometimes a nice shot with a minor flaw will just get a "Nice shot" comment. We get new people here every day & I like to encourage them to stay. For whatever reason, some are never seen again & I think we all lose when that happens.

If three people have already said, "It's a little underexposed", I don't see any reason for me to say the same thing. If I notice something else, I might mention it, usually with something like "Nice shot, but...".

<Rant>
I've seen posts here that go on for 40 lines without a space between them. If a person doesn't care enough to make a post easier to read, why should I waste my time trying to wade through it?

How many thread titles do we see that just say "c&c please"? We're suppose to be creative, aren't we? If a person can't engage my interest with a description like "My kid on a swing", or "my dog humping a tricycle", why should I want to open it?

Then there's my personal favorite, "just a quick shot c&c please. Didn't have time to do this, Didn't have time to do that, & forgot to take my cam off ISO 3200, & forgot..."
Or the ever popular, "How do I fix this" without an image to look at?
So I think "WTH do you want from us?" But we try to discourage promoting flame wars here by not letting them start in the first place. So I just move on to see if I can offer something constructive to someone else.
<End of Rant>

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You know, you could actually let the people know what you think. That's sort of part of critiquing something. If I see an image here that I think is interesting, only takes a minute for me to tell them that their title or description isn't doing the image justice.

Not saying that you SHOULD do that. I mean, it's your time, spend it however you want. I'm just saying...that's a problem with the presentation of an image, and discussing such problems is one of the points of critiques. Hell, why not go all the way and only comment on great images? After all, if they don't want to take the time to make a good image, then why waste time commenting on it?




  
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gonzogolf
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Jun 09, 2014 09:59 |  #51

Clean Gene wrote in post #16958513 (external link)
You know, you could actually let the people know what you think. That's sort of part of critiquing something. If I see an image here that I think is interesting, only takes a minute for me to tell them that their title or description isn't doing the image justice.

Not saying that you SHOULD do that. I mean, it's your time, spend it however you want. I'm just saying...that's a problem with the presentation of an image, and discussing such problems is one of the points of critiques. Hell, why not go all the way and only comment on great images? After all, if they don't want to take the time to make a good image, then why waste time commenting on it?

I think you might be missing the point. When they build their excuse into the title of their post, they often arent looking for an honest critique. The one thing I hate about that sort of thread is when the OP ignores a valid critique while getting defensive and sometimes even hostile. I once pointed out some significant flaws in a post, the OP got very defensive, so I moved on. The guy then pretty much stalked me for a couple of weeks posting in pretty much every thread I did with some niggling disagreement or another, many on topics the guy had no interest in.




  
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Azathoth
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Jun 09, 2014 10:44 |  #52

Digital Story wrote in post #16957318 (external link)
You learn from critique, not from silence.

You learn by studying great photographers. Posting pictures on the net and wait for a critique is pointless. 99% of people knows as much or less than you. So it will only hurt you, not help you.


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gonzogolf
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Jun 09, 2014 10:50 |  #53

Azathoth wrote in post #16960960 (external link)
You learn by studying great photographers. Posting pictures on the net and wait for a critique is pointless. 99% of people knows as much or less than you. So it will only hurt you, not help you.

Perhaps if you are technically sound. But many of the critiques are requested by people who dont have a grasp of exposure, or technique.




  
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OhLook
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Jun 09, 2014 11:21 |  #54

Azathoth wrote in post #16960960 (external link)
You learn by studying great photographers. Posting pictures on the net and wait for a critique is pointless. 99% of people knows as much or less than you. So it will only hurt you, not help you.

What? When you start, 99% of people know more than you. At least, that was my experience.

There's more than one way to learn. Sometimes I learn from comments on my photos and others' here.


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Lowner
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Jun 09, 2014 11:38 |  #55

I'm on Azathoath's side. I learn by observation. I've found that studying good photographs and trying to emulate them is a fantastic learning tool.

Simply being told is just not as good for me.


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BobDawg
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Jun 09, 2014 11:48 |  #56

If I had a choice I'd pick "Constructive criticism" first, then brutal critique, and never silence. Brutal critique just opens the doors for people to be creative @-holes.


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Jun 09, 2014 17:45 |  #57

Azathoth wrote in post #16960960 (external link)
You learn by studying great photographers. Posting pictures on the net and wait for a critique is pointless. 99% of people knows as much or less than you. So it will only hurt you, not help you.

But that doesn't necessarily tell you exactly why they are great or how they achieved the images that made them great. Informed discussion will take you a lot farther toward that understanding. That is just one tool in the learning process.

Granted that sometimes you have to sort out the useful information from the chaff, but even uninformed opinions might help you determine what the average person likes or dislikes. If your goal is stock photography, that can be an important factor. Joe Average isn't going to care that you followed the rule of thirds, only that the photo strikes a positive note in him.


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Jun 09, 2014 19:23 |  #58

It's interesting, because photogs and other "creatives" who are well known and widely respected do tend to have a slew of critics, who for various reasons don't "appreciate" the work, this is pretty common in the artist/creative community, is it not?

Here's where the critique waters can become "muddy"! Sure, here in POTN we can spot a shot that is pretty underexposed or overexposed, or has some kind of "goof" with the composition, those are easy, but what if those aspects aren't bad, but we just don't appreciate the image for our own subjective reasons?

I tend to ask myself that question whenever someone posts a shot!


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Clean ­ Gene
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Jun 11, 2014 00:57 |  #59

gonzogolf wrote in post #16960907 (external link)
I think you might be missing the point. When they build their excuse into the title of their post, they often arent looking for an honest critique. The one thing I hate about that sort of thread is when the OP ignores a valid critique while getting defensive and sometimes even hostile. I once pointed out some significant flaws in a post, the OP got very defensive, so I moved on. The guy then pretty much stalked me for a couple of weeks posting in pretty much every thread I did with some niggling disagreement or another, many on topics the guy had no interest in.

Do they KNOW that they aren't looking for an honest critique? Maybe, but sometimes I think you'd be surprised. I've known some actual GOOD photographers who produce a LOT of awesome work to the extent that they put me to shame. Yet despite being serious enough to get that good, they make mistakes like getting defensive about their work before anyone gets to see it, and making excuses whenever someone points out potential flaws.

My point being...learning how to talk about work is an acquired skill just as much as making work is. Knowing what you want from your work and what you want from your audience is an acquired skill. Most people don't know this stuff. Making good images is the easy part, and a lot of people get there without learning the other stuff. That doesn't NECESSARILY mean that they don't want to get better, that might just mean that they still really don't know what the hell they actually want.

And you can call people out on this during critiques. Again, not saying that you SHOULD. It's your time and you can do what you want to with it. I'm just saying that I strongly disagree with the assumption that someone's work isn't worth a critique if they get defensive in a title or suck at talking about photographs. Those things are also worthy of critique. Titling works, attitude towards works, and ability to discuss works are also important for people who make photographs, and it's valid to critique that stuff as well. I don't like to categorically dismiss people just because they suck at one area. I might categorically dismiss someone because I'm too LAZY to open the thread or comment on how their title isn't doing the image justice, but that's a different thing. That's me not feeling like telling someone that they screwed up. That's on me, it's not their fault for screwing up. If it was a certainty that they wouldn't screw up, then that would diminish much of the point of doing a critique in the first place.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Jun 11, 2014 01:16 |  #60

Azathoth wrote in post #16960960 (external link)
You learn by studying great photographers. Posting pictures on the net and wait for a critique is pointless. 99% of people knows as much or less than you. So it will only hurt you, not help you.

It's not a binary thing. It's not "you have to do this or that." Studying great photographers helps. Posting pictures on the internet can help. Taking time off to stop doing photography and think about what issues you care about can help. Getting a good breakfast can help, watching a movie can help, you get the drift?

Also, even if 99% of photographers are worse than you and don't know as much asyou, you have to ask yourself wth you're actually gonna do with your photographs. One day you are going to die. Is your work good enough that it will be appreciated by the 1% who are better than you? Or are you just making work for people who aren't nearly as good as you? Who is your work ACTUALLY for, and what do they think about it? Keep in mind that once you've reached the top, you're BY NECESSITY displaying your work to people who are inferior to you. Do you want to cater to the 1% who are above you and feel that your work is amateurish and below their tastes, or do you want to cater to the people below you who will actually appreciate your work because they know you're better than them?

Again, I'm not saying what people SHOULD do, that's just something to think about. Some people make TVs. Sure...99% of people might know less about making TVs, but if your goal is to get your TVs to sell then you'd probably do well to have a generall idea of what the ignorant masses think about your product.




  
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