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Platitudes or Progress
Posted By: jfdavis58, 12-06-2006, 10:50 PM

There isn't a specific topic area for this question, but it pertains almost exclusively to this material: Photos.

Well, I'll live dangerously: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Are we at a crossroads?

Frankly folks, when I want gushing praise, unbridled admiration and the good old "atta boy" type comments, I go visit my mom. It doesn't matter what photo I show her, it's heaven sent. I'm her greatest and ... Well you get the picture.

From most everyone else (family) I get the typical, "that's nice". All except Beth. She tells me what she "sees" in total confidence that failing to do so will cause her much more discomfort. I'll yell, or ask if she is blind, or being stupidly funny.

And I join groups like this forum because strangers cannot hear when I yell and frankly shouldn't care. They cannot see me pacing the floor or brooding in the corner and it wouldn't matter anyway. After a while they know that my mood is darkest when I think I'm being mislead.

You see, I value honesty above fine metal or jewels. And honest friends are the only ones I truly care to have.

I'm very hard on my own photography; ninety to ninety five percent of it never leaves my desktop--it's never shown. And four of the remaining five percent can probably be improved.

At the very least we should be honest enough to say that the color is off or in the wrong space, the subject is not sharp or the presentation has one form or another of defect or artifact. Not every photo is outstanding, wonderful, beautiful or well executed, but if we label each with these descriptions then you eliminate at least one reason for me to visit my mom.

So I put it to you for consideration: Platitudes or Progress?
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12-06-2006, 10:56 PM   #2
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I just usually reply to the ones that jump out at me. w/ me, i'd rather hear the bad more than the good....makes me a better shooter

I can see where ur going at here, but..i guess ppl are just being polite...
or a lot of us just like a thing or 2 about a shot....

not everyone or everything passes...i've seen a few shots posted here that was critiqued in a bad way..I guess..or an "un-mom" like fashion....

my .01 cent
12-06-2006, 11:12 PM   #3
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Give it time. This is a relatively new forum. I think the friendliness encourages more members to join.

As for your opinions I tend to agree. I'd like to hear what's wrong w/ a photo and how it can be improved--within reason. If the critique is something that's just plain silly or mean-spirited then that's another story.
12-06-2006, 11:26 PM   #4
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Critique can be a wonderful thing, it helps us grow and mature as artists. However, you don't want a situation where people's feelings are hurt. There have been issues with certain members of other photography fora that I have been involved in.

For example, one poster's photos were referred to as 'vacation snaps' which offers nothing constructive. The poster then proceded to flame the person giving criticism...nasty scene all around.

As long as critiques are limited to technical or artistic aspects, given in a positive spirit and aren't insulting I am all for them. Heck, drop by my 'first shots with K100' thread and go to town.

12-07-2006, 12:21 AM   #5
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I don't always post critique to photos I see here. If a photo is there that I like, I tend to say so, but not always. If I don't like it, I often find it difficult to say why, I feel I am too inexperienced, just saying "I don't like it" doesn't help anyone so I don't say it. I'm no expert, as I'm sure a lot here would admit to themselves, so often I cannot offer advice even if I do recognise what I see as a flaw in a photo. So I tend not to post negative comments, though constructive criticism is what it's all about I think, we are all trying to improve.
12-07-2006, 02:29 AM   #6
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Prior to the recent developments at DPR, this was the subject of some debate. As a general rule we didn't delve into critique unless it was explicitly requested. We took to sticking the prefix [CR] on any post that wanted critique.

Myself, and I think this is true for others, is to praise those shots that are truly outstanding and not reply to those that aren't. It may not be the best system--after all how can someone get better if they don't know it's bad? Even if critique is requested, I won't go beyond technical matters like lighting, exposure, or post-processing techniques. I'd never comment on someone else's way of framing a subject or suggest that their baby is ugly (figuratively speaking).

12-07-2006, 04:51 AM   #7
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I understand where you are coming from. My question is how do I entice you and the other experienced people on this site to let loose on my photos? I'm very new at this and want to learn. I live in a rural area with little available in the way of classes and rely on the net for my info. I want and crave criticing on everything from composition, framing, and pp.
The chosen subject is a different matter. You may not like my topic but am hoping you can tell me how to make it look better. How about putting something like "CR harsh" in the header? Would that get you to tear into my work?
12-07-2006, 05:01 AM   #8
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Excellent post jfd!

This subject has been on my mind, too, and your well-thought-out post has put my concerns eloquently onto paper (screen?).

I think a system that shows exactly if and what type of response is expected from a photo posting might be the way to go.

Have to head to work now, but hope this thread has your intended results.

12-07-2006, 05:07 AM   #9
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If I was to post shots and got no answers whatsoever, I would really be hurt.

When I do post, which isn't often I ask for the good, the bad, and the ugly - my feelings will not be hurt unless the individual meant it that way.

I often post comments and at times it feels like I'm the odd one out because everyone ahead of me ooooohed and aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhed but it's not fair on the poster if the negative side is not pointed out.

Being in fora of this type one must be very carefull to balance things out - just like a work group.

So, when I post, PLEASE give all you got.
12-07-2006, 07:18 AM   #10
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In the Air Force.. there was once a time where photos were sent into a depository and also to a "photojournalist" for his review and he would make a cassette tape with his "critique" of a photographers photos. He was a great photographer but he had a way of being very brash of his work compared to others.

I saw a photographer go to tears over some photos that were sent in and he basically tore them apart for exposure, composition and even subject matter. Those photos won three awards before being sent into the critque cue.

All comments about a phot can be a learning experience, but to expect a "frank" discussion about photos can lead to other results.

Some fo the comments on photos here have actually taught me a few things about my own shooting.
12-07-2006, 07:27 AM   #11
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Good Bad Ugly

Jeff this is a good point. I have over about a year and a half or so been playing around in about three different forums. DPR was one of my favorites as far as a Pentax info forum (until now). The next was Popphoto forums, this site particularly liked for the reason you talked about. You can usually get alot of feed back both good and bad. At first I did not post any pictures after seeing some amazing work buy people I believed light years ahead of me and my little *istds. Then I thought about it. Hey, these people could not have always been this good they all started somewhere. So I started posting shots. I felt there I did get the good, bad and ugly comments. That is what I wanted. Now that I type I think more then once I have included in my posts something that I was looking for was ", good bad or ugly comments welcomed". I think for the most part people post shots that they think are great and want to hear that. I know I do. Unless of course I am trying to learn something new. Meaning I post a crappy picture and say how could I make this better or what did I do worng. Or what should I have done. As far as responding am guilty as charged in usually only giving the attaboys. However, lately I feel I have learned enough hanging around forums, reading countless articles about this and that, that have been giving my two cents about what I don't think work in a shot. But I try and include that it is my opion and we all know that opinons are like.... well you know we all have one . Like said before how will we learn if everyone says hey your stuff is great, when if is more then likely okay. I am buy no means an expert but I think we are all looking for the same thing, to get better at our photography. I also agree that constructive criticism is one thing being mean is another. While I am on a roll realistically isn't it all subjective? I think a picture of a can of Cambell's soup is and advertisement for soup, Andy puts a bunch of them together and it is art. My point? who knows, but I know it takes a little courage to post your images on these sites to be viewed by hundreds if not thousands of people. When you do so you should expect some feed back, GOOD BAD or UGLY.
12-07-2006, 09:04 AM   #12
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Very good thread. I agree that constructive criticizm has been lacking here and that it would be a good thing to see. This is all pretty new to me and I welcome any suggestions for improvement. That said however, it should also be pointed out that there is nothing wrong with plain old attaboys either.

I'm guilty of mainly posting praise but like Arpe, I don't know enough to really feel comfortable with critiqueing someone's work. That will come with time perhaps, meanwhile I will continue to post my admiration of other's work and hope to match it someday.

I like the idea of a tag line to invite criticizm, another option of course is to add a forum solely for photos seeking critiques.
12-07-2006, 09:48 AM   #13
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I think the two-forum solution would work.

Forum #1 would be for those just wanting to share their photos. If someone is pleased enough with their photo to want to post it (just for the sake of sharing), then this would be the place to do it. These posters would not be expecting any "nice, but... " comments. No OOF or underexposed comments. You get the picture? *Play on words intended.*

Forum #2 would be for those brave souls who want honest (and possibly brutal, but hopefully always constructive) critiques. Only through this kind of feedback can any of us really expect to improve our skills.

What do you say, Mo? Would you add another photo-posting forum?

12-07-2006, 11:24 AM   #14
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Whenever someone posts a photo, they should get some feedback, even if it is neutral. A post with no comment is like getting the silent treatment from a spouse. You want something like that, just put your photos up for sale and stand around watching people. They either buy them or don't, they speak with their money. Unless something strikes a client and they purchase, you don't have a clue as to the balance of the people's mindset or thought processes.

Either you like a presentation or you don't. Be prepared to explain why you don't like it because if someone takes the time to participate in a forum and puts their efforts forth takes not only some effort, but an actual desire for input. There are posts here that I have looked at and not commented upon due to lack of expertise. There are posts here where I have appreciated the information and techniques given so will offer my appreciation for someone's efforts. There are posts here that I have looked at and don't care for the general presentation BUT will comment on some aspect of the presentation because of not only courtesy, I expect others to say something about my posts. We are photographers, we all have opinions, we have eyes of composition, we have thoughts about other people's presentations, their lenses, their choice of color, their choice of border.

If you see a C&C or CR, give it. I don't care if you like something I put forth or don't, I value your input. I am here, as I am sure the rest of you are, to read what others have to say about what we put on your screen. So if you have some knowledge, an opinion, share it, ask questions, offer a critique, give an attaboy. Above all, be honest and polite. That way we all will have a comfortable forum for learning and growing, a place where we want to come and share.

Have people put a C&C, CR, CR Harsh on their threads if that is what they want.

Some of what we have seen here is excitement about a new camera or a new lense but quite frankly the photography isn't the greatest. So why not talk about aspects of the lense or the camera, that is why it is posted as such. If you don't want to comment or you don't feel qualified to comment, then read and learn what you can. This type of stuff may dilute the posts for a time but this will settle down. It is all good. Give and take.

Call me ramblin' rose, geeze got on a soap box there.
12-07-2006, 12:42 PM   #15
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Constructive criticism is always a good thing. But...

Art is expression of oneself and photography is an art advocating for an individual.

The thing I dislike the most is the so-called "rules of photography" which are the essential critieria for a lot of so called experts or pro critics. Like rules of horizon to be at 2/3 sky and 1/3 ground or ocean in a photo, composition of foreground, subject and background, or subject never being in the middle etc. I think whatever works will be fine - if the technique does not work out, people can express opinions. I hate to hear stuff like re-iteration from a standard photography technique book, regurgitated just for the sake of criticism - that is what most photo critic fora suffered (constant whining without tips or improvement) (whoever complaints the most wins the best critic in the world). This forum is lovely because it is gentle, friendly and non-intimidating. After more members joined this website, there will be more mixed opinions.

Different things can mean differently to different people and it is sometimes hard to give objective opinions about a photo - someone's art work with its own unique perspective is hard to be assessed by another person with different upbringing and exposure to environment.

As long as a comment that conveys a thought or a tip for improvement from an individual perspective rather than stuff like "nice" "great" in short bursts, any viewers opinions are welcome.

I am actually glad that i do not see insults, defamation or arogance imposed in this forum. (Hence I called DPR canon fora - nazi fora as I was told to post my photos somewhere like + other series of name callings) Good photographs (seriously superb) are often attacked to the point that it is a piece of crap - everyone can criticise using whatever they can think of and seriously it is so easy to criticise. (I can criticise Picasso's work reducing them to mere toilet paper with faecal smear but I can praise Monet' paintings like God sent gifts just because I am biased and loving Monet's Japanese garden in oil painting with nihilistic style)

If there are too many good comments for one series of photos, it does not mean negative comments are required to balance the act. It is up to people in this forum. As long as individual feelings and opinions are expressed in respectful way, anything is fine.

Just my 0.0000001 cent

Last edited by roentarre; 12-07-2006 at 12:48 PM.

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