Photo Critiques

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by The Bad Guy, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. The Bad Guy macrumors 6502a

    The Bad Guy

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  2. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a

    tomnavratil

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    #2
    Good question - I'm sure there are many users here who would be willing to spare a minute or two to write down some comments and critique as you can sometimes see in the Weekly Contest thread. I would be happy to both critique and, of course, get some opinion on my pictures too.

    Regarding any rules, would you suggest 5 pictures per topic / thread so the critique is about specific work rather than hundreds of pics?

    IMHO I feel it would work well with the community here :).
     
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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  4. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #4
    Excellent idea.

    However, I think at this stage that we could also give consideration to the tone to be used should something such as that take off.

    This is because while the tone of the critiques from the Weekly Contest are almost invariably encouraging, respectful and thoughtful, - which is what I think we should try to cultivate - much of what passes for online communication is not.

    Indeed, I recall a stunned reaction - and some hurt and disappointment - when strikingly stringent critiques were offered after one particular Weekly Contest a few months ago.
     
  5. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #5
    Agreed. A certain bridge shot sparked a fury of arguments. So we need rules of engagement and anyone commenting has to behave and not be cruel.
     
  6. The Bad Guy, Mar 21, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015

    The Bad Guy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    The Bad Guy

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    #6
    Have done, hence this thread.
     
  7. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a

    tomnavratil

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    #7
    Good point about the critique being constructive, positive and useful. I think it can start off with a person submitting only a few pics and providing a story / info, which might give us more perspective for the critique. Of course, as you guys said already, it will be crucial what language / style is used for the critique itself. However really looking forward for this to kick off once we establish some ground rules.
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #8
    There was a time when people would post photos for critique here fairly regularly. In my opinion, it's best if a person posts a single shot at a time. That way the maker can get lots of really in-depth feedback. It also forces the person posting to be very selective.
     
  9. Miltz macrumors 6502

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    #9
    When it comes to critiques, I believe it matters who giving them. How many people are actually qualified to give critiques? What's makes someone qualified? Just because someone is in the Digital Photography section on Macrumors doesn't make them qualified, that's for sure. I've seen some excellent images win weekly contests, along with some terrible images that kind of make the whole process for entertainment only. I think the person giving critiques should be someone who actually makes a living with their images and has a high level of achievement in the photography community.
     
  10. MCH-1138 macrumors 6502

    MCH-1138

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    #10
    I think it just means that the person seeking a critique on an internet forum needs to take the comments with a grain of salt. But I don't make a living with my images, and I have not reached a high level of achievement in the photography community, so my opinion may not be worth much. ;)
     
  11. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #11
    Here's one for you.
    Thanks AFB for your photos. They are rubbish.
     
  12. Miltz macrumors 6502

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    #12
    A large grain...lol
     
  13. Hughmac macrumors demi-god

    Hughmac

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    #13
    All the same, I'm willing to take a large grain if the critique is constructive and gives another angle to my photos.

    Cheers :)

    Hugh
     
  14. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #14
    If a photo critique draws enough responses, patterns will emerge. Really glaring problems will stand out to a lot of people, and there will tend to be a lot of agreement about them. It's in matters of style and taste where feedback tends to get more diverse. My advice to anyone who is receiving critical feedback is to look at the work of the people giving it; most serious photographers will have portfolio links in their forum signatures or will at least have a history of posting their own work to the forum. Evaluate what you see and weigh input from those people accordingly.
     
  15. DevNull0 macrumors 65816

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    #15
    My first reaction to the OP was critiques couldn't work here for that exact reason. When I first started doing glamour photography, I posted for critiques on a certain other forum aimed at professionals. I got some very harsh but detailed feedback. I recall one person who wrote at least 1000 words tearing apart one of my favourite pictures I'd taken. As harsh as the words were he ended with some encouragement.

    It was humbling, but I used it to improve and my pictures are far better now, and I owe a lot to those early critiques.

    I find a lot of the critiquing in the contest threads to not be that helpful. The general theme is no matter how much you might hate the photo, find anything positive you can say about it. That's fine for the contest, but if you want a place to help people grow as photographers, there has to be harsh words. People will have to be able to say "I hate that picture because x, y, and z". I just don't see that happening here.
     
  16. MCH-1138 macrumors 6502

    MCH-1138

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    #16
    To me, this (the "because") is the key, whether the feedback is "I like" or "I dislike."

    I understand your comment regarding feedback in the weekly contests, but I think there is (and maybe should be) a different dynamic between the weekly contest threads, where a single individual is asked to judge and comment on numerous images and where generally positive feedback may encourage further participation, and a hypothetical critique thread, where individuals can willingly submit themselves and their work to public flogging by strangers specifically in order to improve themselves as photographers. That is not to say that the comments in the weekly contests should always be glowing and devoid of any criticism, but the purpose of the threads are different. I suspect that many of the participants in this forum are readily capable of giving critical feedback.
     
  17. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #17
    I see it as being simpler than this. We aren't critiquing to select portfolios to go to book launch with. However there are a lot of folks on here who I respect and value their opinion.

    When it comes to my photography, I am a mere toddler compared to some of the experience on here.

    What I like here is that I can get someone's opinion in a less daunting way. At the end of the day, I can opt to take the "whatever..." perspective as a few if you know you are cranky at times.

    I believe that while most folks in here are better than I am, then I can learn from them. If I can learn, then it is valuable to me.

    I like a laugh along the way too and I enjoy seeing the odd howler put up but even if I can watch a thread and read the comments, then seeing real world construction of analysis of an image helps me to grow.

    Don't know if this makes sense.
     
  18. Miltz macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Amen! Can i get a hallelujah! I agree 100%.
     
  19. Scepticalscribe, Mar 22, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #19
    Well, here, I have to say I disagree. This is because it is possible to be critical yet constructive, and I do not believe that harsh words are necessary; I don't think people respond well to harsh words, especially in any sort of a learning environment. Instead, they shrivel and get defensive.

    I used to be a university teacher and one of my tasks was the setting, and grading of term papers, theses, and (obviously) exams. The term papers and theses were returned, and feedback was given, on a one to one basis, in a session which could last up to the best part of an hour, which meant that grading, and returning the papers of a single class could take more than a week.

    The point when delivering feedback is to ask yourself what you want the outcome to be. Do you want the kid, student, baby photographer to want to improve? Or do you want to express yourself in a savagely truthful manner, where the 'need to tell the truth' takes precedence over the need to deliver the message - 'this could be improved, there, you missed the point, however, you got that right' - with respect?

    There were students whose work I thought poorly researched, complacent, downright lazy at times; but, in order to deliver a form of feedback that would persuade them to want to change, it has to be delivered in the right way. Hence, you find the positive features - sometimes, the sole positive feature - before delivering the rest of the message which is that this essay/paper/thesis/photograph really could do with a bit of remedial action and here is how to set about doing that.

    The bottom line is that anything here is something done by someone in their spare or free time; these photography fora are for enthusiasts and hobbyists. Holding people to the standards of professionals and critiquing them accordingly when they are doing something that they find fun will run the risk of soon taking the fun out what should be a fun experience.


    Does it matter that people are qualified, or have to be qualified?

    The fact that they are enthusiastic enough, and sufficiently interested to take and post pictures should be sufficient to participate. This is not a forum for professionals but for hobbyists, amateurs, enthusiasts, a few who may make some sort of income from photography, and almost all of whom are interested in wanting to learn more.

    Holding people to professional standards - and critiquing accordingly - may undermine the very purpose of the exercise which is that it should be a fun experience where people showcase what they do, get others to comment, and hopefully learn from the experience while enjoying it.

    Re weekly winners, agreed, some have been outstanding, while I, personally, would not have selected others. The grounds for this may vary; an outstanding image, with flawless composition and lighting may still fail to win while others - perhaps less - objectively impressive - may have struck a chord with the person who was judging that particular week's contest. While high standards may be recognised across the board, personal preferences in the whole area of what is liked visually - and draws a response from someone personally, will vary enormously. That is inevitable.

    At this stage of the business, while I think it an excellent idea, if a culture of 'harsh but truthful' criticism becomes the norm on such a thread, those who simply enjoy photography as a hobby will politely withdraw and exclude themselves from the whole endeavour, leaving it to those who view themselves as professionally proficient and qualified to participate. Then, it will not be a learning process, but an esoteric sub-thread for a self selected photographic elite.

    People enter the weekly contest - which, remember, is not a professional setting, but one that is designed to be and intended to be fun, - in a spirit of cheerful optimism, and exchanges take place in a similar tone, one that prioritises constructive criticism. That allows a safe space where people feel confident enough to want to share what they have done.

    At the end of the day, it is a venue for enthusiasts and hobbyists, not professionals, and a nicer and more welcoming atmosphere, to my mind, is a better place to hang out for hobbies, than one where strict standards of proficiency are applied.
     
  20. someoldguy macrumors 65816

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    #20
    After 40 years as a teacher in a 'somewhat challenging urban environment' and as a bemused observer of these fora ( who occasionally litters up the POTD and Weekly contests) for a few years ,these comments mirror my feelings , and opinions ,exactly . Only put in a far more articulate manner than I would ever be able to .
     
  21. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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  22. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #22
    Many photography forums seems to use the "CCxx" series whereby the poster of the picture indicates what type/level/harshness of feedback they are requesting, those feeding back can then adjust accordingly. I can't find a precise definition in the time I have available now but basically it goes (my words):

    CC1 - Positive feedback only
    CC2 - Balanced only (ie some neg but must be pos too)
    CC3 - Constructive but phrased nicely
    CC4 - Gloves off, I'm wanting to improve and need to know how it is

    All can have an optional "E" added which indicates the poster is willing for feedbackers to take the posted image and edit it to show what they mean, and post it back into the thread.

    These could be agreed and then posted as a sticky set of guidelines at the head of the forum, Mods, posters and feedback givers then have a similar language to work from.
     
  23. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #23
    I've never come across this grading, but think it's a great idea. I for one would welcome CC4E advice on my work as I really would like to improve.
     
  24. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #24
    Me too. Lets see what consensus 24hrs brings then maybe need a Mod to create the ROE sticky post :)
     
  25. DevNull0 macrumors 65816

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    #25
    First, the critiques here are not given by teachers trying to keep students engaged. It is people coming to a forum asking for honest evaluations of their work. They are already engaged in doing something that they enjoy and hopefully don't need a pat on the head to reassure them and keep them motivated. If they are so sensitive a little harsh wording will scare them away, they shouldn't even be asking for opinions of their work because they really don't want to hear the answer.

    Second, by saying it's just enthusiasts and hobbyists and they shouldn't be held to the standards of professionals is the greatest harm you can do here. Let the people hear how a professional would have done things differently. It's a hobby where people want to do their best. Why do you believe it's bad to compare people's work to professionals? I will never be a professional fashion photographer (my area of interest), but when someone who knows what they're talking about tells me how my picture fails compared to a professional, they is very helpful to me.

    You think it's better to say "you did great for an amateur hobbyist just keep at it" then to say "nice effort, but a, b, and c look bad, a pro would have done x, y, and z to fix that?".
     

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