Why Polite Internet “Criticism” Makes Your Photography Suck

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by cleary, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    From:
    http://kennethjarecke.typepad.com/mostly_true/2012/02/chances-are-you-suck.html
    and
    http://www.petapixel.com/2012/02/07/why-polite-internet-criticism-makes-your-photography-suck/

    I made a comment on some photography in the gallery today which was not off the cuff. It was considered, intended as informative/constructive, and based on me reading/following content posted by the OP over the course of several years.
    Strangely I managed to upset some readers of the thread and not the OP himself - fwiw I like that ocau is one of the few places on the internet where you can just as easily critique work in a positive AND NEGATIVE fashion.
    I'm not a social media guy, but recently started using google plus, and follow some talented but afaik still relatively unknown photographers. The comments after their posts are templated each time - "beautiful!", "magnificent" et al with 100 +1 clicks from the same people commenting. It makes me sad that ocau is following that social media trend with the generic "like" comments, and the equivalent "dislike" button being just a deafening silence in the post reply section.
    We're not posting on this 'relatively unknown in the world of photography forum' to become famous, we're posting in the hope that it generates some discussion, share ideas, learn stuff - regardless of the direction that discussion takes, the fact that it exists is something we should appreciate and take on board what constructive bits we can.

    /in my opinion.

    /hopes to generate discussion

    /I bet I still sound like a prick even trying to defend my actions somewhat

    /was going to write my own rant but luckily someone did it for me, thanks Kenneth

    /I think we haven't seen this thread topic here for at least 6 months so it's probably overdue
     
  2. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    You need to have some knowledge/expertise for your "I don't like and here's why"s to be useful. I say "I like" as a feedback that whatever is presented is attractive. As a non-photographer, I don't expect my feedback to hold any weight over and above that off an observer of the aesthetics of the work. If I think "yuck", there's no point my saying so because I can't give any information that would assist in knowing WHY or what could be "fixed".

    If you are presenting work to those without any expertise in the field, their feedback may be limited to whether they like it (or not - and good manners probably stops most "yuck" replies) because they aren't skilled to say anything more than that.....
     
  3. Az1

    Az1 Member

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    Agree whole heartedly, i.ve posted some utter dribble on Facebook and people still ooh and ahh.

    I had a rant on g+ a while back about the fawners better have a good flame suite if you want to post any critisicm on there lol.
     
  4. destrkta

    destrkta Member

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    Clearly, I honestly respected your response, contructive critisism. Some people may have taken it as a jealous rant but I think we on OCAU are bigger than that.

    Lots of people look at my threads and I get few if any comments which makes it hard to know if I'm doing something majorly wrong and considering I've had no formal training in photography and using gear to try and compensate for my lack of learning.

    The technical side of photography eg working apperture/shutter/iso is easy for me as I have an extremely logical thinking path.

    What I lack is the creative side to make the photo stand out and that is kind of what I hope to get out of OCAU.

    anyway never feel bad about posting something negative about me, I try to learn from everyone.
     
  5. Modafroman

    Modafroman Member

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    Another agree here.

    I know i'm not the worlds best photographer, bring on the constructive criticism! How else are we supposed to learn?

    Though it is nice to hear people liking your shots :)

    Also, I agreed with your comments on the photos that sparked this Cleary, and I read it the way you intended, it wasn't a slam of his images, it was just good feedback. (I was going to post something along the lines of aaahhhh wonky horizons :p)


    I find myself thinking the same way. The technical side of it is easy for me, (similarly, being a logical thinker, and an Engineer), it's the creative side that gets me down, photography is really the only creative avenue I have, i'm just so useless at everything else creative haha :p
     
  6. chilloutbuddy

    chilloutbuddy Member

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    http://kennethjarecke.typepad.com/mostly_true/2012/02/chances-are-you-suck.html
    Bullshit.
    The article assumes that there is a universally accepted thing that is called "good photography".

    Well here's the news: there's no such thing. And most photojournalists are lucky if they make $20k a year.

    Figure out who it is that you're trying to impress with your photography, find out where they hang out, go show them your works. If they like it that's it, you are a succesful photographer, even if all you do is blurry photos of your left nut.

    And that's the simple and bitter truth. "Likes" are a perfectly good feedback, as long as it's coming from your target audience.

    There is absolutely no way that a commercial photographer with countless "likes" will be unsuccessful, poor and unhappy with life. And I'll be the last person to tell him that his photography is as boring as watching paint dry, even if I deeply believe so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  7. tomtom1

    tomtom1 Member

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    I thought your advice regarding technique and in general was sound, and helpful.

    Perhaps the delivery regarding the expensive gear side of things fell a bit flat. In my opinion I don't think critiquing the quality of camera body or lens used to take a photo is relevant at all to the final image. Filters, lighting, aperture, iso, shutter speed, processing, composition, aesthetics yes - as these relate technically and creatively. I can see how some would consider it as a put down, even if it wasn't intended as one.

    Everyone takes photos for different reasons and you can't make assumptions about other people's goals for their photos and photographic skills.
     
  8. beLarge

    beLarge Member

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    As much as I don't enjoy people saying bad things, I appreciate the comments and usually agree or at least see the valid points of their response.

    I will usually comment on the feeling, or intent, of a photo rather than the technical aspect/megapickels/post processing i.e. I like nice photos and I will say when I think they are nice.

    I also like it when people appreciate my photos and I also have time for when they point out genuine issues (usually I haven't noticed because I have got too caught up in my own emotional attachment to the photo)

    I get quite a lot of honest feedback from a friend and sometimes it is irritating at the time. It frustrates me that I can't be as good as them, but, after the initial discomfort I realise they are actually doing a great service in taking time to honestly critique and judge my pictures. Unfortunately I have other friends that I critique and judge and they get really sensitive about it so I just default to the "oh that's nice" neutral safe response.

    I think if someone posts a photo, they should be happy for whatever feedback and try to actually see the responses for what they say and to not focus on them as being attacks. From what I have seen, people who constantly attack photos are just trolling.
     
  9. lothloriel

    lothloriel Member

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    Everything is contextual. 1+1 = 3 if i want to believe it.

    But there is such a thing as "good photography". In my opinion;) Of course if you're judging from a simplistic point of view, everything is good. Anything can be good. But then you need to question yourself is that what you want.

    To me photographs need to evoke something; a story, an atmosphere, a mood, whatever. If you can try and understand/see if the photographer has done that (intentionally or not), then doors will open and you will see things you never would have considered before.

    The "art" of photography is getting all the elements just right to portray that special something. And that something special is different for everyone. So again, everything is contextual.

    It's easy to judge with no observation, but that judgment is worthless. If one is going to judge then one should provide a well thought justification, so the one being critiqued and try and understand the critic's point of view.

    "There is absolutely no way that a commercial photographer with countless "likes" will be unsuccessful, poor and unhappy with life."
    Of course. I could say the same for Paris Hilton. As long as she has her mindless fanbase there's absolutely no way that she will be unsuccessful, poor and unhappy with life. Ignorance is bliss, is it not?

    The OP is right.

    Freedom is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear
    -George Orwell.

    Use this right considerately (i.e. constructive criticism) and you'll be doing more good than any mindless sheeple-willed comment some flickr poster is posting so they hope they can get a similarly willed comment in return.
     
  10. bueller

    bueller Member

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    Totally agree - half the reason why I rarely post my photos on FB is because I know all I'll get is a bunch of smoke blown up my arse. I'm my own worst critic, if I'm going to post photos it's because I want them evaluated and not for an ego boost.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    It'd just be another circlejerk without this - thankyou :)
     
  12. chilloutbuddy

    chilloutbuddy Member

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    man you just wrote 3 paras to explain to me what you think photography is all about. Why dont you find a group of like minded people and discuss your work, instead of assuming that everybody shares your angle and all feedback on photography should revolve around it?

    Around here (and in social media) we have:
    • P/Js
    • chicks with blogs who document their cake decorations
    • aspiring and accomplished wedding photographers
    • sports shooters
    • loners with blogs who want an abstract visual work a day to accompany their daily poetry
    • street photographers
    • lanscape and real estate photographers
    • art and photography history students
    • santa claus shooters at shopping centers
    • fashion and product professionals
    • other weirdos
    All these people hang out here.
    And you are telling me that:
    A) there is a common denominator in all these people's photography
    B) this common denominator differentiates good from bad work
    C) you know what that denominator is
    D) the other person is actually interested to hear it

    All I can say is good luck with that :thumbup:
     
  13. triggerpeg

    triggerpeg Member

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    clearly.. you wouldnt happen to be a IT person would you? Cause its been in the last year or so that after going thru a counseling and psychology course that I realized that all my logical-heartfelt-best intentions actions = poo for those who receive it. Its all about the delivery my friend ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  14. OP
    OP
    cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    I'm smart enough to know this, I'm dumb enough to keep trying.

    ...but fuck it, not enough people do.

    At least I know now where the delivery failed (thanks tomtom and Dropbear) :)

    re my IT-ness, you haven't checked which section I moderate, have you?
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  15. HumbleBum

    HumbleBum Member

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    Something Nice, Feedback, Then something nice again.. thats how it works right?

    ;)

    I am all for feedback, and CC if people dont want it.. dont mention it. If they do, its open, as long as you follow the standard morality one would accept.

    Just look at some of my gallery photos from early on, look at some of the feedback it was 'harsh' at the time, but now, I go 'what the hell was I thinking' and I go away and learn.
     
  16. kingbob86

    kingbob86 Member

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    I'm all for feedback, especially criticism where someone can tell you why they don't like it or where you could improve. I have no issues with people telling me a photo of mine is crap if they can tell me why it's crap.
     
  17. lothloriel

    lothloriel Member

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    Wait a second. What? Huh? When did i assume everyone shared my view on photography? I just gave my opinion on photography in relation to constructive criticism. Nor do I want to limit myself to an audience that only appreciates one thing. That's being terribly narrow minded.

    I wrote a bunch of paragraphs on why critique is useful and why it's important. Of course not everything needs to be critiqued; heaps of images are shown just for the sake of showing them. And that's cool.

    I'm pretty sure i've found a group of like minded people here in the photograph section.

    And yes, there is a common denominator in all these people's photography. That common denominator is an inherent desire to show one's work for other to appreciate/critique/enjoyment. The common denominator however is not used to differentiate good from bad work. What is "GOOD" or "BAD" is subjective. CRITIQUE is subjective. This is why constructive critique is useful (this is what the thread topic is about, right?) because it allows people to see things from a different perspective. And it's that which is more important than instantaneous dismissal of criticism in lieu of false candour.
     
  18. CapnBloodbeard

    CapnBloodbeard Member

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    It's even more annoying when it's a photo forum and images that are the most basic of snapshots are met with 'brilliant shot!' 'Great capture!' etc etc.

    Such comments are, IMO, quite patronising - they don't help anybody. If you're posting on such a forum then you're doing it for advice (and if not then you shouldn't be posting, unless you specify that you don't want C&C). Pretending an image is flawless when it belongs in the recycle bin helps nobody.

    Sure, different people have different opinions. That's why the OP should consider all advice with an open mind then decide what to do with the advice given.

    What I find interesting though is how often I see images (for instance, sports images in the media, or various article shots in a magazine) that would be torn to shreds on a forum - though that probably provides an interesting commentary on its own.
     
  19. phreeky82

    phreeky82 Member

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    Well obviously I sparked this, only fair I chip in :D

    If people want C+C then they can ask for it. Often they do. If they don't, as far as I'm concerned, leave it be. OCAU is full of up-themselves photographers that pull other peoples work to pieces and yet when I look at their photography I think it's often utter garbage - that's "art"!. I'm not saying that specifically about your work at all btw, I don't check out the gallery enough these days to even remember your work.

    As for your specific comments in the other thread, your go at the gear was probably the tipping point for me. Using your logic a person who shoots with a P&S and wins awards could quite simply rip into all your work because you buy great gear and are no good at using it. It's all relative.

    I think it's driven by peoples own ego, struggling inside when they see "crap" photography being wowed at. What does it matter?
     
  20. DracZ

    DracZ Member

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    It's a bit of a catch-22 right there - what you consider basic, others might consider "brilliant". There is no "correct" view in this case.

    Unless you stick to critiquing strictly the technical aspects of the image, unfortunately there's very little to stand on.

    The funny thing with constructive criticism is that often times a decent image just needs that slight nudge (cropping / different processing etc), in order to be a good one. However sometimes images posted are just...boring? It has to be said though, that OCAU are quite the forgiving bunch. Usually with a particularly lacking set of images, there's simply an absence of comments, instead of scathing criticism etc etc. At the end of the day, if you post your images up for public consumption, just grow a pair and accept that being met with positive and negative comments are both equally likely, and that one should just take it in their stride :)
     

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