Critique and Comments(CC) Welcome – NOT!!

I’ll take NOT!!.  And I’ll explain why.

I saw a picture posted of a park bench(empty) on an Autumn day.  Was done in Black and White.  I liked the starkness of the picture with the dark, thick clouds.  It communicated to me.  The artist said in the post “CC Welcome”. One person commented that it would be a better shot with someone sitting on the bench.  For me it would have ruined the shot.

It is all about communication.  Really.  What are you trying to communicate. Someone may want to show the starkness of a shot like above where another photographer may want to show the loneliness of a person or juxtapose a cheerful, colorfully dressed individual on the bench.

If you post a picture or show it to someone and you are getting some kind of emotional response then I think you have done a decent job.  Some critics are going to be more interested in certain technical aspects of a photo than whether or not it communicates.  Or elicits some emotional response.  I have seen some very mediocre(technically) pictures that could make me laugh or cry endlessly.

Now, I’ll give you that as one’s expertise increases so does his or her ability to create effects.  And thus communicate more clearly or easily.  That doesn’t mean one has to always use every tool at their disposal.

Sometimes, I take certain pictures and way over-process them.  I have one selfie that I took where I’m smoking a cigar, squinting against the sun.  Shows me all wrinkled and old looking.  My girlfriend hates  it.  I feel the photo communicates a part of me.  Lots of people like and lots don’t.  I like it.  I think it is a great shot.  So there!

If I were to ask for C&C I would be very specific.  For example, if I were trying to get a wider range of tones in my black and white photos, I might post a picture and ask for ideas on how to do this.  Other photographers will have tried different things and some of your responses will be simple and some not so.  Often you are looking for something you can do within your means.  Starting out many don’t have the money to spend every time they need to try a new technique.  So, this is a good way to gets some cheaper, workable ideas.

The shotgun aspect of asking for general critique and comments covers too much.

I’ve seen more artists destroyed by criticism.  I think it is rarely, if ever, useful.

Now if I don’t like a particular communication – that is a different story.  Not every piece of art is for every public(audience).  Years ago, I was at a very public venue near Queen’s Quay in Toronto.  There were markets and stores and on the walls in one section there were framed photo prints of a couple of local photographers.  They were borderline porn.  This was a family venue. There were a huge number of people walking around with their children. Some very upset moms and dads.

I’m not commenting on the quality of the photos or anything of the sort.  I’m questioning the audience.

I’ve met few artists that don’t have some kind of idea of the quality of their art.  It isn’t that difficult to compare what you have done to a photographer you are trying to emulate.  Though we are often our own worst critics.  And saying that, if we are questioning something that we have created, and someone slams us, that is not going to do much for our willingness to continue to create.

Some will say this will make us a better artist.  I vehemently disagree.  Doing more of your art and increasing one’s expertise will make one better.  As a photographer, one can now do volumes and volumes much more cheaply than 30 years ago.  This has its pros and cons.  One has to actually learn techniques and pay attention to what they are doing.

Here is a simple example.  A million snapshot portraits are taken at Niagara Falls where the photographer ‘cuts off the feet’ of the people in the picture.  Reading a beginner photo magazine will make sure that someone learns not to do this.  If you asked for C&C on a picture like this you may get a hundred different opinions: ‘the falls were out of focus’, ‘you need to use your flash’, you need to not use your flash’ … The point being one could improve the quality by just not cutting off the feet.  Reading, observing, learning and most of all doing.

I tend to ask my market audience if they like or don’t like rather than other photographers.  Why show your head shots to another to another agency where he or she may hate them or suggest all sorts of changes but the actors agent may love them!

So, in a word, Comments and Critiques not welcome.

(Thanks for listening.)

Posted by photo-photo

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