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Author Topic: How does critique work? Why do we post here?  (Read 11204 times)
Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2009, 07:44:28 AM »
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Quote from: stamper
It appears to me that you consider your opinions to be better than others or should be given more than equal value? Nobody knows the "credentials" of the posters giving their opinions, except for a certain few? Michael, Schewe etc? Therefore the vast majority of posters should have an equal say when replying? There isn't a ranking order on the discussion forum? Sorry your post sounded a bit "superior" to me?

Read it again ... Not once did I ever say anything about the value of my opinion relative to others'.  Nowhere do I discuss how we uncover that inequality or on what basis that inequality rests.  Nowhere at all do I mention myself.  All I said was "all opinions ... are not equal".  Is that so hard to digest or really all that controversial?  

Let's try again with a slightly different, but functionally equivalent example:

Someone says: "All coffee makers are the same!"

I say: "No they aren't, all coffee makers are definitely not same ... some are better than others."

You say: "What makes you think your coffee maker is better than mine?"

See what I'm sayin'?
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2009, 09:10:08 AM »
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Quote from: kaelaria
BOY do you think too much.

I can live with that.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2009, 09:26:43 AM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
Read it again ... Not once did I ever say anything about the value of my opinion relative to others'.  Nowhere do I discuss how we uncover that inequality or on what basis that inequality rests.  Nowhere at all do I mention myself.  All I said was "all opinions ... are not equal".  Is that so hard to digest or really all that controversial?  

Let's try again with a slightly different, but functionally equivalent example:

Someone says: "All coffee makers are the same!"

I say: "No they aren't, all coffee makers are definitely not same ... some are better than others."

You say: "What makes you think your coffee maker is better than mine?"

See what I'm sayin'?

Why are you hating on my coffee maker?
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2009, 09:30:45 AM »
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Quote from: DarkPenguin
Why are you hating on my coffee maker?
'Cause you shoot Canon and I shoot Nikon ... wasn't that obvious from my first post?  If not, I'm sorry I wasn't more clear ...

 
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dalethorn
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2009, 11:52:15 AM »
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This topic seems to be a call for creating a social hierarchy within the existing social group. The software that runs the forum already supports a 1-5 star ranking for members. If those stars (or a 1-5 digit) could be displayed next to the name with each post, that would accomplish the task, yes? Then of course, interested persons with multiple 'nyms could trash rankings of members who haven't been ranked by hundreds of other members already (read: nearly everyone could be trashed.) But maybe some other standard could be applied, based on informal membership in The Clique. Haven't heard of The Clique? Films such as Lords Of Discipline, The Firm, Star Chamber and others illustrate how control-centric persons bond together to accomplish their purposes.

What works for most control-centric persons on forums like this is the old time-honored practice of bullying. It can be subtle, skillful, blatant, clever, or even scientific, but it's still the same thing: Keep the "unapproved" people from participating, and/or marginalize them any way possible.

But wait - there may be a way to do this after all. Read the number of posts next to the poster's name. That's a good indication of longevity, personal interest, commitment - in short, they've been here and participated to that extent already. And whatever info is available on their member profile page can be taken with a large grain of salt. And of course, for those persons who like reason and logic, they can always fall back on the best data of all - what the poster actually said.
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RSL
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2009, 01:57:18 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
I'm not so sure that this matters all that much to me. It can be useful to look at someone's work and get an idea of where they're coming from, but for the most part I'm going to judge the value of their critiques based on the insight and thought that went into them. And I don't necessarily think you have to be a good photographer to be a good critic. Certainly with other art forms, it seems to rarely be the case that well-respected critics are also accomplished practitioners. Non-photographers, or even photographers that work exclusively in other genres, will likely approach an image from a different viewpoint than another photographer who has been shooting the same stuff for years. Both types of feedback can be helpful.

So while it may be useful (or just interesting) to see commenters' work, I certainly wouldn't want people to feel afraid to offer their opinions here because they don't feel the have the resume/credentials to back them up. If people just lurk because they're afraid to post and make themselves look/feel stupid, that's counter-productive to the forum.


I definitely agree. It's good to see the increased activity in this forum, and the postings have mostly been of high quality.

Jeff,

One thing I didn't point out in that post, though I did in an earlier one, is that it's up to the person who posted a picture for criticism to determine the value of the criticism he receives. How to determine that value also is up to the poster.

Now, there are plenty of posters who will instantly agree with a "criticism" that says, "I really like that! Attaboy!", but few who will hasten to agree with a criticism that says, "It's a reasonably good shot, but..." Yet, the second criticism may be much more to the point and may contain a lot more useful information than the first. If I receive the second kind of criticism, the first thing I want to know is how useful the critic's suggestions are liable to be. How do I determine that? Well, if he's posted his background in his profile, that can give me at least a clue, but very few people on here have given any information about themselves in their profile, and even if there's extensive information in the profile, how do I know whether or not the member has.., well, overstated the case? But there's one thing I can rely on. If the critic is a photographer, I want to see his photographs. That's going to tell me a lot more than anything he can write about his qualifications.

By the way, the fact that in other art forms "well-respected" critics rarely are accomplished practitioners goes a long way toward explaining the descent of modern painting and modern poetry into the pit of unintelligibility. In art there are no assigned "credentials" that mean anything. Your works are your credentials.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2009, 02:23:43 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Your works are your credentials.

Not necessarily.  By analogy, if I had to depend on my parents' examples and so-called credentials for my upbringing, I would have missed a lot of important points. Many times it's what they *said* (do or don't do and here's why) that made the difference for their children between success and failure. Someone else's credentials don't buy you anything - the factual information they give you *may* help.
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cmi
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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2009, 03:41:59 PM »
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I feel bad when I read all this. I feel some of you are fundamentally misinterpreting **exactly the critical parts** of what I posted. It seems to me like some of you are drawing absurd conclusions to abadon the whole text. These rules, read right (wich is really trivial), are fundamental to a large group of artistic communities, and they are ensuring honest verbatim critique and a respectful together. I can tell that from experience. I must say I am a bit shocked this was so largely rejected, even commented with some agression, at least I experience it as such. I wont explain it further, really its not too hard so grasp, if someone cant grasp it, it his or her problem. Now ok! I cant change that! Maybe its really the pro/amateur ratio wich ultimatively decides over the climate in a community. After all, there at CGTalk are mainly artists, and nobody can change the rules wich originate from target group ratios. I want to blame no one. But I say, the more we could apply these rules, the better.

And just one thing. I personally dont need ANYONE warning me about what other persons supposedly are doing wrong. I find this to be very childish behaviour. I have my own brain, Im an adult, I am able to judge for myself. I cant respect someone who tries to push me to a conclusion.

I want to come to my own conclusions. I might not pick up something instantly when it is said to me, I might even reject it in the first place! But the things which are really true - for me - are staying in my head and are developing over time, regardless if sayed once, or if sayed 10 times. And I am sure this is true for every person on this planet. I respect people wich are just stating their opinion and let let me figure the rest.

Also, when I dont like an opinion, if I feel its really wrong, I have the choice either to go personal, to really accuse, expose and humiliate with my very best techniques, along with my arguments. That will bring a foreseeable result. Or instead, I could as well just state my opionion, wich might differ. If I do that politely the other might be pissed off too! But then its really his problem. The recipient ultimatively decides and picks up the opinion, or mixes of opinions, which suits him or her best, and NOT because I have successfully humiliated this other guy with the "wrong" opinion.

And having said all this, I can live with disagreement. If someone should laugh about my opinion, well of course I wouldnt like that, but I certainly respect that your opinion differs!

So, all the best, to all of you. (And excuse me for my bad english!)


Christian
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2009, 04:09:26 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
One thing I didn't point out in that post, though I did in an earlier one, is that it's up to the person who posted a picture for criticism to determine the value of the criticism he receives. How to determine that value also is up to the poster.

Now, there are plenty of posters who will instantly agree with a "criticism" that says, "I really like that! Attaboy!", but few who will hasten to agree with a criticism that says, "It's a reasonably good shot, but..." Yet, the second criticism may be much more to the point and may contain a lot more useful information than the first. If I receive the second kind of criticism, the first thing I want to know is how useful the critic's suggestions are liable to be. How do I determine that? Well, if he's posted his background in his profile, that can give me at least a clue, but very few people on here have given any information about themselves in their profile, and even if there's extensive information in the profile, how do I know whether or not the member has.., well, overstated the case? But there's one thing I can rely on. If the critic is a photographer, I want to see his photographs. That's going to tell me a lot more than anything he can write about his qualifications.
We may not be so far apart in our opinions, I think it's just a matter of how much weight would be placed on a critic's portfolio as opposed to other factors. For me it might be a point of interest, and maybe help me understand where a critic is coming from, but I wouldn't completely dismiss a critic's comments due to the lack of a publicly-available portfolio (although if they _do_ have  a portfolio and I think their work is garbage, that may be something to consider...  ).

I just wouldn't want someone to interpret your earlier post as saying "Only established photographers need apply. If you don't have a portfolio you shouldn't be critiquing". I'm reasonably sure that's not what you meant, but could also see some people reading between the lines and maybe interpreting it that way.

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2009, 04:19:48 PM »
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Christian,

I understood the guidelines you posted to have more to do with setting the tone for civil discussion in what can sometimes be an impersonal medium, and I don't see a problem with having some guidelines for that.

Posting an opinion that is contrary to that of another critic is fine; but directly addressing the other critic's comment, calling them 'wrong' or starting an argument is poor form IMHO. What it basically comes down to for me, is that stating an opinion is fine, while starting an argument is not. If you want to argue with somebody do it in private messages or at least start a new thread.

Likewise, all critiques deserve  to be responded to with equal respect and civility, even if the photographer may not choose to value them all equally. Responding to a critique by saying "Sorry Billy-Bob, but you're just a newbie so I don't care what you think" would very rude; even if that's how you feel you should keep it to yourself.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 04:22:15 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

cmi
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« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2009, 04:52:02 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
Christian,

I understood the guidelines you posted to have more to do with setting the tone for civil discussion in what can sometimes be an impersonal medium, and I don't see a problem with having some guidelines for that.

Posting an opinion that is contrary to that of another critic is fine; but directly addressing the other critic's comment, calling them 'wrong' or starting an argument is poor form IMHO. What it basically comes down to for me, is that stating an opinion is fine, while starting an argument is not. If you want to argue with somebody do it in private messages or at least start a new thread.

Likewise, all critiques deserve  to be responded to with equal respect and civility, even if the photographer may not choose to value them all equally. Responding to a critique by saying "Sorry Billy-Bob, but you're just a newbie so I don't care what you think" would very rude; even if that's how you feel you should keep it to yourself.

Jeff,

thank you for answering, I think you summarized it very good.

I dont want to stress the audience, but I want to add one last thing.

I have seen discussions in 3d mailing lists, before web-forums existed. These where other times, but also then there where of course wildly different opinions. But somehow it was different compared to here. The graphics posted where radically turned inside out, to every small bit, covering many aspects. This was always done respectfully, and if some youngsters went arrogant, they where reminded, sometimes also quite direct, by the more experienced people. There always existed different positions, and there where also corrections and disagreements, but that was normal, and contained in the process.

The most beautiful moments I remember where, when in some topics, in certain discussions, sometimes, (after wild discussions!), it eventually became clear that every spoken opinion, different as they seemed had their own merit, and at the end fitted eventually in a big picture, wich contained them all, and wich could not have been formed by a single person.


But enuff said, now Im back to my images.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 05:06:51 PM by Christian Miersch » Logged
jule
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« Reply #31 on: July 06, 2009, 05:38:55 PM »
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Quote from: button
We've discussed the nuts and bolts of the critique process here:

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=35359

Given how well that discussion went,  I thought we might all benefit from a discussion of the nature of critique and what exactly it does for us as (dare I say it) artists.  I would really appreciate your comments on this topic, because I think it deserves some consideration.  I'll start with my observations:

On the surface, the two questions in the topic title seem easy to answer.  For example, "When we allow others to critique our work, the feedback we get helps shape our next photographic endeavors."  "We post here because we want to improve."  "We offer critique to help others improve."

Simple, right?  Well, maybe.  However, I'd like to think these questions can serve as a chrysalis for much more meaningful dialogue, perhaps in the form of more questions, like "When do I know when to take someone's critique to heart?"  "How much thought should I give another person's work before I comment?"  "Can I articulate how critique has specifically helped me grow as a photographer?"  

Please give this some thought and post your reply, because I don't see how it can do anything but help everyone.

Thanks,
John
"When do I know when to take someone's critique to heart?"

I think every opinion ultimately assists us to have a clearer vision. Some opinions we immediately reject perhaps because they really feel off base, but perhaps they may be too close to the truth and we refuse to acknowlege them. Regardless, our concequent choices are still shaped by those opinions - we decide not to do what is suggested, and our clarity is developed.

 Some opinions we may immediately take on board because they support one's own individual vision (however narrow/broad that may be), or because they have been expressed by a person who has articulated a clear argument or has in the past articulated clear arguments, is in a respected position in the field, or themselves demonstrated some good examples of their own work. When the advice or suggestion is taken on board, clarity is once again established with ones own work.

Which advice to 'take to heart' depends on the maturity of the artist concerned fist and foremost. It is the ability to discern and process information given which ultimately contributes to the development of better/more meaningfull/enjoyable work - whateverr the purpose is for the artist.

Secondly, there is no one set of crtieria which I think can be used to determine the 'value ' of the opinion expressed. Everything is subjective, and we all see things in a different way, regardless of one's credentials.

I think the underlying premise that discussion should be honest, civil and respectful is the basis for the development of one's work is paramount. Only then can opinions be examined and become meaningful.

Now to come back to the 'maturity of the artist'. If someone is for example a 'newbie', then yes, it is difficult to discern which advice to take to heart, but it is about developing that discernment which ultimately develops our maturity with our own vision and practice. I think it is important to try things, or take notice of opinions across all spectrums, and then come back to yourself to reflect and determine which advice has actually worked. This then helps us to refine our practice and ability to discern which advice to take notice of in the future.

This applies even when one is a mature artist, and advice is given left right and centre. The ability to give consideration to others opinions and then discern the best advice will always be a process, and can sometimes be as difficult, because patterns and style are established, and clinging on to those established ways can sometimes limit expansion and developemnt of vision.

I think  too often we forget our own responsibilities as artists/photographers/individuals and want a prescription of who has the 'best' advice. This can at best only be arbitrary even with the most discerning guidelines and criteria. Ultimately it is about us learning to be open to listen, experiment, determine ourselves, and develop our own innate ability to decide for ourselves whether the product of our focus satisfies our vision for it.

Julie
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 06:09:43 PM by jule » Logged

cmi
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« Reply #32 on: July 06, 2009, 06:14:37 PM »
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Very beautifully said.
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RSL
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« Reply #33 on: July 06, 2009, 08:57:29 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
I just wouldn't want someone to interpret your earlier post as saying "Only established photographers need apply. If you don't have a portfolio you shouldn't be critiquing". I'm reasonably sure that's not what you meant, but could also see some people reading between the lines and maybe interpreting it that way.

Jeff, You're right. That's not what I meant. Let me state it a different way: If I post a picture that someone criticizes, it may be that the criticism is valid on its face. In other words, the critic may point out something I overlooked. In that case, the critic's status as a critic is meaningless and his criticism obviously is valid. But if the critic brings up something obscure enough that it's not immediately obvious I'd want to know how familiar the critic is with the subject he's addressing. In other words, I'd want to know whether or not he knows what he's talking about. Looking at the critic's portfolio at that point would help me make up my mind. But I'd be stupid to ignore his criticism summarily simply because he doesn't have a portfolio. At that point, unless his suggestion were absurd on its face, I'd probably consider it and maybe try what he's suggesting to see if I agree.

It all comes back to what I said at the beginning. The person posting a picture and receiving a criticism is the one who's going to have to decide whether or not the criticism is valid. No one else can decide that for him. I think Christian said the same thing in a somewhat heated way. Julie also said it in a quite elegant way.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2009, 09:16:23 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
But if the critic brings up something obscure enough that it's not immediately obvious I'd want to know how familiar the critic is with the subject he's addressing. In other words, I'd want to know whether or not he knows what he's talking about. Looking at the critic's portfolio at that point would help me make up my mind.

The problem here is the portfolio may or may not provide useful info, and can even be wildly misleading.  I've seen several examples in the forum where person A assumes person B is completely unqualified to speak authoritatively on a topic, then when they explain why they believe that, person B responds with the information that person A was missing when they made their erroneous judgement.  This shouldn't have to happen, but does because some people make assumptions they shouldn't.

In all my time here, I've looked at one or two people's profiles, and neither time had anything to do with their qualifications or credentials.  I consider those to be social networking look-sees rather than valid research.  If I really felt I had to know more about someone's qualifications, I'd email or message them personally, and more importantly, research them through the Internet.
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« Reply #35 on: July 07, 2009, 12:01:29 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
I've seen several examples in the forum where person A assumes person B is completely unqualified to speak authoritatively on a topic, then when they explain why they believe that, person B responds with the information that person A was missing when they made their erroneous judgement.  This shouldn't have to happen, but does because some people make assumptions they shouldn't.


That's a fair enough point.
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oldcsar
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« Reply #36 on: July 07, 2009, 01:40:24 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
The problem here is the portfolio may or may not provide useful info, and can even be wildly misleading.  I've seen several examples in the forum where person A assumes person B is completely unqualified to speak authoritatively on a topic, then when they explain why they believe that, person B responds with the information that person A was missing when they made their erroneous judgement.  This shouldn't have to happen, but does because some people make assumptions they shouldn't.


Yes, I have seen such examples here and elsewhere. But, I think that this is a case which does not necessarily discredit the value of forum users offering up online galleries of their work. The problem of Person A and B that you have presented addresses the error of making hasty judgments, but hasty judgments on another's claim are sometimes made even when there are no credentials (photos) offered, or when a person offers credentials and the other person does not bother to look at them. But I do think you're making a valid point about human stupidity, and online forums would benefit if people practiced a little restraint before making quick assumptions based upon their own ego or upon limited information at hand.

If a forum user claims that submitted landscape photo 'x' has a poor composition, and that it would be better if object 'y' was not so close to the border, it is useful if the forum user has publicly available photos which demonstrate strong composition, etc. It might not even matter if they are people shots, or still life shots- if the forum user has shots which demonstrate good composition skills, it is reasonable that this information would make a forum user's critique more persuasive. If a forum user does not offer some sort of credentials, this certainly doesn't give them that particular chance for persuasion- but that does not necessarily mean that the critique is off the mark. In my opinion, a critique is successful if someone is won over by the critic's argument, hopefully the person who has submitted the photo. If the critique helps someone improve their own work, and the critic's own credentials helped 'win over' the submitter to that end, then credentials are one of the useful tools for "measuring" critiques.

Quote
I consider those to be social networking look-sees rather than valid research.  If I really felt I had to know more about someone's qualifications, I'd email or message them personally, and more importantly, research them through the Internet.
That's entirely reasonable. I enjoy looking at the galleries that other forum users offer up on their profiles, more often than not I've been impressed with the talent of the users around here.

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stamper
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« Reply #37 on: July 07, 2009, 03:42:50 AM »
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Does the forum posters think that a system of giving points out of ten along with their comments a good thing? It happens in camera clubs. If a poster gives a negative comment about an image they could also "redeem" themselves with a "never the less an 8 out of ten" score or something similar? There isn't such a thing as a perfect image and fault can always be found? I have seen very good images "spoilt" by something that couldn't be avoided but shouldn't detract overall from an excellent image.
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cmi
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« Reply #38 on: July 07, 2009, 03:44:19 AM »
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>>"... it may be that the citicism is valid on its face ..."  
The text I posted quitely assumes in large parts that the issued critiques more or less makes sense.

Quote from: RSL
Jeff, You're right. That's not what I meant. Let me state it a different way: If I post a picture that someone criticizes, it may be that the criticism is valid on its face. In other words, the critic may point out something I overlooked. In that case, the critic's status as a critic is meaningless and his criticism obviously is valid. But if the critic brings up something obscure enough that it's not immediately obvious I'd want to know how familiar the critic is with the subject he's addressing. In other words, I'd want to know whether or not he knows what he's talking about. Looking at the critic's portfolio at that point would help me make up my mind. But I'd be stupid to ignore his criticism summarily simply because he doesn't have a portfolio. At that point, unless his suggestion were absurd on its face, I'd probably consider it and maybe try what he's suggesting to see if I agree.

It all comes back to what I said at the beginning. The person posting a picture and receiving a criticism is the one who's going to have to decide whether or not the criticism is valid. No one else can decide that for him. I think Christian said the same thing in a somewhat heated way. Julie also said it in a quite elegant way.

Russ,

now I feel I am at a point where I can talk. I agree in some parts with you, and in some not. Lets start.

Im not so sure about the general necessarity of that background thing. I say, a sentence clearly can always be dealt with regardless of its origin.

Of course if someone has a site or not, and the quality of his works tells volumes. And of course I might dismiss the point of a text without a background. But then, is this my problem? I think, no. Instead it is the problem of the guy making his statement. He is in responsibility to make his assertion as foolproof as possible. Its not me being responsibe finding out about someone. And even then a background is only useful so much. For example, maybe someone makes brilliant art, but still he might talk rubbish. Or, someone says something I dont like, maybe a background INDEED helps me to understand him, but I STILL might not like it. What now? And in a talk face to face I also cannot interrupt it to make research about the other person. Ok, I might ask.

So while wanting to know a background can be perfectly reasonable at any point, it is not a requirement for anything. The one who makes an argument is instead responsible to invest some care and let his statement stand on its own. If not he runs into the risk being misunderstood. And of course I am challenged to assume good faith also in an ambiguous statements.

And that leads me to the next point, and Im sure we agree here: Of course, if I feel someone has indeed stated something very funny, its only fair to point it out, or to ask about a qualification to be able to make sense of an information, no question about that. When something doesnt make sense, it should be pointed out direct and in all honesty, but at the same time civilised and with respect. And of course then I should expect that I will be questioned the same way, and that should I have dismissed something, it will be pointed out as well, be it only the slightest point.

The problem with this I see here in this subforum (I only want to talk about HERE), that these type of discussions arent really happening. Instead they are quickly escalating, turning into weird shows where everybody seems to misunderstand each other and cant give an inch of his territory finally leading to some types of, I hate to say it, public humiliation. The arguments often heated right from the start, and I have rarely seen someone just acknowledging someone other is right.  

I must confess I dont know how to solve that. I can only say generally: If I issue critique, I should also expect to swallow some, fair is fair. I have to be open to critique if I frequently critique other people or I loose credibility. I should be always open to compromises and never totally set on an issue. And if I see someone doesnt agree in the long term, its better to leave the person alone, to respect that. I have to respect everybody as he is. Ultimately, I cant change anybody, and I also can easily confess I have my problems with some of the issues too. No one is better than anyone regarding this I guess.

All the best


Christian
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cmi
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« Reply #39 on: July 07, 2009, 04:23:06 AM »
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Russ,

I want to say one more thing because it doesnt make much sense to talk around it and I feel its the right moment. First, you are a knowledgeable guy with a big background in photography, and I have gotten great advice from you. But sometimes I experience you a bit as if in fear giving in or loosing territory, insisting. This in my eyes influences how you are viewed and partly depreciates your otherwise very good, spot on and extensive advice. And Im mentioning because your voice here is important to the public.

(Oh well I should not have written it, now Im in fear getting my comment too!!!  )

Nevermind!


Christian


« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 04:34:54 AM by Christian Miersch » Logged
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