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Constructive Criticism

doug anderson

New member
When I teach creative writing I ask to the students to do the following. The same should apply to any other art form.

1. Respond to the piece as a whole. What is the mood, tone, predominant feeling of the piece? What is the author up to?

2. In writing, we talk about structure. In a photo, composition. How do all the parts of the composition add up to a whole? Which does not support the whole?

3. Working from large to small, begin to look at which parts of the piece succeed and which could be removed/revised to make it succeed better.

I think this would help us see what is successful in a photo as well as what does not work. This would be helpful to me. We are, after all, here to help one another.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
When I teach creative writing I ask to the students to do the following. The same should apply to any other art form.

1. Respond to the piece as a whole. What is the mood, tone, predominant feeling of the piece? What is the author up to?

2. In writing, we talk about structure. In a photo, composition. How do all the parts of the composition add up to a whole? Which does not support the whole?

3. Working from large to small, begin to look at which parts of the piece succeed and which could be removed/revised to make it succeed better.

I think this would help us see what is successful in a photo as well as what does not work. This would be helpful to me. We are, after all, here to help one another.
Doug,

I agree completely that, intuitively, story and pictures could be expected to follow similar guidelines and rules. however, in practice, that just doesn't work at all.

I don't think we can use analogy of literature, as we only see it sequently, not as a whole. An ever changing , ( "gestalt"-multidimensional but transient), form containing every aspect of the story, is built up in our brains. The photographic picture, by contrast, allows us to visualize everything at once. Also we can't predict whether or not the small item in a photograph is less significant than larger elements. Size is no de facto characteristic to tell us about importance in picture composition.

So instead, I'd look again at the this thread Bart referenced and continue discussing there as we already have a jump start on this important subject you address.

Notwithstanding that this next bit of fussing sounds extraordinarily pedantic, I'll risk having my head snapped off!

I also have a major problem with the, (IMHO, defensive), modifier, constructive, as that clearly implies that, otherwise, we'd be doing the opposite! To be useful,

  • first we have to choose our most interesting pictures,

  • then tell folk what it's meant for

  • and then allow them to feel free to hurt our darling creations

We don't want only folk praising us to repsond. Others might well fear that we want is favorable criticism only and so be silenced!

Asher
 
Doug,

I agree completely that, intuitively, story and pictures could be expected to follow similar guidelines and rules. however, in practice, that just doesn't work at all.

I don't think we can use analogy of literature, as we only see it sequently, not as a whole. An ever changing , ( "gestalt"-multidimensional but transient), form containing every aspect of the story, is built up in our brains. The photographic picture, by contrast, allows us to visualize everything at once. Also we can't predict whether or not the small item in a photograph is less significant than larger elements. Size is no de facto characteristic to tell us about importance in picture composition.

So instead, I'd look again at the this thread Bart referenced and continue discussing there as we already have a jump start on this important subject you address.

Notwithstanding that this next bit of fussing sounds extraordinarily pedantic, I'll risk having my head snapped off!

I also have a major problem with the, (IMHO, defensive), modifier, constructive, as that clearly implies that, otherwise, we'd be doing the opposite! To be useful,

  • first we have to choose our most interesting pictures,

  • then tell folk what it's meant for

  • and then allow them to feel free to hurt our darling creations

We don't want only folk praising us to repsond. Others might well fear that we want is favorable criticism only and so be silenced!

Asher
OK..., I'm with you on this Asher, but providing the ability to the quoter to attach a photograph on a post, would surely help.... by giving one the ability to only publish what is already published, is surely a restriction to participation.
 
When I teach creative writing I ask to the students to do the following. The same should apply to any other art form.

1. Respond to the piece as a whole. What is the mood, tone, predominant feeling of the piece? What is the author up to?

2. In writing, we talk about structure. In a photo, composition. How do all the parts of the composition add up to a whole? Which does not support the whole?

3. Working from large to small, begin to look at which parts of the piece succeed and which could be removed/revised to make it succeed better.

I think this would help us see what is successful in a photo as well as what does not work. This would be helpful to me. We are, after all, here to help one another.
Besides Asher's reply Doug, a forum is not about "teaching" but rather about "discussing" things... So, the (correct IMO) approach you teach to your students, can only be the approach of some part (that also has the same POV) of the total viewers or participants...
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
OK..., I'm with you on this Asher, but providing the ability to the quoter to attach a photograph on a post, would surely help.... by giving one the ability to only publish what is already published, is surely a restriction to participation.
Theodorus,

Your work does not have to be published, just located on a server. That's just for now.

I just have to dispose of other distracting matters that take on my time. Then we'll host all the images. :)

Asher
 

Martin Stephens

New member
Good critique is the pathway to better photographs for all serious photographers. Without it, advancing is slow, uncertain, and painful.

Many styles of critique exist and they are all valid to some degree. But no matter the style, they must all contain more honesty than flattery!

I think there are two fundamental critiques. One that is the stand alone photograph with no known purpose, the other is where the photographer describes his purpose or intentions, and the critique accounts for that. I like both. Often, I give my purpose when submitting photographs because often I am in experimental mode.

Each critique is one opinion. It's not that unusual for one person to have high praise for what another finds useless. It's up to the artist to merge the information into a useful process.
 
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