If You Have Nothing to Say, Don't Say Anything at All


Been spending a lot of time on here!
May 17, 2011
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This is going to be a little bit of a rant, so be warned.

I often run into one-line comments like "It's Boring" or "I don't get it". I'd encourage everyone to avoid these kinds of critiques. First of all, they're not really critiques. There is no critical thought in announcing your first impressions. A critique should be removed from your personal biases, it should focus on only technique and artistic merit - not your own limitations in appreciation.

Positive one-liners are also annoying, but at least they offer some level of support. "Nice colors" and "Great Job!" type pats on the back don't really convey what a photographer is doing right, or speak of the image entirely, but at the same time I don't think this is really a bad thing, but it'd be much more helpful if we could go into a little more detail about what works and what doesn't.

But negative one liners are just selfish and arrogant. When someone takes a photo, they obviously saw something in the subject that she or he felt was worthwhile and interesting. It's not up to us as the audience to question the validity of the photographers ability to determine a worthwhile subject, rather, it is up to us to appreciate the photographer's world view.

Naturally this isn't always conveyed adequately. But if this is the case, then how specifically should be discussed, rather than spouting off worthless one liners expressing a rather limited opinion.

Now I know that not everyone here has the technical and/or artistic background to relate these things. And that's fine. But maybe such people should spend some time reading other's posts or professional art critics responses in art journals and magazines before posting critiques - or in the very least think "will this comment help me understand the photo/will it help the photographer improve their skills as an artist and craftsperson" before posting.

I don't mean to come across as "anti-newbie".
its not "anti newbie" to try and encourage well thought out C&C on pictures.
Agree completely, and thanks for fighting the good fight - most of us have given up
Sometimes one word says it all...snapshot.

This is all subject to personal opinion. Many people love the work of boring, snapshot shooters like Shore and Eggelston. I hate the snapshot shooters myself.
Boring....... Sorry, couldn't resist :D

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I understand your points and totally agree that negative one liners are crappy and sometimes it's better to say nothing at all. However, the person posting a reply was
moved by the photo as well. (whether good or bad) So the photo stirred up emotion for that person. I know that there are some that post just for "post count".

It sucks getting any negative feedback on a photo but even a "it's boring' or "I don't get it" could make you stop and think about the photo and ask more questions, which can help you improve.

The thing that gets me more is when I post a photo and get 100 views and no responses at all. It may be that they are technically fine but they stir no emotion to have someone comment, therefore, I don't know how to improve on them. At that point you're subject to falling into a trap of not getting any better.
This is all subject to personal opinion. Many people love the work of boring, snapshot shooters like Shore and Eggelston. I hate the snapshot shooters myself.

I am not sure I'd call Eggleston a snapshooter... not familiar with Shore.
I attempt to give more detail, as long as it's within my knowledge base. I do try to avoid giving advice on a photo if I don't yet have enough knowledge to give them the RIGHT advice. I think providing more C&C than what I'm capable of would be a bad thing. Sometimes, I will just say "Nice shot" simply because I like it... if there are things wrong with it that I didn't point out, it's because I don't yet have the experience to spot them and point them out.

Now, if I see a portrait and the subject looks like a smurf, I'll leave some white balance pointers. If I see a photo of a beautiful horse with a stop sign in the background, I'll note that it's a distraction that could be left out... as long as it's something I'm familiar with or have been educated in thus far, I'll do my best to say something useful.
exactly. This is why I don't leave a lot of critique, especially on more commercial studio portrait work. Sometimes I'll see a fashion photo or something that I can comment on the artistic end of things.

But your run of the mill family portrait, I usually stay out of.
Nice rant, unpopular! Atta boy!
Sometimes one word says it all...snapshot.

This is all subject to personal opinion. Many people love the work of boring, snapshot shooters like Shore and Eggelston. I hate the snapshot shooters myself.

Then I'm afraid you will never be happy with the world, most photography is simply about capturing moments- a snapshot.

Snapshooters drive tech; let's face it, there simply aren't enough 'pro' shooters to to pay the manufacturers to invent and then develop all of the really great new cameras out there.

Relax, enjoy life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with helping someone to perfect snap shooting. There is even a good argument that educating the 'masses' on what really good photography is helps the industry in that an educated consumer is a discriminating consumer.
Personally, I believe perception of the viewer counts for something whether they have experience or not. If that weren't the case, nobody would spend any time admiring photos. Now myself, I'd much rather hear what's wrong with or what could be improved upon in my work... that's not to say I don't appreciate someone telling me "Hey, nice shot"... just that I want to learn and I value good feedback. So I see where you're coming from... I agree, negative one liners are garbage... they don't do anything but run someone down... positive one liners however do provide support, as you mentioned... and on this forum, with so many people of different experience levels posting, it's still a learning experience for both photographer and viewer.. and enjoyable one at that. I might say "Nice shot" because I like it and haven't yet developed the skills to see the finer details or flaws... but then someone with years more experience comes behind me, points those out and suddenly I'VE been educated as well as the photographer.. if I hadn't gotten involved at all, I wouldn't have learned anything.
It's great when folks can elaborate their views in writing to give someone who's posted a more comprehensive and informative view or opinion of that which has been presented.

But basically telling people to shut the f**k up if they can't or don't do that, and instead summarize their views into a few words, is pure bulls**t.

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