BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
 

I'm going out on a limb here asking....


Is the Constructive Critique section a personality contest? There are a few people who get tons of compliments, and then some people post beautiful pics but barely get any responses. Just wondering, as some of the posts with the most responses, aren't WOW photos either. any ideas? Jess


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8/30/2006 4:53:43 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   Stirrin' it up, aren't ya? I've often asked myself why certain people get 50 to 100 responses, and NONE of it constructive (and the photos sure could use it) just all "Great job." & "Super!", etc. I post there to try - TRY - I say, to actually get constructive critique, not pats on the back (even though those are appreciated). I've come to the conclusion that the ones who garner the most attention must be, well nevermind. I was about to be ugly. You're new here - don't get caught in the "you comment on mine and I'll comment on yours" crowd, because that's all CRAP. How will you ever grow in your photography if all you ever get is dishonest flattery?! Keep shooting, and if you ever need a dose of honest critique, take a shot of something 100 proof or above and drop me a line....


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8/30/2006 6:15:29 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  I think you may have answered your own question. You said, "There are a few people who get ton of compliments... And, that's the rub.

Too many comments are of the OOOH and AAAH variety; too few are in the constructive criticism area. And, that's too bad. It's very hard to cricize someone else's work - fo any number of reasons. But, when I comments a picture or pictures, I try to offer suggestions as to how I think the image might be improved.

Few people are offering pictures they think are bad so, really, unless the "ego trip" is important to you or them.

Although his comments are strong, I tend to agree with Sipho.


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8/30/2006 6:21:51 AM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  THANKYOU for being honest. I figured I wouldn't get any response on this one, or negative if any. I give constructive crit to some of them, but I always give a positive too. I never bash or speak negatively about anyone's pic. But what's up with all of the oooohs and ahhhhhs, unless it's a spectacular picture.

Sipho, I have been keeping up with many of your posts, so appreciate your comments. Thanks, Jess


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8/30/2006 7:11:14 AM

 
Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
chrisbudny.com
  Critique is a toughie on BP, for a lot of people, and probably for a lot of reasons... But I think that word carries a weight & baggage, in no small part because of some folks who, while going beyond a simple "ooh and ahhh" comment, post a comment that shreds the photo, or worse, the photographer. Vs. say, John's approach of "I try to offer suggestions..."---not everyone does that, so their comments can easily come across sounding nasty.

There's definitely a way, maybe an art, to critiquing constructively (vs. destructively!) The flip side, is that even a helpful, well-intentioned critique can be taken as an insult by the photographer... so it is sometimes a catch-22! And, if you see a photo in Constructive Critique, and it has a lot of "oohs and ahhs"---you're probably less likely to feel comfortable saying "I kinda disagree, and think it is out of focus."

I just thanked a BP'er this week, specifically because she left a comment that was very helpful and specific, on a suggested improvement; it was the only "constructive" comment posted on the image, even though I'd started the discussion in Constructive Critique! ;)


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8/30/2006 7:28:33 AM

 
Terry  R. Hatfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2003
  The First Person To Comment Gets To Choose The Category Of How Its Discussed, So If You Didnt Choose It Yourself Then You Might Get Selected For CC When All You Wanted Was A Bit Of Friendly Praise, Thus The Commenters Used To That Particular Way Of Commenting On Your Images Will Continue To Give The Praise. If That Makes Sense To You;-)


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8/30/2006 9:44:41 AM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  Christopher hit the nail on the head when he talked about destructive criticism. It can get nasty when someone takes your critique the wrong way. And ... I think some people ask for critique but really do just want the praise. Some people don't like being told what is wrong with what they're doing. Does it help 'em any? Heck no, of course not. Like Sipho said.

I think you'll get a lot of what you dish out. If you want honest critique, give it. If you want people to tell you your pictures stink and you have no talent, be overly harsh and critical to others. If you want flattery, lay it on thick.


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8/30/2006 2:16:16 PM

 
Mary Anne Frey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2006
  Hi All!
I have wondered the same as Jess sometimes. I have tried to get critiqes on my work at times, and most times receive no comments at all. I am actually looking to know what is wrong because I am so new and want to learn, and I feel that hearing the constructive crit from those who have more experience is the best way for me to learn. I will state that is what I am looking for, and that I can handle whatever anyone gives me and still nothing! I did get some comments about a couple of wedding photos in my gallery that were constructive when I had asked for it, and I realy did appreciate it and took the comments to heart as good advice, and I thanked those that gave it to me.

I do look through the new arrival photos and the new contest entries every night, and if I see something I really like, I will post a comment in "Friendly Praise" just so I can let the person know how much I like their work.

I do not make comments on others work who are looking to improve, because I feel that I do not have the experience or the correct information to provide on how to improve a picture.

I am really pleased with all that I have learned by just reading the posts and also the information that people include when they post their photos. This site is a good learning tool just by reading, even if you don't get a critique!

Mary Anne


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8/30/2006 5:58:43 PM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Sipho, You changed your avatar...how come? Jess


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8/30/2006 6:10:00 PM

 
Tamera S. Phillips
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/28/2005
  I actually comment on both types but if I give CC I usually try (not always) send the person an email with my suggestions just to be nice I guess. I have received CC this way and find I appreciate it. I don't always comment in response to everyone who leaves me a comment either although I may actually look at their gallery. I'm not caught up in saying something nice just to "be nice". If someone asks me for CC I'm happy to help out although I don't feel qualified most times. Hope that helps.


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8/30/2006 6:22:01 PM

 
Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004
  I feel like most of the others, Tell me what you don't like about an image, and make suggestions on how to improve the image if you do not like it, PLEASE just don't just compliment it, Tell me what you liked about it.


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8/30/2006 7:47:42 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I, too, feel that if there is a problem with a picture it should be pointed out to make the photographer better, and if it's really great, then it deserves as many compliments as it can get!

Really, there are some photographers on this site who are more well known than others and who comment on many, many pictures, so people in turn check out their galleries and comment there. Since most people on this site are careful not to offend anybody, they are likely to make pure compliments on even a so-so picture. I think that's what leads to the unbalanced comment thing.

Ariel
ScrattyPhotography
ScrattyPhotography Blog


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8/30/2006 11:35:24 PM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  Jessica -

OOOH! Your picture of Balboa Park Garden is so, AAAH! !!!!!!!

Now, for some constructive criticism cause the picture isn't so great -

The image too busy - there is no clear subject. The lower hedge line, though a diagional [usually a good thing] takes the eye right out of the picture to the right, and the lower middle.

It's unclear whether the tree in the center of the shot is primary, or the red and white flowers, or the structure.

Colors compete. What's the metal fence doing in the center of the picture?

There needs to be a person in the photo to give something more of interest.

All of the trees in the background have been cut off!

Other than these comments, OOOOH and AAAH !!!


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8/31/2006 5:26:36 AM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  See John, I can take it...thank you! No one said anything, so how would I know ALL of those things were wrong!!! LOL. Ok, point taken. I really have learned alot while being on here, now I just have to remember to apply them when I'm out in the "field". I will have to keep all of these things in mind when I'm composing. The Balboa Pk pic ws taken in May of this yr, so hopefully will have learned more by now. thanks! Jess


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8/31/2006 5:55:44 PM

 
Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
Jessica, you did the right thing to post it here. If you ask for good constructive critiscms in the discussion thread, you will receive honest opinions from good folks most of the time. It's best to attach a photo or two in the thread if you can.

I wish it works on the normal photo discussion channel but as I said above, it has not worked well, which you have already pointed out, too. It's the fact that friendly praises (more the better) are more widely accepted general practice.


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8/31/2006 7:42:51 PM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  Jess you are correct in raising this issue. I had never looked at the critique section until I read this thread. It is difficult to be critical of someones work.


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8/31/2006 8:06:54 PM

 
Wendy P
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2006
  I can understand both sides of the issue. I've been practicing photography for 4 years now, and I will be the first to say...a lot of my work isn't up to par and even though I can be overly critical of my own work, hearing someone else's opinion often helps. However, in my opinion, if you can't take criticism, then you shouldn't be displaying your work for the world to see. There's a fine line between telling someone "Your work is crap" and "here are some areas where I think you need improvement. I for one welcome comments like these, ones that would help me grow in my art, and I think I have had maybe 2 people actually CC my work. The friendly praise and pats on the back are always nice, but I would still like to hear other people's opinions and suggestions on how to improve. I don't mind giving away what photography secrets I know if it helps someone else improve their art.


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8/31/2006 8:22:33 PM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  I appreciate your honesty and views shared here on this thread. I know there is a forum called what's wrong with this image. Maybe I should spend some more time there instead? At least there it sounds like there would be some honest advice too?

Jess


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8/31/2006 9:44:28 PM

 
KV Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/25/2005
  As for me, I like what I like, mine or others and only post to encourage a photo I like. Some great photos get over looked because they are new or not friends or in a club. I really don't like the "I post on yours and you post on mine" game because it becomes a contest to get the most posts, doesn't make the photo good. I don't like some of those photos that get alot of posts but its personal taste and I am not going to go and say I don't like it. I don't spend all day on the computer waiting for a chat on a photos or post on others, I work 12 hour days, its waste of life, I don't have time when I'm off of work to do it either. There are some very nice folks here, all love photography, enjoy friendships and to learn from each other. Some of the other sites give nothing but slams on photos. Some critiques get out of hand and they do nothing but put down photos. I had one guy tell me he never uses photo altering softwarek. He lied. He uses it just not very good at it so all I learned was he wasn't very honest, bout all I learned from his criticism. You can post on mine or not, doesn't matter to me either way.


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9/1/2006 4:43:22 AM

 
Judyann Plante
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2005
  Jess, I know it can be frustrating when you are looking for suggestions on how to improve and all you get is "great shot" comments. While it is nice to get encouragement, you have to wonder whether the person is sincere or if they are just trying to get more people to comment on their photos. The way that I use the "friendly praise" is to look at the comments in which people say what they like about the photo. This has helped me to see what I am doing right and given me clues on what I need to improve on.

I give mostly positive comments because I am fairly new at this and don't feel I know enough to tell them how to improve the things that I see wrong with an image, in most cases. But I try to avoid the "great shot" type of comments and to be honest about what I see as good about a shot. If I don't like anything about it, I just don't comment.

I do comment on some people's submissions just about every day. Some I just admire greatly and learn so much from studying their work. And I value their opinions on what I am doing. Others I have developed a relationship with and we are growing and learning together and trying to encourage one another. It is fun to see what they are doing and how they are improving.

One thing I have noticed about "constructive critique" is that if you just say "What's wrong with this?" or something to that effect, most people will just tell you how wonderful it is. But if you ask for opinions on specific elements, you get more honest answers and helpful suggestions. (Notice John's criticism of your photo was mainly about composition).

One thing to realize about some of the photos posted in "Constructive Critique" is that although the photographer may have asked for critique to begin the thread, most of their "friends" are commenting from the contest entry pages, and so are either playing the "game" or just trying to encourage rather than taking the critiquing seriously.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

Judyann ><>


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9/1/2006 6:52:46 AM

 
Deb James
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/29/2006
  Jess, I've sometimes wondered that myself. I've seen snapshot type images get 50-60 responses and have often wondered why. But then I started to notice the images were consistently from the same photographers. I usually just skip those and go onto the photogs who are truly asking for assistance. Most of the time I don't feel qualified to critique an image, but on occasion I will.

I more than welcome constructive criticism especially when I ask for it. How else will I learn?? Of course praise is a wonderful ego booster, but false praise doesn't do anyone any good.

I am really glad I found this site though. I've learned a lot and have gained a lot of creative inspiration from many of the galleries I've seen.

Keep shootin'!


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9/1/2006 10:00:24 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  "You cant handle the Truth!"


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9/1/2006 10:27:41 AM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Remember BP is primarily a site for amateurs and a good share of the people who may offer an opinion don't know what is wrong with it. The praise isn't necessarliy fake or insincere, it's for want of a better term, uneducated.


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9/1/2006 10:42:25 AM

 
Tami Rook
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/26/2006
  Hello Jessica,

You and I joined around the same time, I do understand your heartfelt feeling. As a new member it seems so hard to get anybody to look at your work and give you a helping hand on how to improve or obtain what you are trying to. Not to lessen your valid feelings, Watching this board I have asked the same question why is it that I ask questions and cannot seem to get any answers if any. What I have noticed is that we are new, this board has been going for quite some time, there are clearly friendship that have grown, there are respectful insight that has been proven. It takes time to gain trust and friends… this is not much different then being a new kid at school, it takes time for those kids to notice you are here (I know it sounds harsh, but it is real life reality) time heals. As for the CC and people always saying “Good Job” “Wow nice photo”
I have to say I agree with

JUDYANN when she said “I give mostly positive comments because I am fairly new at this and don't feel I know enough to tell them how to improve the things that I see wrong with an image”

In addition, when people do give good CC it is taken in anger. People do get upset because they only want to hear “way to go” since all of us are unsure of what will offend somebody and what will be taken as good advice people just play it safe. I do understand your feelings however, we too with time will gain friends here and grow as artists.

Thanks Tami


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9/1/2006 11:27:23 AM

 
Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
Actually I learned a lot by viewing other good photographers' work. Some used to post the tech details in the description area. I read them and tried to understand the technique he or she used. Also, make note of the shooting environment, the time of the day, the lighting condition, etc...
This method actually works whole a lot better than you think. When you see some photos that impress you, study them, and email the photographer asking for more information, especially tech details, including lens(es), filters, and props used if any. Many people are really good and very supportive of people who ask.
Try it. - Nobi


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9/1/2006 12:57:24 PM

 
Jane M
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2005
  Another thing to bear in mind is that there are a number of Yahoo Groups (or equivalent) where members share links to each others photos and tend to get each other commenting on them. It may be that some on these groups view BP photos only this way and not through browsing all the entries, so they may not even be seeing your photo in the first place!


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9/1/2006 1:06:07 PM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Dennis, Kerry, and today Tami, have sent me private emails, and I have found those helpful. I have actually made a favorites folder for BPers galleries that I really admire. Especially if they have a lot of finalists, or placements in them. I do find that helpful for studying the elements that win. I also click on every persons gallery, that I haven't already looked at previously, and then will still go back and look again. some people's galleries are absolutely incredible, and wonder "how they did that"! Some have incredible colors, and some have wonderful PS work done to them. There's so much to learn, but i'm willing! Thanks for all of the ideas about looking at others pics too.

How can you tell where a person is posting a comment from? Judyann mentioned that some are posted from the contest page? TIA..........Jess


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9/1/2006 2:21:47 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  If you want some truthful critique, head over to www.photosig.com. Some of those guys are brutal but that site is dedicated to CC so the majority of them give some really great advice. And usually I have gotten 4-5-6 different opionions and different views on things so it's a very helpful place. I just come here to chat with friends and sometimes upload one into the contest but for critiqing (sp?)this isn't the best of places to learn.


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9/1/2006 10:26:06 PM

 
Sherry S. Boles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2005
  A lot of people have been around here a long while and have gotten to know lots of others...Some of these people very much enjoy the social interaction of commenting. Instead of constructive critique, the comments are more of a supportive nature. These people may not really be interested in if their composition is off...they are just interested in sharing the photos with friends. Without knowing the person, it's hard to separate the happy snapper from the beginning serious learner by the photo alone. I think this is one thing that discourages general critiques ~ The happy snapper probaby won't appreciate the critique and you don't know which is which.

Another point: I know that LOTS of critiques that happen BEHIND THE SCENES. As people develop these friendships, they also find people whose opinion they respect and these people offer critiques which are never seen by the BP public. These personal critiques take place ALL the time.


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9/3/2006 12:30:01 AM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Sherri, you've just repeated the main idea...I and others are newcomers, and others have established realtionsips, and no one knows what we are looking for.

I will put it out there that I am interested in obtaining serious help by others. I don't want to be bashed and put down, but I would definately appreciate critiques by more experience people on here. In the meantime, if I get to build those relationships too, that would be awesome!

I've already gathered that a lot of serious stuff is done offline, and have had some offers to do so. Jess


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9/3/2006 6:22:14 AM

 
Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004
  I agree with Sherri about some critiques never being seen by the BP public. Some of the best (most helpful) critiques I received were by email. I have also responded to requests for critiques by email to the person rather than posting a comment that may may be interpeted by some as being harsh or rude. When it is only meant to help. Recently a BP member responded by email w/an edited version of my photo, I appreciated it and learned from it, If he posted it on line I anm sure it would have started a firestorm of comments by people who may think that what he did was a sin. I may start to include the phrase"editing allowed" when posting images for critique. My skin is thick and I want to improve.


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9/3/2006 8:36:50 AM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Hi Mike, my waterfall picture on another thread that I posted was "edited" by another person on here, and I didn't mind at all. I found that very helpful also. To see what a pic "should " look lilke was good. Jess


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9/3/2006 7:19:21 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I bet the same person edited both. :-)


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9/3/2006 7:42:13 PM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Thank you Dennis! J.


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9/3/2006 8:09:58 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Jess, I think it's possible a lot of people enter the contest just for fun and couldn't care less about critique. I'm one of those people, but I also do not want people commenting on my photos because of "comment debt." I even had a blurb in my gallery for a while telling folks my gallery was a "no comment debt zone" which was completely misunderstood. What I meant is I didn't want people commenting on my photos just because I had commented on theirs, but how several people understood it was just because they commented on mine didn't necessarily mean I would comment on theirs so they'd put in the comment it was ok if I didn't return the favor :o). I ended up removing it.

When I compliment a photo it's because I like it. I don't want to go to the trouble of explaining what it is I like about a photo so I don't go to the trouble. I just want the person to know I saw their entry and appreciated it, thus they get a "great shot" type of comment from me.

I've offered critique a few times by email and was told there was nothing wrong with the image I tried to help with. You'd be surprised at the amount of people that do not want constructive critique. Fine with me. There's not enough hours in a day to critique all the snapshots entered here. IF I wanted critique I'd take a course. I personally would rather an experienced instructor take apart an image. Not that someone like John S. didn't do a fine job of critiquing Balboa Park but more because you'll find people critiquing then when you go view their gallery you'll find pages of snapshots which always leaves me wondering what gives them the expertise to critique in the first place???

This site isn't hard to figure out. If you get a lot of comments it's because you've spread yourself around :o).

Happy shooting...and critiquing ;)!


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9/4/2006 5:58:20 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Justin G. had a great idea if anyone is wanting serious critique and Sherry Boles explained the mindset of many people here perfectly.

I just thought of a member here who apparently feels the same way as many of you...they seemed tired of the "nice shot" type of commenting and decided to go for "brutally honest" instead. It wasn't well received by the "happy snappers" and while a couple of images in this person's gallery are brilliant most of their photos do not give them the credibility to critique. This is probably why you don't see too much critique. Most of us probably know we're not qualified to do critique. I know I'm not.


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9/4/2006 6:21:37 AM

 
Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004
  Maybe BP should make it so that only the photographer can post an image in Critique,This way the only people who truly want their images critiqued will get it. Also how about a guideline that responders must follow, such as stating what is good or bad about the image, not just general praise.


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9/4/2006 3:45:33 PM

 
Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2006
  Thanks Sharon for your input. I find that I wouldn't probably make a great critiquer either, but I can tell if the color is off, or the horizon isn't level, and I tend to stick with the basics if I do give a critique. I really also try to give a positive too, just like in the administrative world. "If you knock somebody down, make sure you pick them back up!" Jess


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9/4/2006 3:58:14 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Mike, I think that is an excellent idea! It would be really nice too if we could delete obnoxious comments ourselves rather than bother already overworked BP staff.

True, Jess. Just about anyone can tell if a horizon is crooked but the last time I mentioned in a Q&A something to that effect as well someone pointed out a shot to me where they had taken a crooked horizon on purpose LOL. Ya just never know :o)!


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9/4/2006 4:33:11 PM

 
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