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Author Topic: The gentle art of commenting  (Read 3014 times)

Offline greypoint

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The gentle art of commenting
« on: September 08, 2009, 11:58:12 AM »
Am I the only one who finds it hard to comment in anything but general terms on other peoples photos. Sometimes you look at a picture and immediately know what you want to say. Often I'll look once then go back later wanting to add something profound but ending up with a weak 'very nice'. I know the idea is to offer some insightful and deeply constructive remark but do others find the same thing and find it hard to put what you want to say into something that does'nt sound at best banal and at worst pretentious? We're told a photo should speak for itself and not need explanation - so should we need to explain why we like it or does a 'very nice' type comment suffice?



Offline ABERS

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2009, 01:55:33 PM »
I was always told if you have strong feelings about a photograph, one way or the other you should express those feelings as concisely as possible.

Making a comment is always fraught with danger, so like a coward I only comment when the picture hits the spot as far as I'm concerned, and then perhaps I go over the top.

The cowardly bit comes into play when I don't find the image particularly attractive, so I don't comment. :-[

As for being asked for comment and/or criticism then I usually opt out completely. When faced with that scenario I break into a run, when usually I should be advising a severe crop, diagonally of course!  ;)

« Last Edit: September 08, 2009, 01:57:16 PM by ABERS »

Offline irv_b

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2009, 02:02:05 PM »
I'm a bit like you Sue in that sometimes there is a comment to be made but end up sayin "fantastic.........." but I dont mind adverse comments on mine. I think that because this is a photographers site primarily people post to get a reaction to something they've taken which they think is good and really only want a comment to tell them how (if possible) to improve it, so maybe saying that it's "very nice" is all that it needs.
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Offline jinky

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2009, 05:16:31 PM »
Yeah fraught with difficulty. I have seemingly caused offence once or twice with a friend`s pictures who asked for critique when I have been more constructive than I am with strangers. Net effect is I am afraid to say anything more than "nice shot" even to them now and say nothing if I feel there could be improvements.

As long as people are not way over the top and start cropping / adjusting mine and re-posting without asking I`m happy for any comment and see it as learning...  and yet if the wrong person has a pot I am left fuming! That`s the problem with critique - your tolerance levels are proportional to how good you think the person commenting is ;)

Offline SimonW

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2009, 06:09:33 PM »
Yes, it's probably much easier to criticise that it is to produce good work. And often it's a very personal thing - often one doesn't agree with a photo competition judge for example. Can I say: Personally I'd like your picture even better if you did it this way.  - without causing offense?
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Offline bones615

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2009, 06:22:40 PM »
I find it hard to comment because by doing so it implies that I know what I am talking about & I know there are more knowledgable/skillfull people than me here. Even with the anonymous star ratings I will not give low marks for fear of upsetting somebody. I generally base my views on whether or not i like a picture & not so much the technical merit, It would be nice to have feedback (written or stars) on the ones people dont like.

Simon

Offline Zenmer

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2009, 06:42:46 PM »
I generally don't  comment on pictures if the subject is not one that interests me or ! am not likely to try myself, purely because I don't feeel qualified !
I have given  negative comments in the past and been slated for it so in general like others just tend to give vague praise or nothing  :legit:
As with Jinky I was once handed some pictures by an acqaitance for comment, "hey look at these I am rather proud so printed them off"
Well the first was an out of foucus chicken head and the second a car in a layby with a dog poobin right next to it, tried to point these things out nicely and off he went in a huff !!!!
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Offline greypoint

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2009, 06:59:33 PM »
I agree that if you don't like something it's important to explain why and try  not to offend.  However, my initial point was the necessity to have to explain why you like something - quite often I don't really know ::) That's perhaps why we see so many 'great shot' comments!

Offline Eileen

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2009, 07:51:40 PM »
I sometimes find it very hard to put into words what it is that I like about a picture. I persevere but often feel that what I am saying is inadequate as an explanation and I resort to fairly general comments about the composition or the light. It is really difficult but if I see a great picture or a very good one I want to say so. I don't normally worry about whether I'm qualified to comment because in my mind it's not about me but about the picture.

On the other hand I am quite cautious about suggesting improvements, and at such times I do wonder if I am qualified to do so. Normally I only suggest improvements if I look at a picture and think it is nearly there and would improve greatly with a slight tweak, AND if I think the other person a reasonable sort who will take the comment in the spirit it's intended. I am guided a bit by what I would like myself: I am always happy to have suggestions for improvement, and if someone feels minded to take one of my pictures and re-edit then that's fine with me also. It's all part of the great journey of learning as far as I'm concerned. But I know not everyone feels the same so try to be sensitive to what they want.

Offline Simple

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2009, 08:42:30 PM »
Rock and a hard place jumps to mind. Even if people ask for comments (which I assume they do when indicated with the picture) they still can get upset if the comment is not what they expect.
IMO everybody is qualified to comment. You do not have to have a Diploma in photography to give your opinion. Because that is what it is at the end of the day, only one persons opinion. It would help if you have some training in the arts or in photography to be more expressive in why you like a picture or why you do not like it, but all the training gives you is a clearer way to express an opinion.
Your opinion (comment) can be more constructive if you mention what you would change in a picture, but that should be done taking in mind that you do not know the circumstances in which the picture was taken. Limited space, parked cars, limited lighting etc. can often dictate why a picture is made in a certain way.
The difficult thing is that we all have different skill levels and different tastes, but the one thing we have in common is that we all like photography. I for example do not like colour popping (selective colouring), but I do it to loads of wedding/prom pictures, because Joe Public likes it. The difficult thing for us commenting on pictures is, we really need to know the skill level of the person we commenting on. Is it Joe Public or one of the regular Togs on here, and adjust our comments to suit.
The main thing is that from commenting (analysing) other peoples pictures, we learn ourselves nearly as much as from receiving comments on your own pictures.
(Hopes this all makes some weird sense) and yes, I should really make an effort in commenting more like a lot of us  ;)

Offline hevans

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2009, 08:58:08 PM »

I used to comment on photos.

What has been said already I agree with:
  • the comment needs to be at the right level for the relationship/attitude of the photographer
  • it is often difficult to think of anything other than "great shot" to say
  • sometimes it's difficult to find something nice to say
  • sometimes it's difficult to reason why you like/dislike the shot
  • sometimes it's difficult to think of improvements
  • sometimes it's difficult to think of where to start to offer improvements
.

What I don't agree with is the attitude "My own skills aren't developed enough to critique." If you look at the photo, work out why you do/don't like it. Think about it.

What I have learnt, though, is that by looking at other's work and criticising it - looking to see where it does/doesn't work and why - you learn a lot more about your own preferences and how to improve your own techniques. And a lot faster.

We don't learn in a vacuum. We need to have a second opinion/guiding hand/another perspective to see what we've missed ourselves.

A colleague at work has just returned from a holiday in Africa and I've been going through some of her photos with her. Most could do with a bit of cropping to strengthen the composition, and a bit of curves/levels/dodging/burning to really bring up the detail. By showing her what can be done with her own photos, I hope she's appreciated that the photography doesn't stop with the shutter release, but continues on into the editing process. It was very difficult to be diplomatic and instead nurture the enthusiasm.

I was told by a teacher that the most diplomatic critique will have the hard core sandwiched between two compliments. But we don't often have time for that.

Personally, I'm up for any helpful critiquing (this does not include "Great shot" or "Crap shot", they don't tell me anything other than how much you like it). And I really enjoy an alternative viewpoint or suggestion of another way to treat the photo.

H.

Offline spinner

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2009, 09:22:06 PM »
By it's very definition, a comment doesn't need to be either a compliment or a criticism. Critiquing and commenting are different kettles of fish IMHO. Commenting requires no imagination whilst critiquing requires a great deal. I've often dislike a photo without being able to put the feeling to words. Vice versa complimenting.  ::)
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
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Offline greypoint

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2009, 09:30:20 PM »
Yes - perhaps if we don't always think critique but think comment instead then it's possible to simply say you like something without having to go into detail [especially if you find it hard to say just why you like it].I might hazard a remark on composition because that's something that tends to stand out - but all the talk about curves, dodging and burning I'll leave to others :)

Offline hevans

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2009, 09:32:27 PM »
but all the talk about curves, dodging and burning I'll leave to others :)

I'm guessing that you frequently have to dodge the swans. As for burning them, well, we don't want to be accused of over-cooking them, do we?! :)

Offline greypoint

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Re: The gentle art of commenting
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2009, 10:13:25 PM »
No it's the horse manure I have to dodge ;D And I'm always overcooking the highlights ::)

 

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