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Comment & Critique 101
Let’s face it, providing Comment & Critique is tough, very tough. Most of us don’t know how to do it properly so we stay away from it. After all, we could end up offending the other party with our C&C if it contains more critique than comment. Sometimes we don’t know where to begin or have nothing more to say than a simple: “nice picture, I like it”. Or we may feel like we’ll make a fool of ourselves in front of all those resident “gurus” who can be very eloquent and elaborate in their C&C. Whatever the reasons are, by not providing C&C we are not doing anybody any favors at all. I believe that even a simple acknowledgement such as “nice picture” is much better than no acknowledgements at all.
Most importantly, when we start giving C&C we also educate ourselves further. Because we have to stop and think about the pictures first. What emotions does the picture evoke and why? How good is the composition? Is it technically good? By asking these kind of questions and by learning the answers, we also start improving our own photography albeit unconsciously. In the end, this is a win-win situation for all.
So in the hope that more and more OPF members will start providing C&C, I have decided to put together some pointers. My intention is not to educate anybody, far from it. But we may need some guidelines which we can understand and adapt to our own needs. It is just to help us get started. Please feel free to fill in the blanks or discuss freely on this issue. (PS: the structure/method I present is loosely based on the guidelines published by the Dutch Union of Amateur Photographers. I have adapted it according to my own vision. I expect you’ll end up doing the same eventually.)
First some Dos:
1) See the picture as a whole
Start by looking at the picture as a whole. A picture can be made of many extraordinary bits and pieces which deserve our attention. But the photographer has intentionally chosen to include all that we see in his/her piece of art. This total has to be more than the sum of its parts. So looking at the total picture is most important. Only when we’ve done that can we dwell on the details of the parts.
2. Be positive
C&C does not mean that we only have to talk about what we don’t like. Even a bad picture shall have some positive aspects. So start by mentioning what you like. And then move on to the parts which can be improved (notice that I did not say parts which are bad).
How to deliver C&C in a structured way
We could divide our C&C into three main areas
1) The Message & the content
2) Photographical Aspects
3) Technical Aspects
1) The Message & the Content
To me this is the most important part of C&C. This is where we really judge a photo for its essence, stripped from technology or other aspects. This is what makes or breaks a picture: the message and the content. So try and find the answers to the following questions:
2. Photographical Aspects
This is the part when we start talking about photography as a craft. This is almost as important as the message & the content part. Personally, I think that it comes just after the message bit.
Many aspects of photography can be reviewed such as (in random order):
3. Technical Aspects
I think that this part is less important than the other two. Ironically, most people think that C&C is 90% about the technical aspects of a picture. You can see this trend everywhere. Hopefully, you’ll see eye to eye with me. The technical aspects are important since they can break a good picture if the technical execution is terrible. But even when they are excellent, they cannot make up for a picture which is rather lacking in the areas of message, content and photography.
So here are some technical aspects to be reviewed (in random order):
This should give any novice in C&C enough pointers towards getting started. Now please go out and react to others’ pictures. If we all do it, our own pictures will be reacted upon as well.
Thanks a lot for your patience if you’re still with me ;-). Looking forward to your reactions and ideas on this.
Photography by Cem_Usakligil - cem.usakligil.com
Last edited by Cem_Usakligil; October 16th, 2008 at 11:33 AM.