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  #1  
Old December 25th, 2008, 03:22 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default Should we have a more strict approach?

Hi Everyone,

First let me thank you all on behalf of everyone for the individual efforts in making our very small community work and worthwhile. In the past year, OPF has moved more towards a greater emphasis in quality of photography. The recent work shows this well.

Openness to alternative Ideas: I do have concerns about how we deal with political and social differences. As part of openness, which is so needed for creativity itself and then its appreciation by the rest of us, we must tolerate alternative ideas. So we do not censor well-intended speech but draw the line at anything which demeans or is utterly dismissive.

Anger: In Provocative Thoughts and Images, we have allowed considerable latitude. That's intended as a pressure release valve during times of bombing or mayhem as well as to deal with topics of the day. Sometimes, I've had both side of an argument point out how "off the wall" the opposing views are! Despite warnings about not joining this discussion if one is overly sensitive, I've been asked to remove guys who are "socialist" or "right wing extremists"! We've even had a rare physical threat! Stunning, but true! So, we're not, after all, as tolerant and open as we might believe.

Propaganda: From time to time we get posters putting up what must be deemed propaganda with some cryptic comment and a language we don't understand and then no translation. Or here where the text is obviously a one-sided message with no discussion or context and no photography. At that point, we have obvious propaganda.

Now the issues in that particular graphic art creation are, for sure heartfelt, but there is no context for this and no photography essay by the poster. This being the case, we are not set up to be a base for just slogans. There's no photography and we are, after all about the photograph.

I did not remove the offending thread but really find it disappointing that we don't get photographic essays which explore a social issue and present different sides.

Some Censorship is needed after all! So, failing that, we're generally not going to tolerate further non-photographic threads in Controversial Thoughts and Images. This is not 100% since we might need some discussion on a pressing issue that has impact we cannot ignore. So this is, after all, censorship. Yes, I admit it, but you can circumvent this by presenting balanced photographic essays that don't set one person against another.

We want to explore important issues, but in an open fashion.

Asher
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  #2  
Old December 25th, 2008, 04:43 PM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Asher,

I am afraid that I have to agree with you.

As long as the forum remains open to a broad constituency, which delights me, a part of functioning as a community is an understanding that we treat one another with respect. However, in the internet environment it is doubly important to remember that your friends should not be targets for political diatribes - whether I happen to agree or not. Those I give my friendship to are not to be used to further my cause, but are treasured as special gifts!

In all relationships we earn the respect and trust required to share ideas and views with one another, hopefully with a view to reaching some common understanding and not simply propagandising or proseletysing. I count it a blessing that there are people who participate here where I firmly believe that would be possible if we are fortunate enough to meet some day. Unfortunately, where this understanding of how to relate in a soical, but distant, world is abused then you probably have little option.

As to the quality of photography, yes I love seeing good work of all kinds and some will carry some message. I think that's great. I still believe and hope in the power of the image to transform the world in some way for the good. In this environment though, I would prefer that the images speak for themselves and discussion ensues, rather than being a platform for a non-connected view.

I think a couple of good examples are Fahim's wonderful work from Nepal, which clearly touched him deeply and led to open discussion, but not politically motivated propaganda, and the Nicaraguan coffee grower series, which again was presented without political overtones, but led to discussion and a seeking of understanding about the lives of the coffee harevesters. Both in a personal way.

I recently wrote on another forum that, in my view, the problem with racism and political correctness is that both treat people as amorphous and not as individuals engaged in relationships. I believe that is also the case here when raising or discussing 'controversial' topics.

Regards

Mike
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  #3  
Old December 25th, 2008, 07:00 PM
John Angulat John Angulat is offline
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Default In a word - yes

I signed up to this forum not all that long ago. I was intrigued by the dialogue and interaction between the members. There were compliments and there were criticisms. There were technical evalulations that I thought were so helpful I said to myself "maybe I'd like to be a part of this".
Unfortunately I've lost some of that enthusiasm. The first instance was my posting of a image of a homeless person. That thread turned into some member's personal diatribes relative to the political correctness of the act. Personally, I don't give a crap what you "personally "believe in. Comment on the image or find another forum to vent your personal views.
In the second case the same treatment was given to Doug Earle. The guy simply posted a B&W nude, part of a series he was experimenting with and asked for critique. That post also became the political platform for some member's opinions on everything from women's dignity and rights to whether we can type the word "vulva" in our our threads.
This is out of hand. Individual's personal beliefs and opinions have no place here. Find a political forum if you feel so strongly about these issues. Just don't post them here. If it's not about photography it should stay out of the threads.
Lastly, I agree that you and the moderators have the right and obligation to remove posts that are politically oriented, propaganda driven, hate espousing, etc. Maybe you should consider drafting a "code of conduct" that describes those very rules.
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  #4  
Old December 25th, 2008, 08:43 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Asher,

I am one of the long term members here. Threads about the emotional aspects of imagery have long been a staple here. If there were censorship regarding the emotion generated by a photograph and it's social implications, such as my feelings that a tasteful image would have a reason for nudity and not just be for titillation, as referenced to by the prior post would lose the flavor that OPF has generated in the photographic community. With censorship of emotion, well, it wouldn't be OPF.

Yes, there does need to be some guidelines to keep posts on track but by the same token, if we were all in your living room discussing an image, as long as we were respectful, polite and without malice, we should continue on as we have done the last couple years. Yes, as you see by my signature, political discussions do not belong unless they are appropriate to a photograph submitted for discussion.
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  #5  
Old December 25th, 2008, 09:08 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Angulat View Post
I signed up to this forum not all that long ago. I was intrigued by the dialogue and interaction between the members. There were compliments and there were criticisms. There were technical evalulations that I thought were so helpful I said to myself "maybe I'd like to be a part of this".
Unfortunately I've lost some of that enthusiasm. The first instance was my posting of a image of a homeless person. That thread turned into some member's personal diatribes relative to the political correctness of the act. Personally, I don't give a crap what you "personally "believe in. Comment on the image or find another forum to vent your personal views.
In the second case the same treatment was given to Doug Earle. The guy simply posted a B&W nude, part of a series he was experimenting with and asked for critique. That post also became the political platform for some member's opinions on everything from women's dignity and rights to whether we can type the word "vulva" in our our threads.
This is out of hand. Individual's personal beliefs and opinions have no place here. Find a political forum if you feel so strongly about these issues. Just don't post them here. If it's not about photography it should stay out of the threads.
Lastly, I agree that you and the moderators have the right and obligation to remove posts that are politically oriented, propaganda driven, hate espousing, etc. Maybe you should consider drafting a "code of conduct" that describes those very rules.
John,

Your post is especially valuable. I am going to make a point of meeting you in New York if you're available in the New Year and going over these points as we walk around and photograph everything. I don't think we should mind so much when people give vent to feelings because, after all, pictures after, are supposed to bring ideas to us and make us react.

John, for sure I love beauty. It's so easy and generally uncontroversial. As soon as a social issue is covered there's bound to be reaction. That's healthy. However not to the extent that it constrains new photography.

Re the homeless. There's some who are tragic and ill and others who are down on their luck or laid off for no good reason and no fault of their own. Having compassion is reasonable. However I don't feel guilty photographing folk as long as I don't humiliate them.

The issue is this. Art, at least as I see it, is driven by a passion to invent and create ways to stimulate our senses and or our brains and even to question everything. If that's so, we cannot complain about reactions. The stronger and more effective your photography, expect more reaction.

If someone would say, wow, that super every time, where would we be?

Now if people want to get on a brief soapbox then we can accommodate them a little in Controversial Thoughts and Images but no propaganda or posters from some campaign unrelated to photography.

Impressive photography wakes us up! John, your pictures on the homeless are good enough to get the brain working. That's a measure of their worth, take that as a complement. A worthless photograph will not get that much attention.

The Nude Photography? That was one of the best threads ever. First class photography, a talented model and a series of probing questions on intent and composition. The art was well done and the discussion worthy. Do I fully agree with Kathy? Definitely not! The photography work of Doug Earle is so good that it can take questions and such criticism with not a dropped heartbeat. Still, I moved it off so that the thread would be about art and the nude, not social critique. That way, there's room for reaction but it is moved away from the art and won't dampen it, hopefully. Now several folk objected to socially argumentative post, but after private correspondence, I was supported. We try for the best work and sometimes it may stir people to go over the top in reactions. So be it. I'd rather that than all pretty flowers and sunsets and happy puppies, (although I wouldn't want to miss out on these either)!

Consensus on splitting Threads? So do we have a consensus and understanding on the value of moving away "off-topic" but related issues to their own space?

In any case, in 2009, we plan to take an even stricter intervention policy to keep threads on photography and daughter topics on social values, while valid, in their own thread in the right place. I assure you, that the dilemma we have is simply because these pictures stirred us deeply. It's a measure of more impressive photography that we get more robust reactions.

I'm a good listener. You'll always have my attention!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; December 26th, 2008 at 02:08 AM.
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  #6  
Old December 26th, 2008, 01:53 AM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Asher, I agree - my comment was directed entirely at the soapbox not the photography related threads, which are valuable even when theyc an become difficult.

Mike
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  #7  
Old December 26th, 2008, 05:24 AM
John Angulat John Angulat is offline
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Asher,
I, too agree. It was the "daughter" threads where I found the displeasure. It's there the political discourse began.
Apologies for the brief reply, I've a house full of guests and time limited.
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  #8  
Old December 26th, 2008, 07:05 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
We try for the best work and sometimes it may stir people to go over the top in reactions. So be it. I'd rather that than all pretty flowers and sunsets and happy puppies, (although I wouldn't want to miss out on these either)!
Hear, hear, on all counts.

Quote:
I'm a good listener. You'll always have my attention!
Asher, you are much more than a good listener, you are our Unguru ... (amongst others ;-) )

Bart
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  #9  
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:25 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Asher, you're the boss. Whatever you say goes.

However.....if you ban some political commentary you must ban all. Are you willing to do that? I, for one, will not be able to quietly acquiesce to a no-opinion, no-politics policy if some are allowed and others are not.

Also, art does not exist in a vacuum. Our responses to any stimulus are almost entirely shaped by our experiences, biases, opinions, and values. If you ban all "opinion" or political commentary, you will be left with....pablum.

I'll abide by whatever your decision is, of course. But if I'm silenced, I obviously will not have any contributions.

Again, whatever you say goes. But I would suggest "censoring" obvious trollery, propaganda, or otherwise obvious misuse of the forum. What I do need, though, is a clear statement whatever policy is decided on.
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  #10  
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:19 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Foster View Post
Also, art does not exist in a vacuum. Our responses to any stimulus are almost entirely shaped by our experiences, biases, opinions, and values. If you ban all "opinion" or political commentary, you will be left with....pablum.
Hi Rachel,

As part of a community, I, as publisher, can only represent, at best, aspirations, values, direction and goals for it. The rest is up to individuals to make it beautiful with photography and vibrant with succinct comment.

As I've emphasized, we're not going to suck out the social and political implications of our photography. Just we'll be faster and smarter in dealing with diversions and propaganda. Most often a person who brings in billboards and harangues has not much interest in photography and it's straightforward.

Social implications of our photography and our divergent opinions are fair from those who participate. However, the latter can't overwhelm photography as our interest. If social comment is extensive, it belongs and gets a space on it's own. That's the OPF way. Strident announcements from out of the blue, without photography, get deleted.

So, for 2009, as always, an open forum but for those who participate not for people to come and tag with some propaganda. Above all OPF must be about photography.

No icing on the cake without the cake!

Asher
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  #11  
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:26 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Default Political Views

While I will take responsibility for the thread on respect for Women as models in photography, I did not anticipate the reaction to my viewpoint. I did not take my view as partisan but in defense of those who did not or cannot speak.

What I have objection to here is partisan policital discussion when it is not related to photography and non relative to social implications of photography.
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  #12  
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:37 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Kathy, I thought your points were well made and extremely relevant. That's partly what has me concerned.

Asher, what you've outlined sounds fine. Thanks!
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  #13  
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:57 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Kathy, the OPF way is react as you wish but if it gets traction and substantial attention more than the photography, it deserves and gets it's own separate venue in OPF. That we do anyway with all daughter topics.

Our goal is to is to protect the original threads.
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  #14  
Old December 29th, 2008, 06:14 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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I confess I thought twice about the term "daughter topics." After pondering it a while, I saw how entirely appropriate the term is. Kathy's points did indeed "bear fruit." Like Asher said earlier, that was one of the most useful, thought-provoking threads I've seen on OPF.
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  #15  
Old December 29th, 2008, 06:48 PM
Charles L Webster Charles L Webster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy Rappaport View Post
While I will take responsibility for the thread on respect for Women as models in photography, I did not anticipate the reaction to my viewpoint. I did not take my view as partisan but in defense of those who did not or cannot speak.

What I have objection to here is partisan policital discussion when it is not related to photography and non relative to social implications of photography.
I agree with Kathy in all regards. I support her being able to post a controversial thread about the social implications of a particular style of photography. But I too am a little tired of the "obvious propaganda" posts, and got extremely annoyed at last year's endless thread on global warming, none of which was relevant to photography.

My $0.02 worth
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