Thursday, September 1, 2011

Online critiquing is all a joke

Yesterday was a busy day on Google+. Oh yeah I was able to join Google+ (since it is still on an invitational base only) and I love it.

Somebody in my circles posted a question 'Does owning a camera makes you a photographer and does being a photographer means you need to have the skills and resources to efficiently document others lives?' I had to chime in. Because I do have an opinion about this. SO I reposted the question on my page and we got a decent discussion going.

And then I saw the invite to join Scott Jarvie's and Colby Brown's online real-time critiquing event. So I joined that. Both Scott and Colby are masters in what they do. Both are full-time professional photographers. Scott shoots people (well that's what his Google+ account says) and Colby is a landscape photographer. It was a very interesting event. I could find myself mostly in the well formed arguments when they found something good or bad. But here was the eye opener for me. When they where done critiquing, they invited everyone on the feed to post a link to some of their work and they would randomly pick some and critique those. The guys got bombarded with links (so I guess people really need the criticism). The pictures where far from spectacular. And the critiques where very polite to say the least.

That got me thinking and after some googling I bounced onto this link.

When I read the criticism on this picture it gets me so angry and sad that I just wanna hit something. Like serious people. This is one of the great shots by Henri Cartier-Bresson. One of the great masters ever. If you are starting out in photography. Buy a photo book or two. Learn about the masters. Learn about the history of photography. It will widen you horizon and it will make you respect the hard work by photographers today even more.

When I posted the link on my twitter page, Sarah Fischler – who is a landscape photographer herself and who I am following for quite a while now – posted two more links similar to the previous one. Here they are.

This just makes me even more sad. What are these people thinking? Who do they even think they are?
I'm just glad I did my time at art school. Studying the greats in painting, art, architecture, etc. And then doing it all again in photo school and study all the great masters.


  1. NICE POST- WOW I am shocked at what people are saying about these images and the photographers behind them. I think some of these people need to shoot some film and appreciate what actually goes into creating some of these photographs, might humble a few of them if not ALL!!

    Great POST!!



  2. Hey Jer!
    What's happening on your side of the world?
    Just reading your update in the blog...

  3. Just for the record, Olivier, the two links at "The Online Photographer" are amongst my all time favorites. I think the comments are entirely made up, but they pretty much reflect the average anonymous "crowd sourced" critique. ;)

  4. Alexander, I really HOPE they are made up. And before yesterday I was not aware of them (although they are quite old links).

  5. I agree that while I think these comments were made up, they are also entirely possible and do reflect the attitude of many online places one can receive critique.

    You mentioned Colby Brown who I have been following on Google+ as well. Colby has done a lot for G+ photographers and has now set up the critique circle you may be aware of. I have joined in on this, and I find it useful to offer critiques for those who ask. That is the key though - these people are asking for critiques - and the responses are not anonymous. What I have noticed so far has been positive. I have not always agreed with others on what they have suggested about a photo, but I do think for some photographers, beginners especially, this sort of discussion is quite useful. I did request a critique on one of my photos and while the suggestions were good, they were also drawbacks to that photo I was already aware of. I am not yet sure if this is an exercise that will help me or not.

    Google+ is a very different environment than what you are writing about though. Curious what your take on the G+ environment is in this regard?

  6. Google+ has been so far very professional and very polite. I love the atmosphere there. Very friendly.

  7. Guys, you should take a moment to actually look at what you are commenting on. The Online Photographer article you may notice has 'SA'in the top corner. This means 'Satire Alert', for those whose ability to discern satire has been atrophied or never existed. And if you are a serious follower of photography on the blog, you should be familiar with the OLP. His attitude to anonymous online criticism actually echoes yours....

  8. Hi 'Anonymous'!
    I agree that the author of this blog entry thought this was 'satire'. A little something I admit I did not see. But he should look that word up IMO.

    *copy paste from wiki*
    Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

    So in other words... all the photos are lacking something, right? Maybe it is me but everything in these examples is there for a reason. These photos are no flukes. These are well thought-out compositions.

    If you don't see that then I think the joke is on you for being superficial.

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  17. Scott shoots people (well that's what his Google+ account says) and Colby is a landscape photographer.

  18. he guys got bombarded with links (so I guess people really need the criticism).