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12/01/2011 10:11:05 AM · #1
In voting on challenges I vote for photographs, and not for photography.

That explains my Average Vote Cast, which is about 4.4 and has occasionally attracted some stridently disapproving comments.

The reason I draw the distinction between photographs and photography is this: I’m very interested in photographs, but I’m barely at all interested in photography for its own sake.

This means that when I review my votes after the challenge results are posted I find that I have rarely scored the more popular photographs very highly. My own highest votes nearly always go to photographs that finish overall in the last half of the pack, because that’s the inevitable fate of most of the more adventurous – and thus for me the more interesting – photographs.

Mine is a marginal point of view, I know. But it’s definitely not (as has been suggested more than once) a ‘superior’ or elitist position. It’s just a different position, reflecting my own different expectations from DPC.

Most people at DPC want to take popularly successful pictures, so their voting reflects their identification and assessment of the kind of photographs that they themselves aspire to take. For them, the higher an image scores in the voting, the ‘better’ it is. And that’s a perfectly legitimate rationale. It’s just not mine.

So how does my own voting rationale work? I first sort the challenge entries into three groups:

Score 3: Pictures that are actively offensive.
This includes clichés, twee and syrupy subjects, pointlessly derivative pictures, as well as pictures that are a celebration of the photographer and not the photograph. I make it a 3 because I want to discourage these pictures.

Score 5: Pictures that are inoffensive, but of no consequence.

This includes pleasant but otherwise unremarkable pictures. ‘Normal’ pictures, I suppose.

Score 7: Pictures that interest me, and that I want to consider again.

Then I review all the 7s to find my own top three, and adjust their scores to an 8, a 9 and a 10.

That’s it. My personal criteria give almost no weight to overtly skilful photography, because to me that’s rarely very relevant to the appeal of a picture. I’m not saying that I vote skilful photography (including its post-processing) down, but if that’s all that a picture has to offer then to me it’s a picture of no interest.

All this raises the question of whether DPC is a better place or a worse place for having a contrary bastard like me (and some others like me) having an influence on scores in challenges. I would argue that it is. Just as it is a better place for having the many folks who see things quite differently from me. As long as we all vote consistently and fairly by our own lights, it's all to the good.

And that in turn raises the perennial gripe from the challenge scores forums of ‘Why won’t people explain their low votes?’ I’d suggest that for me to do so is pointless. If I vote a wildly popular picture as a 3 because I think it doesn’t satisfy my own expectations – even though it may well exactly satisfy the expectations and aspirations of the photographer and his/her target audience – how would a comment reiterating my own appreciation criteria help either of us? There will be no meeting of minds. And nor should there be. It’s two people with quite different agendas.

Consensus is nearly always a bad, unproductive, mediocrity-embracing thing. And never more so than in art.


12/01/2011 10:23:35 AM · #2
Good on yer.
12/01/2011 10:26:21 AM · #3
Originally posted by ubique:

And that in turn raises the perennial gripe from the challenge scores forums of ‘Why won’t people explain their low votes?’ I’d suggest that for me to do so is pointless.

It would explain a lot to me. Instead of feeling that you thought my entry stunk, I would know that either it just failed to connect with you, or you found it cliche.

An interesting read and it encourages me to keep doing what enthuses me personally, even if the collective does not put it on a pedestal.

My own votes tend to line up broadly with the final scoring. However, there are always a fair number of photos I score high that average in the mediocre range because they connect with me on a personal level, or I find them intriguing and dwell longer. A technically poor image that makes me stop to examine it closer tends to get a higher vote because something about it that grabbed my attention. This is probably what the photographer also saw in it.
12/01/2011 10:35:25 AM · #4
Originally posted by ubique:

Consensus is nearly always a bad, unproductive, mediocrity-embracing thing. And never more so than in art.

This means that if you were scoring paintings instead of photographs you would give 3s to many Leonardos, Rembrandts etc i.e. all those that were successful with the crowds in their own time. Surely popularity does not "nearly always" equal mediocrity! [shaking my head in disbelief]
12/01/2011 10:38:20 AM · #5
Every so often we have to read this:

Consensus is nearly always a bad, unproductive, mediocrity-embracing thing. And never more so than in art.

At DPC we mark pictures and we give awards so the above sentence might not apply. But our consensus here shall not be a regular, popular consensus since we all take photographs and therefore we belong in a large sense to a special group with a different purpose in mind than pleasing the majority over there since we are a minority anyway. Or so I hope. Therefore, Paul's score of 3 and & 5 shall be our collective criteria.

Message edited by author 2011-12-01 10:40:36.
12/01/2011 10:43:37 AM · #6
When exactly does a photograph transcend and blossom into the realm of art? But, I get that you vote accordingly...;-D
12/01/2011 11:33:07 AM · #7
Very interesting, Paul. You've written about this before, and I appreciate the refresher.

I would argue, however, that "clichés, twee and syrupy subjects , pointlessly derivative pictures, as well as pictures that are a celebration of the photographer and not the photograph" also applies to the genre we call PH images on DPC. For my sensibilities, many "alternative" images - which are comprised mostly of blur, tonal variations, grain, etc., without any apparent "subject" - are also gratuitous aggrandizing of the photographer's contrariness, and not necessarily "good" or even "inventive" photographs. In every realm, there are gems, yawns, and clunkers :-)
12/01/2011 11:36:48 AM · #8
Originally posted by ubique:

...That explains my Average Vote Cast, which is about 4.4 ...


What? You are a troll?
12/01/2011 11:41:45 AM · #9
Originally posted by Dead Poet's Society:



INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY

Keating sits at his desk at the front of the classroom and opens up one
of his books.

KEATING
Gentlemen, open your text to page
twenty-one of the introduction. Mr.
Perry, will you read the opening
paragraph of the preface, entitled
"Understanding Poetry"?

NEIL
Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans
Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand
poetry, we must first be fluent with
its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech.
Then ask two questions: One, how artfully
has the objective of the poem been
rendered, and two, how important is that
objective. Question one rates the poem's
perfection, question two rates its
importance. And once these questions have
been answered, determining a poem's
greatest becomes a relatively simple
matter.

Keating gets up from his desk and prepares to draw on the chalk board.

NEIL
If the poem's score for perfection is
plotted along the horizontal of a graph,
and its importance is plotted on the
vertical, then calculating the total
area of the poem yields the measure of
its greatness.

Keating draws a corresponding graph on the board and the students
dutifully copy it down.

NEIL
A sonnet by Byron may score high on the
vertical, but only average on the
horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on
the other hand, would score high both
horizontally and vertically, yielding a
massive total area, thereby revealing the
poem to be truly great. As you proceed
through the poetry in this book, practice
this rating method. As your ability to
evaluate poems in this matter grows, so
will - so will your enjoyment and
understanding of poetry.

Neil sets the book down and takes off his glasses. The student sitting
across from him is discretely trying to eat. Keating turns away from
the chalkboard with a smile.

KEATING
Excrement. That's what I think of Mr. J.
Evans Pritchard. We're not laying pipe,
we're talking about poetry.

12/01/2011 11:43:01 AM · #10
Originally posted by tanguera:

I would argue, however, that "clichés, twee and syrupy subjects , pointlessly derivative pictures, as well as pictures that are a celebration of the photographer and not the photograph" also applies to the genre we call PH images on DPC. For my sensibilities, many "alternative" images - which are comprised mostly of blur, tonal variations, grain, etc., without any apparent "subject" - are also gratuitous aggrandizing of the photographer's contrariness, and not necessarily "good" or even "inventive" photographs. In every realm, there are gems, yawns, and clunkers :-)


Of course. I'd thought that was the inescapable corollary of my post. My point really was that I know where the low votes I get come from, and so I don't need to ask why.
12/01/2011 12:01:23 PM · #11
Originally posted by ubique:

And that in turn raises the perennial gripe from the challenge scores forums of ‘Why won’t people explain their low votes?’ I’d suggest that for me to do so is pointless.


I admire your voting. I wish people would take more time to appreciate the photograph instead of the photography. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good. Art is a completely subjective concept. However, if you don't comment, you're robbing people at a different way of looking at their photograph. If they don't ever hear your opinion, the can't take it into consideration. Critiques, whether I agree with them or not, are always welcome in my work. Sometimes it's a hard pill to swallow but ultimately I want to know how my photographs come across to others. A bad critique on a photograph I find good will help me view it from another angle, which is ALWAYS a good thing for artists. No one would grow otherwise!

And, really as a whole, all my thoughts on the subject are summed up in my quote by Douglas Adams in my signature below...
12/01/2011 12:11:48 PM · #12
Wonderful post.....brave, too! LOL!!!

It's interesting to me the different and varied tastes and styles I've come to see and know here at DPC. Like the French say....."Vive la difference!" Although originally used to remark on the gender differences, it's also applicable in this application where there are well-founded tastes and styles in the way that the photogs here both shoot and perceive others' shots.

I don't generally shoot much of anything that would rate more than a "Meh" from Paul, nor for that matter, from Don ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' posthumous, yet having been here for a week or two, I'd have to say that I have learned as much, if not more, from the two of them as anyone I've been exposed to here at DPC. And that's BECAUSE of their different outlook on the art of photography. I think I'm more technically proficient than I am artistic. I have found that these two have expanded my ability to see things differently such that I vote differently than I did a couple of years ago.

I was recently amused to have proof of this with my last challenge entry.....I knew it wasn't going to score all that well, but I liked it on a number of levels, and since it's my lovely girlfriend doing what she loves, I went with it.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1485/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_984843.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1485/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_984843.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I got comments expressing interest and pleasure at the image, and to my great delight, it got a posthumous gallery space. There was a smattering of comments from people whose opinions I admire as well.

So..... Over time, I have learned, with help, to be more technically skilled, thanks to people like my original mentor, Sean ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' cutlassdude70, and Robert ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Bear_Music, and because of folks like Paul and Don, I've also learned how to SEE images differently.

And isn't that truly why we're here in the first place?
12/01/2011 12:34:42 PM · #13
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

And that's BECAUSE of their different outlook on the art of photography. I have found that these two have expanded my ability to see things differently such that I vote differently than I did a couple of years ago.


Jeb, I'm puzzled by this paragraph. Wouldn't a true mentor deepen and expand the external expression of your own (and already perfect) artistic inner vision? This paragraph implies almost a conversion process with the stamp of another artist's vision across your own.

Hmmmmm...
12/01/2011 12:48:32 PM · #14
Originally posted by hihosilver:

Originally posted by NikonJeb:

And that's BECAUSE of their different outlook on the art of photography. I have found that these two have expanded my ability to see things differently such that I vote differently than I did a couple of years ago.


Jeb, I'm puzzled by this paragraph. Wouldn't a true mentor deepen and expand the external expression of your own (and already perfect) artistic inner vision? This paragraph implies almost a conversion process with the stamp of another artist's vision across your own.

Hmmmmm...


I don't think that necessarily follows. Sometimes we need someone to open our eyes, to show us what we had not noticed before. The history of art, indeed, is full of this kind of stuff. Nobody goes it entirely alone, nor should they even aspire to.

R.
12/01/2011 01:05:30 PM · #15
Originally posted by hihosilver:

Originally posted by NikonJeb:

And that's BECAUSE of their different outlook on the art of photography. I have found that these two have expanded my ability to see things differently such that I vote differently than I did a couple of years ago.


Jeb, I'm puzzled by this paragraph. Wouldn't a true mentor deepen and expand the external expression of your own (and already perfect) artistic inner vision? This paragraph implies almost a conversion process with the stamp of another artist's vision across your own.

Hmmmmm...
I am puzzled by your comment. It sounds dismissive of Paul's and Don's positive influence on DPC photogs.
12/01/2011 01:05:32 PM · #16
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

I don't think that necessarily follows. Sometimes we need someone to open our eyes, to show us what we had not noticed before. The history of art, indeed, is full of this kind of stuff. Nobody goes it entirely alone, nor should they even aspire to.

R.


Puppy Bear, I'm not addressing going "entirely alone." I'm just wondering about the difference between a mentor who helps to bring out another person's vision rather than imposing their own stamp and also about the internalization effect of a mentor upon another person's vision?
12/01/2011 01:05:58 PM · #17
Originally posted by MargaretN:

Originally posted by ubique:

Consensus is nearly always a bad, unproductive, mediocrity-embracing thing. And never more so than in art.

This means that if you were scoring paintings instead of photographs you would give 3s to many Leonardos, Rembrandts etc i.e. all those that were successful with the crowds in their own time. Surely popularity does not "nearly always" equal mediocrity! [shaking my head in disbelief]


That's a complete misreading. He's talking about a group of people who all have the same taste. He's not talking about an image that appeals to different people even if they have different tastes.
12/01/2011 01:10:28 PM · #18
Originally posted by MargaretN:

I am puzzled by your comment. It sounds dismissive of Paul's and Don's positive influence on DPC photogs.


How silly! Any question of mine is rarely a dismissal, but rather an invitation...;-)
12/01/2011 01:11:39 PM · #19
Originally posted by hihosilver:

Originally posted by MargaretN:

I am puzzled by your comment. It sounds dismissive of Paul's and Don's positive influence on DPC photogs.


How silly! Any question of mine is rarely a dismissal, but rather an invitation...;-)
To what?
PS Your post came across as very patronizing.

Message edited by author 2011-12-01 13:13:20.
12/01/2011 01:12:35 PM · #20
Originally posted by hihosilver:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

I don't think that necessarily follows. Sometimes we need someone to open our eyes, to show us what we had not noticed before. The history of art, indeed, is full of this kind of stuff. Nobody goes it entirely alone, nor should they even aspire to.

R.


Puppy Bear, I'm not addressing going "entirely alone." I'm just wondering about the difference between a mentor who helps to bring out another person's vision rather than imposing their own stamp and also about the internalization effect of a mentor upon another person's vision?


That is a real concern. In fact, a critique I've heard from many teachers about Dead Poets Society is that Keating has precisely this problem: he is imposing his views of poetry instead of letting his students discover it. The real teacher that this is based on was a history teacher and I hear he was much much better in that regard.

Don't forget, however, that there is already a pressure on this site to give up your "inner vision" and go along with the pack. So having people like Paul who express other visions is probably doing more good than harm.
12/01/2011 01:19:06 PM · #21
Originally posted by posthumous:

That is a real concern. In fact, a critique I've heard from many teachers about Dead Poets Society is that Keating has precisely this problem: he is imposing his views of poetry instead of letting his students discover it. The real teacher that this is based on was a history teacher and I hear he was much much better in that regard.

Don't forget, however, that there is already a pressure on this site to give up your "inner vision" and go along with the pack. So having people like Paul who express other visions is probably doing more good than harm.


Exactly what I was wondering. ;-)

Weighing the "good" against the "harm" is not for me to judge or even patronize.

I'm merely curious. Thanks!
12/01/2011 02:02:14 PM · #22
Those are interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing them.

However, I am a bit confused by this:

Originally posted by ubique:


And that in turn raises the perennial gripe from the challenge scores forums of ‘Why won’t people explain their low votes?’ I’d suggest that for me to do so is pointless.
If I vote a wildly popular picture as a 3 because I think it doesn’t satisfy my own expectations – even though it may well exactly satisfy the expectations and aspirations of the photographer and his/her target audience – how would a comment reiterating my own appreciation criteria help either of us? There will be no meeting of minds. And nor should there be. It’s two people with quite different agendas.


Here you make two distinct statements.
First a general one, you think commenting on low scores is pointless.
Then a second one, not belonging to the target audience of the images which score higher, you score those low assuming the photographer will know that your low score (perhaps all low scores received?) only comes from opposition to a pretty mainstream picture.
You also seem to assume that the photographer would not give a damn about your opinion because after all her agenda is different from yours.

As for the first point, I think it only holds well if you really only score low probable ribbon pictures or thereabout. As somebody who doesn't care about votes, independently from my admittedly low skills, I would be immensely grateful if you would share your reasons behind a 3 (or any other vote, as for that).

As for the second point, you assume that all photographers have a very precise, and only one, agenda. That they come up exactly with what they wanted, all the time. That they only want pretty pictures to submit, and never instead resort to a pretty/banal/mainstream picture because they didn't spot an alternative angle or potential to the image. You must be right in some cases, of course.
But I believe many photographers do have an interest in different approaches and concepts, and not necessarily one and only one agenda, and can benefit from criticism. Some might even surprise you by agreeing with your remarks.

If you take Joey Lawrence's work today, aside of a distinctive commercial style which dates back to DPC and is perhaps not that interesting, you can see several personal works which takes to some extent a very different approach. Perhaps it's not McCullin or Salgado grade ( not many in that league, after all), but it's evidence of quite different visions and angles living within the same photograher.

In my selfish perspective, I think a DPC with votes but no comment would be a waste of space, and I am sorry I am perhaps missing input and criticsm from skillfull photographers such as you and others.
Then, I understand that investing time in commenting for the benefit of a crowd of strangers which might or might not appreciate it is not necessarily rewarding.

Just my opinion, thanks again for sharing yours.

Message edited by author 2011-12-01 14:10:35.
12/01/2011 02:08:21 PM · #23
I personally have a less rational reason for not commenting on low votes. I don't like the negative reactions that people often have to such comments. It's not worth it for me. I admit it's a selfish reason.

If you put "give me a comment, postie" in your title, I'll comment on it. :)
12/01/2011 02:17:35 PM · #24
Originally posted by posthumous:

I personally have a less rational reason for not commenting on low votes. I don't like the negative reactions that people often have to such comments. It's not worth it for me. I admit it's a selfish reason.

If you put "give me a comment, postie" in your title, I'll comment on it. :)


This is actually a very good point.
I think ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Yo_Spiff suggested somewhere on the forum that there should be a 'criticism welcome' checkbox upon submission.
I have dropped here and there the suggestion that perhaps people should do as you just suggested, and use the title to indicate whether they want comments/criticism or not.
12/01/2011 02:20:07 PM · #25
Originally posted by mcaldo:

use the title to indicate whether they want comments/criticism or not.


yes, that will get you 15 comments telling you how bad your title is.

hahahaha
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