We’ve worked hard to make DearSusan a safe place to share your images and ideas and it’s worked. But it may have become too much of a good thing, so we’re introducing an element of critique for readers who want a bit more than mere encouragement 🙂 Here’s how this is going to work.
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule states that “the key to achieving true expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing, albeit in the correct way, for at least 10 000 hours.” So, repeating the same mistake for 10,000 hours won’t help you achieve mastery in anything but stubbornness 😉
Getting good at anything requires as much feedback as effort. Let me give you a Covid-related example. I’ve been struggling to do some movements correctly in my sport for years. When our club shut down during the early waves of Covid, I resorted to filming myself to send videos to my teacher. Viewing myself on video was (1) a blow to the ego 😉 (2) an instantaneous identification of what was wrong with my movement. Without that, I could have continued for years, only making matters worse through bad habits.
On this blog, I have done my best to welcome as many contributors as possible and create an environment that nurtures rather than criticises aggressively like so many forums do. And contributions are now welcomed by regular readers as conversations taking place with photographs and text rather than spoken word.
That’s a good thing. But recently, some readers have started to tell me they’d love to be able to make suggestions to contributors in a way that would help them improve an aspect of their photography. And others have told me they missed the old challenges, which allowed them to submit a photograph without having to prepare a complete post.
So, next year will see a new type of post appear on DS. A critique post that will attempt to combine the positive aspects of both ideas.
From now on, you can send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) one to three photographs (1500px long side) as attachments to an email entitled “Critique post – YourName”. Please make sure the photographs are the correct size and the title of the email is correct. My main reason for ending the Challenge posts is that it took me too long to find the emails and resize the photographs.
Please also send a few words about the intention behind the photograph. That’s more useful and more difficult than it seems. Telling me what you were trying to achieve forces you to be clear in your own mind and it also gives the people critiquing the image something to chew on to make suggestions.
What I don’t want is someone simply giving their opinion on your photograph. That adds very little value and is highly subjective. Instead, if you write “I was trying to convey the loneliness and cold of that street”, it’s far easier to explain why you succeeded or didn’t (and whether the goal was realistic, …) . And, as written above, it also forces you to decide and articulate what the photograph is about.
All the photographs on this page were made on a recent trip to Disneyland Paris with my children. The trip was magical and nighttime in the park is the best as the lights turn the sets into a credible fantasyland. So those photographs attempt to convey the quality of the sets and the lighting in the park. You may feel that I have succeeded or not. But it’s a lot easier for you to tell me why than to explain why you feel those photographs are just good or bad. And it’s a lot more helpful to me than if someone tells me that there are too many people intruding in my photographs, as that’s not what I was focusing on and it is absolutely inevitable in this setting.
When you send in photographs, they will be reviewed by a group of seasoned veterans and we will publish them with the intention and the commentator’s suggestions and ideas. The critique posts won’t be published at regular dates but when 10 or more photographs have been received and analysed.
On top of this, more how-to posts will be published on topics such as post-processing, composition, exposure … But that’s information for annother day.
You don’t have to submit for critique. But I do feel one useful comment is worth hundreds of hours of solo practise, if the goal is to improve technique. If this gains momentum and we can get emails with correct titles and correct photo sizes, we can also reintroduce challenges for those who simply want to send in photographs without them being analysed. To your keyboards !
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