Fluffbunny Photo-Critics on the Web – RANT

Now, I have noticed that there are basically 3 types of critiquers. There are the Fluffers, the Technicals, and the Open. Some of you may disagree with me, but this is my perception. 

First, the Fluffers: this group is all about the “good photo” and “nice shot” comments and over-inflated ratings. They are the ones wanting you to come to their portfolio and give them the same comments and high ratings. Every one of us falls here every now and then, because of two reasons. First, we like to have our egos massaged every now and then, and second, sometimes the image needs no other comment.

Second, the Technicals. This group means well, and they generally give really well thought out comments about composition, DOF, focus, lighting, exposure and other technical issues with the shot. This is great, especially for a beginning photographer. However, they can get so clouded into seeing just the technical aspects of the shot, the miss the feeling or emotion of the shot. Granted, not every photo has feeling or emotion. Their ratings are generally on the lower side, when compared to the Fluffers. There are far less Technicals than Fluffers. 

Last, the Opens. This is the ideal critiquer. This is the person you want to look at your photo, to give comments, ratings. This person will be honest, good or bad, they will give you the technical side as well as tell you hot it feels to look at the image. Their ratings can be trusted a bit more than the others. You know these people. This is the group everyone, deep down, strives for.
Now that we have the definitions (my opinion, I know) I can tell you what I try to do, and what I like to see and how I critique.

When I post an image, I do so for a couple reasons. First, I want to see how to make it better next time. Second, I like to have my ego massaged. We all do. I will say this, however, I would rather have 10 technical comments than 100 fluff comments. The fluffs do not help me to understand exposure, DOF or focus, and how to use them to dramatically change an image. The photos I have posted here have had a mix, and I appreciate ALL comments, because I realize that the person really looked at the image and did take the extra time to comment. Don’t get me wrong.

When I make a comment, I admit I fall into the Technical group more often. However, I strive to at lease say how the photo makes me feel, if anything. It is tough to stay objective AND to let feeling and emotion come into the same comment.

There is an image on another website that shows three crosses at a church. The angle of the shot caused a flare to engulf the center cross. The image was also out of focus and a bit grainy (admitted by the photographer.) Almost every comment was about the flare and the out of focus. Almost everyone missed the spiritual/religious “feel” the photo has or the inferred meaning.

Bottom line here is Do Not Forget that Photography can be art, and some photos are meant to be “stock” and technically perfect, and others are searching for meaning and feeling and emotion beyond the technical. Fluff comments, while ego boosters, should be followed something else, even if it is pointing out WHY the photo is a “good shot” or “excellent.”The more I think about this, the more it makes me feel that most photography posting/critiquing sites edge towards being less a learning center and more of a “come see me” forum.

There are plenty of places where people can go to post their images to be seen and get one’s ego boosted. I am a member of many sites: Digital Photography Challenge, FotoLog, photoSIG and others.

I have been on Fotolog the longest. It is a GREAT place to display images. No rating system, but a comment system. It’s free (for now.) This is where I put images up to point firends to look at who just want to see the image. Like family looking at the pictures from vacation.

DPChallenge is where I get my competitive fix. Every week there is at least 2 challenges, and in each challenge, the photo must be taken during the week of the challenge. No prizes yet, but still fun. there is a rating system, or how else can you determine a winner every week but it pertains only to the challenge. Photos cannot be rated after the challenge is over. There is also a comments area, and a special critique club, where images are put in a queue to be commented on (not rated) so everyone gets at least one comment per photo. For me, this has always been fun.

photoSIG: Well, there are a lot of former psig people. It was once a good site, you could get decent help from good photogs. Now, as most of us here can attest, it is nothing more than a bunch of fluffers looking for pats on the back. Give an honest crit to the wrong person, and you will suddenly see a major change in your own ratings.

I am currently a member of Usefilm. I am hoping it does not go the way of psig. I am hoping I can continue to give and receive good, honest comments and ratings without worying about any rating decrease because I didn’t “jump on the ego bandwagon” and tell them how “good and wonderful” their image is. You know, there are going to be shots I just don’t like. Sorry folks.

I like going to Usefilm knowing that I will get a good mix of comments on most of my images. I appreciate EVERY comment I get, because it means that person thought enough of my photo to say “nice job” or “love it.” I always know I can stop by the chat room and ask someone there to look at the photo, I knowI will get a good comment (good as in useful) from the people there, even if the comments don’t make it to the photo itself.

UPDATE: Usefilm has also gone the way of the Fluffbunny.  Too bad, because it had a good beginning.

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