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Wasted talent

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Pete
Pete Site Moderator 1318442 forum postsPete vcard ePz Advertiser England96 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 10:42 AM

I've tried a different approach to this in the past but probably got the wording wrong so it went down a "what's wrong with ePHOTOzine" track rather than a "how we can improve the options for the future".

I've titled it wasted talent.

It's a view that we've seen some good photographers join. They've learned from the better photographers on the site in their field and then become great, even exceptional photographers. Magazine editors have picked up on their qualities, they've turned pro or they've just developed huge egos. What generally happens is they think that the end of the road has come in terms of ePHOTOzine. They have no desire to hang around and encourage others, but need a place to hang out and get the same sort of enjoyment they had in their developing years. So they may join different sites but in theory the same is going to happen again.

I don't see why ePHOTOzine cannot provide what is required, but as I never tire of posting/or providing help I don't understand the needs of those leaving or becoming dissatisfied fully. All I see is portfolios clearing from respected photographers and it's usually over some site or member issue that could probably be resolved if positive thinking and new paths were applied

I don't want to get into the usual slagging off of members or awards or systems, but more about how we can move forward and provide a vehicle for people to enjoy. I genuinely thought groups could do that, but only a few have embraced the options.

So for those who are hanging on in there, those who watch from a distance these days and those who have overcome their issues and found a solution. I'd like your views. What can we do?

In the new year we will be ploughing on finishing the V5 upgrades and then we have the oportunity to fine tune sections of the site to make it work even better. This is not a panic thread by the way - the site is still growing, at a rate of about 5-10% per month at the moment, but the community aspect has changed and it's not like it has been and that's the bit that makes it enjoyable to be here that I would like to improve for everyone.

Last Modified By Pete at 20 Dec 2010 - 10:54 AM
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strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 10:58 AM

Pete my view is you need to have a few more segments so I would split the gallery into 3 distinct areas with 3 sets of rules.

The open gallery, pretty much as it is now, post what you want vote how you feel, be friends etc.

the critique section pretty much as it is now but perhaps emphasise the constructive critique only aspect.

the art section, as per the main gallery but with strict rules on voting and also honest critique. For example no more than 10 votes to be given per day. you cannot vote for the same person more than once per week. 3 nice shot comments and you are barred. RC etc not the same as the open gallery ones. Constructive critique only, savaging and spats relegates you to the normal gallery. Anonymous uploads for the week. Only one upload per week.

That way anyone can see the entire gallery and the click wars etc get relegated.

My own view after viewing a few years of click wars and stupidly getting drawn into the occasional debate on it is that no matter how you phrase it, or people say they do not care, the moment people see awards they judge that as the standard. I showed a good photographer this site to try and get him to join. the RC area was a clear barrier because as he put it if popularity no photographic content is the judging point what will I get from this site. He thought the critique area great, it was the voting side put him off.

So my suggestion (to avoid award battles etc ) is to zone he site so expectations are appropriate. I think you are trying to get groups to live harmoniously where they want different things. Perhaps it is best to recognise the difference and live accordingly.

As to the title I have a vision of a top tog slumped in a drunken stupor with a bottle of whiskey clutched to their chest.

Sorry Wink

Last Modified By strawman at 20 Dec 2010 - 10:59 AM
Pete
Pete Site Moderator 1318442 forum postsPete vcard ePz Advertiser England96 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 11:10 AM

thanks John

Quote: I showed a good photographer this site to try and get him to join. the RC area was a clear barrier because as he put it if popularity no photographic content is the judging point what will I get from this site.

This is exactly who I'm interested in...the question is what do they want to "get" from the site. When you are at a certain level you are a competent photographer, producing high quality landscapes or wildlife day after day (Cheryl's post last week brought this back in my mind) what do you want to "get"? Can any site provide this currently? I'm thinking we have the flexibility and technology to provide that next step.

MrGoatsmilk
20 Dec 2010 - 11:16 AM

I have said t before, but I do think the upload size for shots for non E2 members is a barrier, there are plenty other sites that offer larger upload sizes for people to upload to, even to save space on the EPZ servers would it not be possible to have the shots in portfolios linked direct to such places as photobucket type sites or any other storage space for that matter, as I understand you may not want to link to a photo based site. along with a standard size being shown as is now (or a tad bigger) with the option to click for a larger size as held on the external space.

It would also be good to have people encouraged to give some detail on how a shot was taken, I was looking yesterday for some pointers before I went out to get some winter shots for the thread but to now avail. Maybe an option to have the shots uploaded to the gallery that are linked to a second gallery where shots are kept together and provide some info on how the shot was taken, what was used etc. Maybe a vote system for people to say if they found the info and shot helpful which could then be filtered by the user so they can find shots by type, shots by rating, new shots and unrated shots. A bit like the system that you see on product reviews on shopping sites.

Hope it made sense I'm typing as I'm thinking out loud.

Stu

Ian-Munro
Ian-Munro  6200 forum posts Wales15 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 11:19 AM

Hi Pete,

I for one have cleared out my gallery before now simply because I don't think the images were worth the "votes". The other thing is that I want my gallery to be the BEST work I have done so I suppose I will always have a smallish gallery constantly changing. I personally don't mind that and from my point of view I am happy to take the site for what it is. I have learned that an image with 100 votes/comments does not really mean its an awesome shot and vice/versa.

I agree that there are superb togs that come on here and wow us all then bugger off. I suppose its their way of prostituting themselves to put their name/site about.

On the flip side you have great photographers that show you versions and tips on how the image was produced. I would love to see more of that in maybe a "Processing Gallery" or "How to" gallery. Another way would be to encourage people to have a go a this type of thing and have maybe a "Most Improved" section where people get to nominate others for recognition. Or what about a member featured as the weeks "top critique" person. That may encourage more comments and not just votes.

For me though I would encourage the "more accomplished" photographers to share tips and suggestions in the hope of helping others who are "in a rut" with thier photography. Maybe get a featured tog from every genre to demonstrate a technique from start to finish of an image.

for example

How I achieved this image by :

Week 1

Landscape - artist John Parminter

Week 2

Portraits - artist uppercut

week 3

Wildlife - artist Phil MorganTongue

etc etc.


Just some random ramble suggestions guy's and not designed to upset or cause a massive man hunt for meWink

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:13 PM

I think the last two post also indicate part of the problem, there are a lot of people asking for things from the accomplished photographer, but what is given back?

MrGoatsmilk
20 Dec 2010 - 12:23 PM


Quote: I think the last two post also indicate part of the problem, there are a lot of people asking for things from the accomplished photographer, but what is given back?

Would it be possible for the people who give help and get feedback to support their efforts as being very helpful to be given say an EPZ Gold membership with added benefits such as points towards EPZ branded goods, large uploads, etc etc. An EPZ Gold icon next to their user name too, all n the way of recognition for their work.

Pete
Pete Site Moderator 1318442 forum postsPete vcard ePz Advertiser England96 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:24 PM


Quote: there are a lot of people asking for things from the accomplished photographer, but what is given back

This is one of my points...I've heard it so often. The site used to be great when I joined I got so much help and it's "helped my go pro", "publish a book", "create a training service", "build me a huge ego". It's at this point that we need an answer. How do we go to the next step?...whatever that is?
I see groups as being a potential way. If you've outgrown the gallery, bored with the conventional flow of forums, cant a group be created to allow you to stimulate whatever needs stimulating? What are the problems with doing that? How can we overcome them?

Pete
Pete Site Moderator 1318442 forum postsPete vcard ePz Advertiser England96 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:28 PM


Quote: Would it be possible for the people who give help and get feedback to support their efforts as being very helpful to be given say an EPZ Gold membership with added benefits such as points towards EPZ branded goods, large uploads, etc etc. An EPZ Gold icon next to their user name too, all n the way of recognition for their work.

It's an interesting point. I have been thinking about this for some time...in some societies (RPS where I had the idea) it's classed as honorary member. I always remember people like Ron Spillman had this designation. But every time I think about it I shudder to think how it would work... "why aren't I an honorary member?" "it's just Pete dishing out fancy titles to his friends" etc.

roxpix
roxpix  102236 forum posts Scotland11 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:32 PM


Quote: I've tried a different approach to this in the past but probably got the wording wrong so it went down a "what's wrong with ePHOTOzine" track rather than a "how we can improve the options for the future".

Same dog different fleas
Edit: in my analogy the site comes over more derogatory than I intended when I read it back, wasnt my intention to cast it in such a bad light Smile


Quote: I don't see why ePHOTOzine cannot provide what is required, but as I never tire of posting/or providing help I don't understand the needs of those leaving or becoming dissatisfied fully.

You can't please everyone, however admirable it is to try. How's the input from focus group coming along? Hasn't that provided several options for direction and is it right to look to explore more changes before these are rolled out


Quote: This is not a panic thread by the way - the site is still growing, at a rate of about 5-10% per month at the moment, but the community aspect has changed and it's not like it has been and that's the bit that makes it enjoyable to be here that I would like to improve for everyone.

Heathly growth rate but I think its growing as a social site not as a community, so you cant really expect community behaviour from an increasing volume of social users.
It follows that if creating community features for social members then they are going to bomb regardless of how innovative/good they are

Last Modified By roxpix at 20 Dec 2010 - 12:41 PM
ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014786 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:34 PM

I too thought the groups concept would be something that people would latch on to and enjoy - and those who have joined in have done so. But it's disappointing to see even the big groups having less than 100 members, rather than several hundred or even a thousand.

I guess I'm one of those who knew chuff all about cameras, learned lots on here, quit IT and went pro photographer, and am still around. What do I get from the site??? well the uploading photos thing is something I enjoy doing - I do not keep it to my "best" shots by a long stretch, often trying new things to test the water, many sink and just the odd one swims. If one in 30 gets an RC, I'm doing well. I know full well that because I've moved from being a gallery based member to a forum based one, that the votes go down and that's fine by me as after many years, I've become at peace with that concept Wink

It's the community thing that keeps me here, I've met loads of people on the site, including Pete, and like ot keep in touch via the forums, groups and uploading stuff. There's a lot of good people out there just looking in now and then and not joining in the way they used to, for whatever reason. It's a shame as things like the groups are so incredibly flexible that you can create your very own little "epz-world" and get people to join in, but that seems people have not grasped it yet.

What would I do/change/add?

Well having been "member of the week" a fortnight ago, most questions I had were about going pro and sellling photos - so maybe there's a hunger for some more material/infrastructure around that transition from amateur to pro. God knows what.... we have the Pro Advice group, but that fire needs stoking again I think.

Maybe we should use the gallery in the group (or start a new group) for shots taken in a professional capacity - i.e. ones you've done on a paid job for a customer. They are different beasts to the hobby shots, often of dull things like trainers or bottles. The critique would be different I guess too. Also you can discuss the breif, how you went about it, lighting and all that more advanced stuff.

I think the thing is Pete, you've built the site to a stage where all this is possible in groups, it's now down to the membership to buy into it - or be made aware of it. I wonder how many members don't look in the forums, and therefore don't see the Group threads, and never really know about groups?

Should we be telling our friends about the groups by PM - like a viral advert?

Why are people not buying into groups?

If we know the reasons for it, we can hopefully answer their concerns - time for a poll maybe?

MrGoatsmilk
20 Dec 2010 - 12:36 PM


Quote: But every time I think about it I shudder to think how it would work... "why aren't I an honorary member?" "it's just Pete dishing out fancy titles to his friends" etc.

Think it would have to be user based feedback, maybe with people who use the advice on how to take a shot from the uploaded image and info would then need to upload their version/attempt and supply feedback on how useful and easy the info was to follow and execute. That way it's not just click for a thumbs up from friends who have not even used the mini tutorial. Bit like Ebay feedback but with a feedback score option of 1 to 10.

devlin
devlin  4651 forum posts India39 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 12:56 PM


Quote: "why aren't I an honorary member?" "it's just Pete dishing out fancy titles to his friends" etc.

If you have a well designed, data driven automatic process to elevate said membership, this should cease to be an issue Smile

Cheers

ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014786 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 1:06 PM

Good Critique points should be factored in for a start as they already exist Smile

Maybe a bit of free advertising for Pros who give a lot to the site would be a way forward too - earn points by contributing, buy your self a bit of space with the points. That kinda thing - a quid-pro-quo arrangement. Not sure how you'd arrange that to be abuse free, but it's an idea. Like me, I bet many people here are doing bits of tuition or even running workshops - a bit of free publicity on the side of the gallery would be a nice helping hand.

Err...

But I go back to the "joining in" issue - or lack of people doing so.

What is it going to take to get people back into the habit of joining in rather than reading from afar?

There's the well known annual circle of discussions - winter robins - spring greens and lambs etc. etc. and to many that will get tedious after a few cycles. SO it needs to be something relevant to our advanced users and it needs to be known by them.

My best example of this was a "Off Camera Flash" thread - not many contributors, but all keen, all sharing, all commenting, all helping, all interested... EPZ at its best and how it should be.

Anyway - off to the flash centre with Tandberg in a mo, so best leave the credit card at home Wink

csurry
csurry  129230 forum posts92 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2010 - 1:27 PM

Where to start?

Well I guess firstly to address the issue of contributing more in the form of tutorials, etc. I did some for Photography Month when it started, but the question did become what is in it for me? It takes time to write a piece, no matter how short and really why submit it for free to ePZ when I could just post it on my own website, or better still sell it to a magazine?

Providing more critique - really I have to say this is not worth the effort, so many people really do seem oblivious to the faults in their images that trying to provide critique is just a waste of valuable time. I could easily link to some poor nature photographs where the poster believes that they are good because fifty odd people have told them so! There are simple faults in the images that could be easily addressed, but from the comments it is obvious that the poster is interested only in votes. I tend to look for people that appear to be looking for some input so as not to feel my time is wasted.

John did raise an important point and one I have had said to me many times by non-members about how it is even remotely possible to take galleries such as the RC seriously when it is dominated only by friends voting for friends which then extends to the best of gallery. No changes to the voting will alter this significantly, it has always been so and always will be as it is human nature.

So would splitting the gallery make it better? How would you split and how would you discourage the same behaviour as currently goes on, namely clicking because of who the poster is regardless of the image. If you said one side is for more serious work, who decides who can post where?

Can you separate the social side from the photography side? I have met some great people through ePZ, hopefully lifetime friendships, so the social side works even from a purely photographic perspective. Is the growth in membership reflected in active members? It seems a lot join around the time of competitions and then never upload another image. I suspect that this is especially true of the Christmas comp. So how about some benefits for people that have been around 6 months, a year, etc and contributed images and comments in that time?

I have considered creating a group. One for serious nature photographers to critique images, discuss locations, techniques, etc. However, what happens when someone posts an image in the belief that it is truly great and gets ripped apart? OK so you could restrict membership using invites only or approval (still not really sure what the difference is apart from push-pull - can anyone invite new members or only the creator?) but surely that would just create tantrums over elitism.

I am not sure that Ade is right in thinking many people want to go pro, I think a lot just want to take their photography to the next level but don't know how and don't even know how or where to ask. The general gallery is just such a mixed bag that looking for those hidden gems becomes quite tiresome, however I suspect that many of these items belong to people that do not look for votes and therefore would be more likely to post in a non-voting gallery. I for one would like to see a gallery where it can be posted for comments only but without being in the critique gallery.

Afraid I don't have any answers. Any system where members vote will lead to some form of favouritism. Take the tutorial idea. It's not hard to post an image on a friends tutorial just to be able to rate it, and yes people are shallow enough to do that.

All sounds so negative, but the site has some great features, some fantastic images. The problem is that often they are hard to find so often under-appreciated.

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