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Poor Quality Images: Objectionable, Inevitable Or Even Desirable?

conrad > conrad Blog > Poor Quality Images: Objectionable, Inevitable Or Even Desirable?
08/08/2008 - 8:51 PM



Unique views 225 (242)

When I joined ePHOTOzine on 28 July 2004, my goal was to learn. I enjoyed my photography, but I was very much aware of the fact that I was a pretty clueless snapper.

From what I saw on the site, I concluded that this was a place where I could pick up some ideas and some extra photographic knowledge. After about two weeks I had also decided that I could even show some of my pictures and find out how I could improve them. That was because looking at the forum and the gallery, I concluded that this was a friendly, non-threatening community, and therefore I wasn't afraid to show something that must have looked pretty appalling to many.

My first upload after two weeks of membership was "Jousting Knights of Powderham". When I took the picture, I thought it was bound to be a wonderful shot. When I uploaded it, I wasn't so sure of that anymore, but I really wanted to get some kind of reaction to it - hear how others felt about it. And I was very grateful when Roderick James (rod the voice) made a helpful comment. And not only did he comment, but he also gave me my very first click or vote. Since his comment wasn't exactly a rave review of my shot, but more like "Nice idea, but it could be better", I considered that vote to be a form of encouragement, not an endorsement.

With one or two exceptions the first twenty or so uploads were pretty terrible. They did get some clicks, but again I considered that to be friendly encouragement. And it worked, too. I felt that since I got such a friendly reaction to my shots, I could keep uploading, and could keep learning how to get better.

Now, you won't hear me claim that this made me a wonderful or even proficient photographer. But I have learned quite a bit since 2004. Not as much yet as I would like, but hey, there always has to be something left to learn, right?

Anyway, we're coming to my point.

There are those on here who object to photos of "lamentable" quality, and especially to them getting votes.

Thinking about my own beginnings as a member of EPZ, these words have made me wonder what would have happened if I had been treated differently in the beginning.

What if Roderick hadn't been so kind in his first comment? And hadn't voted?

And what if all of my first uploads had only been criticised, and hadn't gained any votes or friendly comments at all?

Let me be the first to say that those simple shots would have deserved a treatment like that, I'm honest enough to see that. I just don't know how I would have reacted.

I might have become reluctant to post any more images. It's a definite possibility that I would have turned into a lurker instead of an active participant - that I would have become a shy member, instead of someone who wasn't afraid to show the results of his bungled efforts and experiments and learn from them.

I'm grateful to every single member who has given me encouragement, suggestions, advice - and clicks. As far as status goes, clicks don't mean anything. But as far as encouragement goes, they mean a lot to many.

You can never get any kind of recognition or admiration from those who really count in the world of photography by showing your ePHOTOzine Readers' Choice Awards or the number of clicks. But they can boost your confidence and help you to persevere and learn.

So I'm back to the question in my title for today:

"Poor Quality Images: Objectionable, Inevitable Or Even Desirable?"

Assuming that those who produce poor quality images (as poor as mine) can still learn, I cannot and will not label those images as objectionable.

Since ePHOTOzine doesn't have any quality standards new members have to meet in order to join the site and upload images, yes, they are inevitable, in my humble opinion.

Now, the last option might be taking it a bit far for some. But think about it.

Don't we want people to come to this site with the same reason that I had? Don't we want them to join, upload their images, and find ways to improve them? Yes, of course we do! (Well, at least I hope we do. I mean, if we'd want an elite group of members who only uploaded high quality images, it would be a rather select and limited group, wouldn't it? And I wouldn't be a part of it, because I wouldn't meet the minimum requirements.)

Now, I don't have to explain what conclusion follows logically from that, do I...

PLEASE NOTE THAT NONE OF THE ABOVE MEANS THAT WE SHOULD ONLY PRAISE PEOPLE FOR THEIR IMAGES AND NOT GIVE HONEST FEEDBACK. I DO, HOWEVER, FEEL THAT POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE IDEAL REACTION TO ANY IMAGE!

Tags: Clicks, Cliques, Getting better, Images, Lamentable, Learning, Not elitist, Poor, Quality, Votes

Comments

LisaRose
LisaRose  7172 forum posts United States4 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2008 - 2:15 AM

Very well said. I have at times felt that there are some on here who complain about "click cliques" yet to me they seem like they themselves are in a clique, that of an elitist clique.

There are so many kind photographers on here, unfortunately, as you will find in any community like this, there are also some very arrogant people who only seem to want photographers who are as skilled as they are.

Fortunately, this group I believe is relatively small.

The encouraging feedback that I received when I first joined epz, is the reason I stayed with it. It's the people who can be encouraging, and also give honest feedback that make this a great community, and it's the reason I love epz.

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9 Aug 2008 - 7:03 AM

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KarenFB
KarenFB Junior Gallery Team 84255 forum postsKarenFB vcard England162 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2008 - 7:03 AM

Yes, I agree with LisaRose..........Very Well Said!! I agree whole heartedly.

MediumSizeUnavailable

I also agree. all photos are desirable.

What I do however consider "objectionable" are the "poor quality images" receiving on a daily basis 30 to 120 votes, accompanied by dozens of comments which makes you think there's a miracle in the making, not one comment holding the slightest hint of critique, or even the slightest hint of reservation. They make the voting system look pathetic, they make the RC gallery look pathetic, they make the best of gallery look pathetic. They make the site look pathetic.
I have nothing against 'cliques' of which members regularly visit each others photos. In the sense described above I am part of such a 'clicque' myself. I do have something against people voting for each others photos by default on a daily basis, as if a vote means hi !.
Are there consequences to this so called innocent enjoying of the site as it pleases them ?
A huge number of people - often people who are good and talented - leave the site shortly after joining mainly (there are other reasons) because of this. Many of them leave because on epz all to often it doesn't matter how good their photos are. As a result the site has even less quality to offer. And as a result the site looks even more pathetic.

Instead of playing the poor little innocent victims, they should perhaps consider the consequences of their daily site-behaviour.
Instead of playing ignorant and schrieking out 'oh, but we're just kind people using the site as we please' perhaps they could have a look at certain categories in the 'best of gallery' and share with us how satisfied they are with the dodgy results of their so called 'innocent' behaviour.
Perhaps they could even consider for a split second that people complaining about these things, people leaving the site for these reasons, may actually have a very good point. That their behaviour actually makes the site a worse place to be, and that most angry reactions are exactly that... reactions about their actions.
But will anyone even consider it? A bit of self-reflection, even for a split second ? Of course not.

Last Modified By MediumSizeUnavailable at 9 Aug 2008 - 8:27 AM
Foxfire
Foxfire  10322 forum posts United Kingdom
9 Aug 2008 - 9:00 AM

I think any critique is a good one, we can learn from it and should not feel it is a personal attack on one's person (unless it actually is.

My only grope with EPZ is not so much with the community, all in all they are great, but the fact that there is no protection for your published photos on EPZ. Anyone can lift the photo from EPZ and use it "FREE". EPZ should stop this! Other photo sites either add a copyright label or make so the image remains thumbprint size. that is why I will not put my best photos on here.

conrad
conrad  1010874 forum posts116 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2008 - 10:54 AM

Thanks, LisaRose and Karen - it's a conclusion I have come to as well, if we're going to mention cliques, we should also mention the elitists. Some of them keep going on about click cliques, but I've noticed that they limit themselves as much as possible to their own little circle as well. I've had it with a few of the 'good photographers' on here, because I've noticed that I must not be good enough for them to even react to me. Whatever I do, whether it's posting something on the forum, or saying something about their photos in the gallery, they just ignore me and only react to comments from the others in their circle. But instead of starting threads about the subject or otherwise making a fuss, I've decided to only enjoy their photos and do nothing else about it. I won't comment on their shots anymore and will try to spend my time and energy on those who do welcome my input.

Koen - That's a good description of the nature of your frustration. I do know what you mean, I just don't think I can go so far as to call the gallery, the RC gallery, the site or the voting system pathetic. The voting system, and therefore also the RC gallery, were never meant to give anyone any kind of status. A vote merely says that one person liked your shot. And liking something is so subjective. If I show my relatives my photos I find that they like even the ones that I would call mediocre at best. And the bigger a group of people, the more people you're going to have with a taste like that, it's a simple matter of statistics, and I think labeling the symptoms as making the site look pathetic, is going a bit far. If an RC had any kind of status at all in the photographic world, I'd say you were right. But it doesn't. Readers' votes just don't count. People can only use them to make themselves feel good, there is no other possible use.

Now, although I agree that some could really do with a bit of self-reflection, I don't think that's going to happen. Not with most, at least. The only thing I can think of that might send a message in the present system and present circumstances, is to ignore any negative reactions anyone might give to honest critique, and give it anyway. I can't remember who said it, but someone in a click clique thread said that people who post their pictures on this web site automatically open them up to critique, whether they want to or not. For a while I have been careful in giving critique because one person reacted in a childish manner to something I said, but I've decided I'm not going to let me be put off by something like that anymore - if a picture needs improving, I'll say that (but using my favourite "sandwich method", so people with normal reactions will not be insulted - only those with a chip on their shoulder may take offense).

CJ - Glad you feel that any critique is good. We're here to learn, and we should all accept and give as much critique as we can.

The other subject you mention, is something that can't be helped, I'm afraid. It has been discussed many times before on the forum, but Pete and the team keep pointing out that no photo protection is failsafe. Any system you can think of to protect a photo on the internet, can be circumvented. If someone can see it on his monitor, he can save it, it's a simple as that. People who don't want to run the risk of having their photos lifted from their portfolio, shouldn't put them on the internet. Sounds harsh, but that's reality, I'm afraid. Life is harsh, and the internet is worse in that respect, because it has a large degree of anonymity, so people misbehave, and it's hard to catch them. We can either live with it, or stop uploading photos.

Well, thanks for the comments, everyone! I know these are difficult subjects, and we may never completely agree on them, but why don't we all just make the best of what we have here, and ignore those who don't want to make that effort, so we don't get upset because of what they do.

Until someone comes up with the ideal solution, getting on with things and moving on is the thing to do, I think...

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