the crowdpleaser

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by caimi, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    This is related to the criticism thread which has recently been revived by a discussion of aesthetic vs. technical criticism and by mention of the forum which has a criticism section that doesn't allow positive comments.

    There is a certain type of image that is guaranteed to draw attention, primarily positive attention, but attracts little criticism Call it the crowdpleaser.


    -something cute your baby did
    -soft water flowing over rocks
    -something cute your dog did
    -homeless person sleeping in an alley
    -something cute your cat did
    -a pretty girl

    You get the idea. They are certain to gain significant "thanks" or "likes" and I, for one, do not think that is inherently bad. I've been thinking about the "no positive comments" rule at and I've concluded, "Why?" There's nothing wrong with positive comments and encouragement. At the very least it lets the photographer know what is working for him. But it doesn't go far enough.

    Now, if we could only go beyond hitting the "thank" button and tell the photographer why it works. What is it about your water flowing over rocks that sets it apart from the thousands of other examples I've seen? Why is your cute baby trick unique among millions of others?

    And taking it a step further, tell the photographer why it doesn't work. Why is your model sitting on a leather sofa in the middle of a bean field? It doesn't make sense. Why is the left side of your cute cat's head out of focus? It doesn't add anything to the hairball shaped like the Eiffel Tower he just coughed up.

    Crowdpleasers, I think, often make the statement: "See, I can do it." A photographer sees a photo he particularly likes and wants to see if he can replicate it. He is proud that he can and there's nothing wrong with complimenting the work. But helpfulness comes also when you can say it doesn't fit the genre because. . . or it takes the genre a bit further out because. . .or, getting into aesthetics. . .it doesn't work for me because. . .

    It's hard. I know. Especially with the crowdpleaser which is presented, specifically, to please you.

    You want an example of how hard it is? Look at much of the criticism offered at the "shark tank" over on They've eliminated the positive but the criticism still rarely rises about the level of, "I would have cropped it differently." We can do better than that.
  2. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    That list is loaded with images that can have emotional impact. The first thing that draws someone to look at an image is, Impact. The last time I checked the simplest and safest definition of art is, something made that creates emotion. If an image has a huge impact, then it can get away with weakened elements of composition or poor craft in lighting, design and other technical details. The impact will draw you in, make you look, make you feel, and it is an extremely powerful element to an image and can guarantee a viewing of the image. Now then, in regards to the forum you referenced, I've never been. But from what I gleen, they're doing it wrong. Instead of a no positive rule they should have it as a concerted effort to evaluate images by trying to divorce themselves of the impact and only focus on the craft, and design of the image. I would hate to be that mod.
  3. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I agree with this. Positive comments are not inherently worth less than negative comments, but we can all agree that the "Great image!" post (of which I myself have contributed more than a few) adds very little if the image was posted with the goal of soliciting honest feedback/ critique. Sometimes, I feel that pictures are posted strictly to solicit "attaboys" and I don't have a problem with that.

    Although the leap to banning positive comments altogether in the context of an image critique forum seems extreme, I can understand why it might be worth a shot. Perhaps instead of banning positive comments, we could just ban inane comments.
  4. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I agree that trying to enforce any such policy would be an administrative nightmare. I would hope that if the ground rules were laid out clearly enough that the community would take up the enforcement role (which is the only way I could see it working on this forum).
  5. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    The likes of the shark tank insist users post comments to enable them to put images up for Critique. this encourages poorly thought out critiques because the benefit to the poster is in making more comments.
    Banning positive coments does NOTHING to make the coments more meaningful.
    A positive comment such as 'I like the way you've arranged the lighting on the left of the image' helps a photographer see why an image works.
    I have to say the few images I checked at the shark tank looked prettyy bad to me, and the comments didn't bash them as much as I thought they deserved!

    IMO Likes/Thanks do not necessarily mean the image is well done,
    It may be a favored subject ('I used to have one of those')
    or suggest a cool idea that the poster didn't get to work, but has promice
    or even just work as a don't waste your time trying this.

    Personally I prefer the Thank option as it makes this a little clearer :)
  6. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    I have critiqued a few of the images in the "shark tank" and, at least for me, it is hard to leave out a positive word or two if the image is hitting on all cylinders. And I agree with Just Jim that it might make it harder to make an aesthetic observation . If an image is particularly pleasing, how can it not help the photographer's progress by not letting him know it?