Please, Do Not Ask Me to Comment on or Critique Your Work

The Art Critic

As a photographer with around 30 years of experience behind me, I make it my practice NOT to critique other “Human” forms of expression captured in Imagery, Music, Painting etc.

You are in your own way unique in the way in which you capture the moment that you have decided to encapsulate. It is that moment of “Commitment” that says “This is my view of reality, this is ‘Me.'” Now if the “This is me” is not content with the outcome of that “Commitment” to capture that picture at that moment in time, because the outcome did not satisfy what you really imagined what the outcome could have been, that is a technical issue. It could imply your understanding of the importance of Post Production is underestimated. It could be that you have not been honest with yourself and hesitated, not allowing yourself the intimacy required to capture “That” photo. It could be a certain handicap in basic rules of balance between light and dark or the “Yin Yang” principal. That being, the understanding of what Balance means to you. Post Prod is very much a part of the final image being realized.

My images are what they are, because the final outcome was desired. That does not mean that there is no room for experimentation. It means that in my planning process I always allow that the “Accident” element be a vital part of that process. I am always trying to push the envelope and surprise myself with something new. Perhaps it has more to do with my own perception of myself and getting bored too easily, or to a greater degree, a lack of confidence in myself. I am working on that issue every day and is a work in progress. Technique in my opinion should only be considered as a response to a specific desired outcome and not the means to the end.

Prior to building the house, you need to first do a briefing of what those requirements are. Do a conceptual plan and follow up with working drawings. That could be considered the story board. Construction of the house could be considered the technical tools, i.e. lighting framing, realization of the “theme-subject” and the post production to the final outcome the “House” built, photo concretized or the print.

If you feel that your goal has not been accomplished, find the tools that will assist in realizing that outcome. Sometimes as a result of a lack of vocabulary, we do not even realize what tools exist and worse than that, we lack the vocabulary to even know that certain questions exist. You must garner a vocabulary to enlighten yourself to the possibilities. In doing so, you will learn how to be discerning and your outcome will be even richer in my opinion.

It is a known fact that those people with a large vocabulary, lead a richer and more fulfilling life than those who have a limited one.

Experiment, make mistakes, catalogue those mistakes and make them your own style. Enjoy the experience and share that experience with others so they may benefit by your insight.

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • Tammie Reed

    You said that! I hate when people ask me to look at their blog no mam! LOL!

  • Peterreed Email

    When you press the shutter you do so for a reason, artistic emotional commercial or it just feels the right moment. There is right or wrong photos, only photos you like and photos other people like.

  • Peterreed Email

    When you press the shutter you do so for a reason, artistic emotional commercial or it just feels the right moment. There is right or wrong photos, only photos you like and photos other people like.

  • Excellent post.  The awareness of your process, your knowledge through experience, and humility, Benjamin, are what have helped you become such an exceptional artist.   

  • DarioToledo

    Really nice post, I agree with you. Of course one has to distinguish author’s personal taste and neglicence. The watcher probably can’t recognize it from the start, but can always guess and point out what seems like what. That’s why even if I make my critiques on photos, I try not to mention what looks like personal taste and deliberate artist’s choices to me (and of course I’m not never-failing, but a little chit-chat with the author might always help).

  • Dietmar kohl

    here is what my friend mike had to say about it cause i sent him the link benjamin.

    Thank you for thinking of me – and obviously valuing my opinion. I
    agree with your friend that being a critic is not a job for an artist.
    In fact, historically, most artists are terrible critics. For example, Richard Wagner (the opera guy) thought Felix Mendelssohn’s music was terrible and did whatever he could to destroy Mendelssohn’s career. Mark Twain,
    the writer, said of Wagner’s music, “It’s better than it sounds.” Both
    were great artists, but let their own likes or dislikes determine their
    criticism.

     

    Offering a critique is a skill, one that I have after being an art
    teacher for 30 years. It was my job to help students be better artists. I
    worked like an athletic coach – trying to take their talents and help
    them get perspective and experience to be themselves. So, when I offer a
    criticism, it is to help people get better and not just to blow off
    steam with my likes and dislikes. Being in an art community, like ours
    online, takes all kinds. I’m just trying to contribute by helping those
    making the art see it in a different perspective.

     

    Mike

  •  You know what, I thoroughly agree with this. I don’t critique others work and I don’t feel comfortable when asked to do so. For a start, I don’t know what they had in mind when they set out to create it, and thus, I don’t know how close they came. If I don’t like it then that has everything to do with my own personal aesthetic sensibilities and little or nothing to do with them achieving their vision… if they are asking for a critique then I assume that they themselves know they didn’t achieve what they hoped and are seeking affirmations to soften their self-inflicted blows… 

    Likewise, I don’t ask for critiques of my own work… ever. I know what I want to achieve, how good I want to be and what I want to portray through my work, and in knowing that I sure as hell know when I haven’t managed it! If that is the case it’s usually down to a lack of skill in certain areas, be it particular lighting set-ups, directing the model into the right expression, clothing wasn’t right, the weather and not having a plan B (or C or D), not fully developing the idea into a shot list or story board (known as winging it) or a hundred other things I might have done ‘wrong.’ If that is the case then post shoot analysis highlights the problems and I go out and find out how to improve, to learn the necessary skills to achieve the art… I find this form of honest self-critique far more beneficial and educational than a hundred comments of ‘yeah, you’ve blown the highlights on her arm…’

  • Dietmar kohl

    dear benjamin !

    perhaps i missed the point but i want to ask you how could someone improve their work if there is no critique or different opinion of somebody elses work.sometimes others see what you dont and vice versa !

    dietmar