Friday, February 13

Random dislikes pertaining to critiques of street photography, no. 33, and a call for restraint in the use of certain well-worn phrases

Random dislikes pertaining to critiques of street photography, no. 33:

The phrase, and variants of

"could do with a tighter edit"

Problem: safely lazy as a general comment; but when followed by the explicit "I would drop photos 4, 6, and 22" as unsolicited advice, a bit irritating.

I'm always reluctant to use this "tighter edit" phrase and I see remixed versions all the time.

OK, of course, very very often it is painfully true! But quite often it seems to mean "I didn't like a few of the photos". Oh dear...

Get used to it – that's completely natural – I look through Cartier-Bresson’s books and famous photographic monographs and secretly think "erm, I don't get this one", "I love Cartier-Bresson, but what was he thinking here? Rubbish", "Yeah, The Americans, greatest photo book of all time, but that one is crap", "The Last Resort, second photo in, no way". Come on, admit it, it's not just me...

Of course, in reality our particular tastes are just overlapping normal distribution curves. Naturally, I have great taste, and if you have great taste too, our curves will overlap quite a bit, but never completely superimpose. And it would be boring if they did – vive la diffĂ©rence!

Also, if you like the piece overall, and it’s only a few photos that you don't “get” – just give the photographer the benefit of the doubt regarding their intentions and taste... It may be there for a personal reason – part of the photographer's personal vision of the project.

If I was editing Zoe Strauss's excellent, "America", for example, I would remove a load of the text-based pictures. But I am not her – and I am a simpleton who would ruin her book.

So, before using

"could do with a tighter edit"


"I would drop nos 4, 5, and 22", Mr Frank

just think twice, kids, and give the photographer the benefit of the doubt for now...


Markus Hartel said...

I couldn't agree more - that's probably one of the reasons why the interwebs fail as a fair critique medium, everybody has to say something

BennehBoy said...

I think you have a good point but it really could do with a tighter edit.

Come on, it was begging for that one!

Paul Russell said...

Yes, I was waiting for that!