Food for Thought: Chances Are You Suck

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My favorite section:

“Your Facebook friends, your Twitter followers… hate you.  Instead of taking ten seconds to say. “This doesn’t work. You need to do better”. They readily push that “like” button, because it’s easy and they hope to get the same from you, but also because they’re cowards.

They’re afraid of the internet mob. Nobody wants to get on the wrong side of a mob, so it’s easier to play nice. Go along to get along seems to be the secret to a happy online life.”

-Kenneth Jarecke, Chances Are You Suck


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  1. I can’t identify at all. I’m always the first to point out the magnitude of a fauxtog’s suckiness, which then lays me out to all the criticism from their fans. Obviously, I’m just someone who tears other people down to make herself feel better.

    But you know what?


  2. Timothy

    I have been thrown out of critique groups on Flickr for giving honest opinions with technical details of the issues. As I recall, the email said something along the lines of: “People will not learn how to improve their pictures (yea, “pictures” How about “images” or “photographs”) if you point out what’s wrong with them, you need to tell them what they did right.”

    Well, fine, that just goes to show the level of ignorance out there! People are so afraid to hear the truth! Well, if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask for a critique!


  3. Mr. Jarecke needs to visit if he wants a place for harsh criticism

  4. A very small percentage of people (only me out of a 200 person psychology class) will say a remark that is hurtful and truthful if they know it will hurt. I have no problem telling a person exactly how I feel about a situation and will tell them exactly why I think their photo sucks ‘in my opinion’. A professor says something inaccurate – pointed out: a boss is slacking at his job – yo dawg I heard you like unemployment. Playing devils advocate is something most people run screaming from.. you shouldn’t. (btw this goes both ways.. if there is something positive to say I will say it as well even to a person that is despised)

    • Timothy

      Giving an honest opinion can be done professionally; I will usually start off with something like: “Your lighting really does not do this image justice, you should try. . .” or “This image is not in focus, when shooting something like this, you should focus on. . .”

      Of course, sometimes, there is the urge to say something like: “Seriously, you think this is a good image? It’s out of focus, underexposed and over edited; sharpening is not meant to fix an out of focus image!” But my goal is to educate not ridicule.

      • I would prefer an honest and helpful opinion than the other kind. I think that my photography is decent but I also know that I have a ways to go on some aspects of it. I think negative but helpful feedback is better than, “Oh my god, that picture rocks”. I would rather hear, “That’s not bad but maybe you should crop it a little more to focus on the subject or That’s not bad but it could be in focus better” or whatever. But I realize that this isn’t the format for that which is why I ask for critique from other places.

      • Timothy

        Yes, a critique needs to be honest, but polite.

  5. Cooldude

    That’s all well and good, but we have to all get along in this life. So it’s better for your career and social stance if you…..just click like. If you haven’t got anything nice to say….don’t say it

    • Why bother clicking like if you don’t like it. Just say and do nothing at all. If they ask for your opinion then honestly give it.

  6. Shallow knee-jerk praise is what encourages shitty HDR photographers to keep churning out their crap. There are 100’s of Flickr streams containing nothing but the most hideously garish HDR images, and each one is full of comments like “ZOMG this is the most beautiful image I have ever seen” etc. Next up is the retro-fied phone photography – any photo, no matter how boring the subject matter or composition, that has some 70’s hipsteresque filter and vignette applied to it, will instantly get “OMG so cool” comments.

    • Timothy

      Like Lucis Art, HDR was cool when it came out, now get over it and learn how to light an image and shoot it properly.

      Don’t get me wrong, HDR does have a place in photography, and used properly, nobody can even tell that it’s HDR. HDR is a technique, not a style in my book.

  7. It is true that unless you actually have the courage to point out areas for improvement in someone’s work they will never improve, but it is equally important to ensure that any comments made are constructive and ensure that the photographer is offered a view on how they might address the defect you perceive with their work. It is easy to point out someone’s flaws, but as a community we should surely be looking to help others improve?

    Equally, it is important we take care to ensure that we don’t immediately label a photograph as poor or shitty just because it’s not the photograph you would have taken (e.g. anyone who labels a photograph flawed because they have a bugbear against those who like to use slow shutter speeds to give water a misty/glassy effect in their images).

    So remember:
    – Criticism and critique are not the same thing; don’t just point out the problems, offer solutions; and
    – Don’t rush to label a photograph as poor just because it’s not the way you would have done it.

  8. Been kicked out of online groups too because I am honest. My favorite argument was that their 18-55 kit lens could produce images as good as my 70-200 f2.8 or my 24-105 after they take their photos into photoshop. I do think feedback is just not there…
    And I for one enjoy having my images wrapped appart.

    • but it all depends on circumstances. One of the nice things about doing basketball this year is that I am realizing the limitations of the lens that came with my camera. But I’m not doing it professionally, so I don’t care so much. If I were going to make the jump to professional photographer, I would definately upgrade my lenses.

    • Timothy

      The current kit lenses from Nikon and Canon are decent quality glass and will produce quality images if the maker knows how to use their equipment. I think the reason that a lot of kit lenses are trashed so bad is because they are in the hands of people who do know really know the craft of photography.

      A few years ago, I gave my son a Nikon D40 for Christmas. He shot some stuff in the studio with it and the images looked really good (he was 13 at the time). I have also seen a lot of other images that he has produced with the same kit lens (18-55, non-VR) and they are really good images.

      There is a lot of stuff floating around about kit lenses and statements that the glass in there is inferior quality and such and that just is not true. I can’t speak for Canon, but I do know that Nikon produces the glass for it’s kit lenses with the same technical expertise and quality as their pro level lenses.

      If you need to pull any image into Photoshop to make it acceptable, you did not do your job behind the camera. If an unskilled photographer created a horrid image with the kit lens, I suspect that, with the exception of low light issues, the would have created an equally poor image with a high end lens.

  9. “People will not learn how to improve their pictures (yea, “pictures” How about “images” or “photographs”)..
    I couldn’t agree more. I used to teach a summer photo class to high school kids and this was the first thing that had to be beaten out of their heads.
    As for the other comments I wholeheartedly agree with you all….especially about these Instagram filter images.
    The internet and digital in general are very exciting but 90% the images out there just
    totally blow.

  10. It’s true… People seem to get caught between wanting to be supportive and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings. First and foremost, the desire to improve your work has to come from within. I’ve seen crappy art get critiqued and the artist was no better for it, just insulted and angry.

    To be honest, I look back on my early work and realize that it was simply AWFUL. Sure I wasn’t trying to pitch myself as a professional or charge people money, and I took creative risks, but it still wasn’t good.

    I was really really lucky to have supportive people who encouraged me to keep going. Someone could have easily said “This is crap, never do it again.” and they would have been right in that instance, but it would have been pretty devastating while I was trying to learn the basics.

    But yeah, people who tout themselves as professionals who consistently produce crap should probably receive a friendly tap on the shoulder, complete with “Uh no, this actually is terrible what you’re doing here…”

  11. By the way guys, if you want an honest opinion, Model Mayhem is where it’s at. 😛 Sure, it has its assholes, but also has a lot of really great photographers who have been in the business for years, and don’t pull any punches when it comes to letting you know what you’ve done wrong and what you’ve done right.

  12. Tobias Beecher

    i wonder how many of you think this is about someone else when it really applies to you? To be brutally honest, this site exists soley for one purpose – to make mediocre photographers feel ok about their so-so and boring “work”.
    And I guarantee you that most of the people here are indeed average and mediocre. By pointing out and laughing at the truly “bad” you can all feel better about yourselves, but face it – the awful stuff is at least truly memorable which your work isn’t… The facebook likers and the flickr commenters are humoring the medicore, not the terrible… and if you take solace in being mediocre, then perhaps YOU are the one who really sucks here…

  13. Whoa Tobias chill a little. even if some one isn’t a photographer, they can still tell if the work is shitty. My biggest frustration.. especially since I am a hobbyist is having a “professional” photog ask me how I created a image. They do it for one of two reasons… One they have no idea how to do it. Or they want to try to bate me, so they can tell me how much i suck. The second do so to make themselves feel better. I try my dammest to not scream at them crack a F***ing photography book open.

    Timothy is so right. I have two lens for my camera right now. the kit one and a tela ( spelling). I can recreate most if not all of the ones the ” pros” I know do with all their special lens and photoshoppe tricks they use. Why because I study and practice with my camera till I learn how to get the effect I want. If you learn to use your camera then you wont have to use so much editing.

  14. Timothy

    That is really an issue here, we have a lot of people passing judgement on images yet we have no idea what their own work looks like. Of course, then we have someone come along and pass judgement others without even seeing an example of their work.

    I have turned those questions around and asked “tell me how you think it was created”. I started doing that after it was done to me. I saw this really cool image and asked the maker how it was lit. The response was: “Take some time to study the image and then tell me how you think I lit it. Once you do that, I will tell you how I lit it.” It gave me a new appreciation for dissecting images, much more educational then just getting the answer.


  15. Tim and Tobias, take a chill pill. My name is a link to my work and has always been so people can see where I’m coming from. ANYONE can critique anyone, you don’t have to be an artist to critique someone else’s work.

    Who do you think is paying artists? Fellow artists? No. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to critique the work they see, in fact I wish more people would do it instead of applauding crap.

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