Re: Contest refresh suggestion: let's take entries on the *main* site
Re: Proposal: Rules for *New* Photo Contest on Main Site

I propose we create a "critique" tag on the main site, instead of moving the contest to the main site and mixing it up with critiques.

  • I don't like the idea of moving the contest from meta because I'd see it as "clutter" with each entry getting its own question. What happens to the questions when the entries are selected as winners? Are they deleted? Do they linger on?

    What happens to the non-winners? Do they also linger on? This has the potential to become bloated and stagnant the same way the current contest has.

  • Critiques and Contests don't necessarily have the same goals. Critiques are definitely about improving. Contests are about winning, even if some people may be more interested in the "process".

  • There are those who might not want to participate in a "contest", but would participate in a critique, and vice versa.

  • Changing the contest may require more work for moderators without any definite benefit.

  • Critiques, without contest, would fulfill the objective of encouraging photographic practice among participants of the site.

  • Critique participants can be encouraged to submit a new photo to the contest, based on feedback received.

Suggestions for use of critique tag:

  1. Question tagged "critique".

  2. Title in following format: Critique (YYYY.MM): [Title/Question]

    Attempt to make [Title/Question] component as unique and descriptive as possible.

    Perhaps can include category of photo, like Macro or Portrait. Would need a list of acceptable categories.

  3. Description should include the following:

    • Title of Photo (optional)
    • Description – situation, background, setting.
    • Objective or Challenges – What photographer wanted to achieve. Photographic challenges.
    • Equipment – Specific camera, lens, and other equipment used.
    • Settings

      • Mode (manual/auto), focal length, aperture, shutter speed.
      • Color profile, highlight, shadow, contrast, white balance, etc.
    • Post Processing – software and procedures used.

    • Question or RequestSpecific question to direct responses.
    • Other relevant details.

    • Photo – Should be inlined at end of post. Submission implicitly licenses photo as CC-BY-SA.

  4. Critique of a single photo.

    The limit of photos that will be critiqued is one. Additional images may be shown to show the development of the photo, such as before and after post processing.

    Photos should be submitted for critique only once. It is acceptable to discuss multiple questions/objectives related to the photo. It is also fine for responses to identify problems or improvements not previously noticed.

    Photographers are requested to refrain from submitting overly similar photos for critique.

  5. Critique of a Related Series, as suggested by AJ Henderson.

    The limit of photos for a series is ___. Photos must be related to each other. They must share the same the description and objective. The petitioner of a critique of a series must request a focused critique with a specific question that applies to the entire series.

    Series of apparently unrelated photos should be closed as too broad.

Potential Problems

  • NSFW, boudoir – Will not be allowed initially. If critiques work out well, further discussion would be needed before expansion.

  • Votes – Vote as you wish, up or down. Over time, if critiques become generally accepted, downvotes for whatever reason should not be a significant problem.

  • Closing...

    • Opinion Based – Critiques inherently request the opinions of others. As long as there is a specific question or objective to guide responses, critiques would not generally be closed for being opinion based.

      Critique requests without a specific question or objective may be closed as opinion based, "What do you think of my photo?", or too broad, "What can I do to improve this photo?"

      Recommended reading: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective

    • Too Broad – The following should be closed as too broad.

      • Critiques for a series of unrelated images.
      • Requests without specific question or objective to guide the critique. May also be closed as opinion based.
    • Other – We'll have to see what's submitted to determine the boundaries of acceptable critiques.

  • Duplicates – ???

    • What to do when a critique is essentially the same as a normal question, or vice versa?

      We already get questions that are basically critique requests with attached questions that have already been asked. These questions could be tagged and retitled as critiques. (Should they?)

    • How should very similar photos be handled? For instance, flying birds and flower photos tend to look very similar.

  • What differentiates a critique from a normal question?

    This proposal outlines the question title/description of a critique, but how should responses differ between critiques and normal questions? Are there any good guidelines for how to critique a photo?


Here are some recent questions that might have made good critique questions, though they do not follow all of the guidelines set forth above. (Those interested, feel free to edit to add to the list.)

Suggestions? Comments?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Obviously I'm not in direct agreement here as I do want to see the contest go to main...but putting that aside for a moment, this bullet point 'Photos, up to 3 (or 5?)' - I think is wrong. I don't think anyone wants questions like "please critique me as a photographer based on my portfolio" - they have little value to others. Critique this one photo where I am attempting to accomplish x is more helpful to others and also provides more value to the shooter. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 22:16
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Only things I would add is limit it to one photo unless it's a related series. The definition of related series would be based on the second thing, which is require that they be asking for a focused critique. By that, I mean there should be a specific thing they want feedback on, such as what works and doesn't towards accomplishing a particular goal (as an example). This lends itself towards both better discovery and more good subjective answers vs bad subjective answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 4:44
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Either NSFW should use the spoiler narkdown or we should just not do it There are other venues. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The photo should be inlined. We should keep the CC-BY-SA note from the contest. This isn't a general "show off my work" site, and this is a fair trade for people (also CC-BY-SA!) expertise. And it unambiguously allows modified versions in responses. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The title should be distinct and descriptive — not just the date. I know that's hard, but it'll us find specific photos later (and be more interesting on hot network questions, etc.) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would also say that for the opinion based close reason you should link good subjective/bad subjective. I'm on my phone at the moment and can't provide the actual link, but a Google search of good subjective bad subjective should find the se blog post on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 12:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure I agree with the way it's currently phrased without adding something to the extent of "unless they are not asking for a clear goal in the critique. I think the critiques do need to be directed atleast somewhat so that answers can be good subjective. "What do you think of my photo?" is opinion based and not really able to be answered under good subjective. "What do you think of how this image captures the relationship between the subjects?" is answerable and gives direction so that answers, while opinion based, can provide support as to why they feel the image does or doesn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, thinking about it, that's an interesting thing about critique questions, too broad and primarily opinion based are extremely similar in this case. I suppose it doesn't really matter too much which one is used, but it's interesting that they are so closely related for this purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 14:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson Revised so that a specific question or objective to guide critique is more strongly recommended. "What do you think of my photo?" is recommended to be closed as opinion based. "How can I improve my photo?" is recommended to be closed as too broad. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 22:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm Some recent questions might have made some good critique questions. Have started a list at end of post. Feel free to add if you're interested. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hueco Question has been edited a bit... Any thoughts, comments, suggestions? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 22:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ edited a bit...that's a fact. 20x and counting... \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


RE: the contest - What to do with the contest is now appearing to me as a rabbit-hole, and I've not enough LSD to make the journey. At this point, my vote would be to nuke it and start fresh.

So, let's disregard that part and focus on critique on the main site...

In general, I agree that critique belongs in the good-subjective pile on main and will help create a community of practice. Specifically to some of your points:

Critiques and Contests don't necessarily have the same goals. Critiques are definitely about improving. Contests are about winning, even if some people may be more interested in the "process". - I'm honored to of made your list.

Title in following format: Critique (YYYY.MM): [Title/Question] - I'm unsure what purpose the date in the name would serve? I like the idea of a category that could help start a library of these - a system that includes the photographic category and the critique...maybe [photo style] - [critique topic]...something like: Environmental Portrait - Composition - Have I captured the emotion and anger of this protester? (example brought to you from PDX, OR, where every day is a good day for a protest, apparently)

That being said - I highly doubt new askers will pick up on any title requirements right away - inevitably this will fall to the more active user base to edit and clean up these q's as they come.

Critique of a Related Series - I think this will need to be policed very, very carefully so as not to become a "critique me on my portfolio of xyz style" or "I'm trying to pick the best image between 1, 2, and 3". My worry here is that the series will be used in order to submit multiple photos at a time that really should be looked at individually across multiple questions.

If it's a series critique, then it's the impact of the series that's laid bare for review. If that review starts to devolve into individual image critiques, then why not force 1 image per question anyway? I see a series as more of starting with 1 image and perfecting it, then another, then another...then combining them to see if there is a synergy there that tells a story even more impactful than any one image. But, if perfecting the individual images had not been done first, the series as a whole would suffer for it. I'm not really sure how to convey action on this point though, so...let's just roll with allowing series and see what happens.

On closing, dupes, linking - I don't think an image should be submit multiple times to focus on different aspects. It should be submit a single time and those multiple aspects asked in the question. Edits and bounties can be used to drive further action if needed.

I think, overall, dupes will be rare. But, there is an opportunity here to link related questions to begin creating a network of knowledge. For example, a critique of my club portraits is related to club lighting questions, possibly posing questions, etc. I see the bulk of the questions here already answering how to accomplish x task. The critique is a review of a single person's application of that task.

At the end of the day, we'd have the original explanation of club lighting technique then linked to examples and critiques of how that technique may have been applied. To me, that would be site gold.

All in all. I agree - let's create the tag and give it a run.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree that titles will have to be edited by established users. Coming up with good titles and questions isn't easy, so I think editing to improve Qs is fine. Reason for the date in title was to distinguish near duplicates that otherwise might be difficult to distinguish. For instance, just because someone previously had their nightclub photo critiqued, doesn't necessarily mean no one else can have theirs critiqued as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason I suggested we need to allow for a series is specifically for if the critique is on something about the series itself. I agree that if it is not, then it should be one question per. I agree that while people are learning, they'll start at one image, but we're going to have people who are really comfortable with making individual photos of a series, but are less familiar with connecting images. We should support these cases. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 1:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some reason, the duplicates issue is bothering me more than other close reasons. Like flower photography, they all look similar to me (and perhaps that's why I might need a critique). It's possible the critiques for one photo would exactly apply to someone else's photo. It's not nice/fair to close the new critique request, but at the same time, it doesnt make sense for everyone to just copy/paste their old answers. Someone would inevitably link to the old critique, but without new novel answers, the submission might feel like it's being brushed aside. Etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 1:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson It would be good if the first few critiques are done well to set a good precedent. Do you have an old, flawed series you could submit at some point to demonstrate how to ask and answer a good series critique? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota - that's the tricky part of it, but a well done critique should avoid this. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses even if they are trying to do the exact same thing. How that does or doesn't work out towards there goal is different. That's why it's important to focus on what the artist did, not what they should do, unless what they should do is a slight modification that is true to their approach. "Do it my way instead" is really NAA for a critique. The answers would need to actually be critiques, not complete alternatives. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson Something I'm not super clear about is how a critique response will be different from a typical answer. Perhaps a resource about how to do a good critique would help. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 7:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota all my formal background in critique is from college and I don't know a good online resource for teaching it, but the big thing is that a critique is about how the artist did things, not how you'd do them. It's about what works and doesn't work and why. It is not "how do I make this image better" even in a particular aspect. It's a review of how well the artists work accomplished a goal and how/why. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ That isn't too say questions like "how could I better convey x" can't be covered, but every one for the same x will have the same answers, so it really isn't critique, it's advice, so it wouldn't fall under the critique section. Answers giving advise on a critique as their main point are naa. I think we should allow drifting in to advise on response to a weakness a critiquer mentions though, as long as the core of the answer is a true critique. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson Your thoughts re: How do I give someone a critique of their photograph? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ From a quick read it's pretty good. It certainly gets at the idea of what a critique is very well. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 17:15

I'm favor of this. I'm in favor of basically anything that isn't more New CF memory card media contains some data instead of zeros.

But we also need to change something about the contest, because the contest is is no longer functional. It's not getting many entries and the few entries it gets do not get votes. We should either fix that or cancel it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The prob is the huge number of old entries and no way to remove them except for them to eventually "win". As is, it can run nearly a decade without any further entries. Down votes should be allowed, and there should be a way to remove old entries. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think sd card, hard drive, and general battery Qs should be closed as off topic and people redirected to stackoverflow, superuser, physics, chemistry, or elsewhere. I also think earplugs, shoes, and carrying strap Qs should be closed and redirected elsewhere. By advocating for keeping those types of Qs, you helped to make this site less about photography, but more about technology and other irrelevant topics. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 2:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The shoes question is a little ridiculous but I stand by it in general in the context of the photographers' community of practice. Technology questions also in that context are just fine with me too. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the best chewing gum to use in a pinch to seal a light leak in a camera? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:34
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That's a little silly, but, sure, I don't think it really detracts. I stand by photo.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5590/1943 \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 9:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota that's easy. If you're using orthochromatic film, then go with Big Red, otherwise use Eclipse. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hueco I do like Big Red, but was concerned it wouldn't be sufficient. Is there a blue-berry gum that could be mixed with Big Red to form a darker material that would block light better? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota Eclipse's ability to block out the sun is second to none. But, if you insist, go with a few layers of Bubble Tape \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 23:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hueco I'm not a big fan of Eclipse's flavor, but if it's what I have to do, I'm willing to suffer a bit for my art. Does it work well for color infrared film? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 23:46

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