Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Very Little Elp

A major part of the course is the comments we make on other people’s pictures every week.

We were told at the outset not to criticise photographs on technical issues and not to get into a comment spat – commenting on comments.

It took a while for me to get my head around the technical issues. It is very difficult to comment on a photograph without mentioning technicalities. I think I got there in the end.

As for commenting on comments, apparently there was a physical punch up in class last year between two students who had disliked or disagreed with each others comments.

It’s easy to see how. I noticed early on how one or two people were leaving comments above what I would call the acceptable level or criticism. Two students in particular have been quite rude on other people’s photographs.

Now I’m not easily offended or over-sensitive, but some of the comments I have read have left me stunned. One guy accused people of being subconsciously prejudice because they criticised his migrant workers photograph. Other examples include:

The picture of three young Asian girls working in Britain, one comment read: ‘they look a little tarty. The one on the left is coyly massaging the tree trunk; the middle one looks like a juvenile delinquent; and the last one has a distinctly post-coital gaze.’

To be fair to this comment maker (above) it was the first week and she has not made similar comments since. Others however (below) have persistently gone for the jugular.

Of a picture of an old photo, ‘There is little I can say because it doesn't really meet the brief… You haven't even done the IPTC data properly. I think it is personally interesting for you, but as for the other MA students I don't think there is much we can learn from this photograph. By sticking more closely to the brief we can all help each other consolidate our knowledge through the appraisals we do each week. Otherwise you are just wasting our time as well as your own.’

Of his own picture of a somewhat bland skyline: ‘Some useful additional comments (thanks for these) that steered me to thoughts I hadn't considered at the time. Equally, a couple of rather dull and pointless comments, simply regurgitating what I've already said; their loss of opportunity to practise their analytical skills.’

That’s gratitude for you.

We have to leave several comments each week on eight different assignments. When it was pointed out to Ian Beesley and Terry Speake that some students had over-stepped the line it was obvious that the pair of them hadn’t read any comments. Ian said that the comments, which are to form an assessed journal I our first term, would be looked at after the eight weeks. If a student had over-stepped the line, he would be spoken to.

That’s a bit late as far as I’m concerned. We should be getting guidance after week one and week two to make sure that we’re on the right track. Telling us we’ve got it wrong after it’s all done is a bit negligent on their behalf.

I can only pray that I’m around when this year’s punch-up takes place.

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