I propose the formation of a photography club for the purpose of improving the skills of its members at critiquing their own work, and ultimately to become more effective photographers, which means to be more able to convey a feeling by way of an image.
The club will function like this: all the members will donate allotments of time, which through a central organizer (myself), will be directed to spending time critiquing the work of other photographers. In exchange for working on the work of other photographers, other photographers will work on their work, comment on it, in a way which ideally will help them understand what in their work speaks to people, and what falls on deaf ears.
The advantage of doing this critique in a collective, as opposed to exchanging work with one other photographer, is that ideally through numbers photographers will get a good idea of what people in general, or at least photographers in general, feel about their work – e.g. if a lot of people respond strongly to one of your images, there is probably something to that.
I predict this will work something like this: if you commit an hour of your time, the central organizer will divide that up amongst the portfolios of various photographers. So, you’ll get an email saying “please spend 15 minutes on this portfolio, 15 minutes on this other one, and 30 minutes on these 3 folders from this photographer”, complete will all relevant links of course. (This means there is no need to all be on the same photo site – you can submit your work with links to facebook, flickr, photo.net, picasa,- anything so long as there is public access and a way to leave comments). Photographers can decide whether they want the comments left on the photosite, or whether they would rather have them privately emailed.
The guidelines for critique will be as follows: Be specific – feel free to make general comments about someone’s photography, but concentrate on trying to articulate what works and what doesn’t work for you about specific images. If you like a photo, try to say why – how does it make you feel? Why is it of particular interest? Is there something about you that makes you particularly disposed to care about this? Or, for photos that don’t work – what doesn’t work about it? Is it a technical problem? Or is it just dull – and what is dull about it? Explain!
Of course, everything above is subject to re-evaluation as things proceed. For now, please email email@example.com with your interest in participation, including how much time you would be willing to commit for the first round of critique, and links to the photo albums that you would like worked on. Also, if you have suggestions for a better name for the club, please let me know.