Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DigPhotog: Intro to Photography: Critiquing Photos (U1-P2)

Photography Criticism

When learning how to critique photographs, a good place to start is with Barrett's book, Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images.

  • “Criticism is informed discourse about art to increase understanding and appreciation of art.”
  • “Criticism is not a coldly intellectual endeavor.”

Barrett's Approach
  • Describe what you see.
  • Consider the subject matter.
  • Consider how form relates to subject matter.
    • Subject matter + form (focus, contrast, etc.)= content.
  • Let interpretation be communal.
    • Who determines the meaning?  Photographer? Critic?
  • Suggest photographer be silent.
  • Interpret the photograph by questions it raises.
  • Avoid hasty judgments.
  • Consider presentational environments.
    • Subject + form + context = content
  • Ask how the photograph would be judged.
  • Consider assumptions/theories.
  • What are the photographer’s theories about the way the world works?
  • Be honest and open.

Barrett's approach can be summarized as the DIET way of critiquing a photograph.
  1. Describe
  2. Interpret
  3. Evaluate
  4. Theorize

Below is a photo to critique using Barrett's approach.  

File:Gordon Parks - American Gothic.jpg
Gordon ParksAmerican Gothic. Portrait of government cleaning
woman Ella Watson. August 1942. (Public domain photo)

If you like, you can post below your critique of American Gothic using Barrett's approach.

American Gothic, that sounds familiar.  What was Parks' inspiration for the title of his photo?

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See more about me at my web site WilliamHartPhD.com.

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