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General DiscussionsAre You Biased?

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St3v3M
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Are You Biased?

Post by St3v3M » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:53 pm

I've often wondered what makes something art, and to the best of my ability it comes down to something that makes us think.
- This is probably best left for another topic for now -

The reason I bring this up is that there was a recent post where someone replied they didn't think pink worked for the image. I wondered if it was the color of the processing or their personal bias, and by that I mean their likes and dislikes, etc.

I get that some people don't like pink, and it is an odd color for an industrial scene, but it made me wonder if you think your personal preferences, biases, prejudices, and personality change the way you see the world? And maybe more importantly does it matter?

As an example, I was on a field trip at The Broad when I came across this and I hated it the minute I saw it, but then the curator stepped in and explained what the artist was trying to convey, the story. I wouldn't want it in my home, but the more I knew about it the more I came to understand it, but more importantly finally 'see it.' It's weird to me to think how much I hated it, and even now I'm repulsed by it, but that's the story it's trying to portray and the more I understand it the more I like it.

Are we quick to judge then based on our personal likes and dislikes, is that a life-saving feature we inherited from our ancestors and does it change the way we see the world?

This is a rough topic, not fully thought out so I thought I'd ask for your opinions and feedback. S-
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Post by LindaShorey » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:04 pm

Steve and I appeared to have a bit of a mind meld, because when I read his question to me (about pink), I started to write my own topic for discussion :)

I'm just going to post it mostly as I wrote it initially, so I'm probably asking more questions than answering any.

Serendipitously, his question relates to what I wanted to talk about in my newest critique forum topic "Poles, Wires, the Moon", which was how I could get around some folks' prejudice against telephone poles and wires. You know, those people who think of them as something to avoid in compositions at all costs, never mind filling the frame with them as subject.

So my answer to Steve is, Absolutely, our personal biases get in the way IMO. How do we get around those in order to better appreciate subtleties or other value? Through education and experience, I would think: first by being aware and open to growth, then by receiving and giving critiques as well as viewing or reading a lot of professional critiques.

But then I read articles or view videos by those pro's, including competition judges, and there is soooo much subjectivity! As much as I'm enjoying the lynda.com critique and composition videos, I can't help but notice how often they say, "Why? I don't know why!"

For our growth as photographers, is it important to be aware of our personal biases or are we just saying we have a strong point of view (in the work we share)?

I do think that being more aware of our biases will help when offering feedback, both for our own understanding as well as the recipient's.
"What's important in a photograph and what isn't." http://photographylife.com/whats-import ... -what-isnt

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Post by St3v3M » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:17 pm

LindaShorey wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:04 pm
Steve and I appeared to have a bit of a mind meld, because when I read his question to me (about pink), I started to write my own topic for discussion :)

I'm just going to post it as I wrote it, so I'm probably asking more questions than answering any.

Serendipitously, his question relates to what I wanted to talk about in my newest critique forum topic "Poles, Wires, the Moon", which was how I could get around some folks' prejudice against telephone poles and wires. You know, those people who think of them as something to avoid in compositions at all costs, never mind filling the frame with them as subject.

So my answer to Steve is, Absolutely, our personal biases get in the way IMO. How do we get around those in order to better appreciate subtleties or other value? Through education and experience, I would think: first by being aware and open to growth, then by receiving and giving critiques as well as viewing or reading a lot of professional critiques.

But then I read articles or view videos by those pro's, including competition judges, and there is soooo much subjectivity! As much as I'm enjoying the lynda.com critique and composition videos, I can't help but notice how often they say, "Why? I don't know why!"

For our growth as photographers, is it important to be aware of our personal biases or are we just saying we have a strong point of view (in the work we share)? Would being more aware of our biases help when offering feedback, both for our own understanding as well as the recipient's?
You know what they say about people thinking alike ...Crazy People or something like that... LAF

Your topic is amazing and one I'll have to think on, so I'll focus on your questions for now. I think we inherit a set of biases, some good some bad, and I agree the way to change them is through education and experience. My question then is how do we even know we have them? How do I learn to change it if it's all I know?

More questions than answers! S-
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Post by minniev » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:11 am

Of course I am biased, and so is everyone else. The question is how much, about what, and to what degree are we aware of our own biases. I like some genres of photography more than others, some styles, some colors, some subjects. There are some pet peeves i have trouble overlooking, some kinds of processing that set my teeth on edge. I try to sort out what the photographer was trying to do from what I might have tried to do but it isn't always easy and I wander across the line inadvertently at times. It would be very hard for me to say I give a totally objective critique that isn't influenced by my opinion but I suspect if we were honest, it would be hard for any of us to do that.

I'll be following this one and hope it goes far!
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Post by Duck » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:58 am

Biases lie in psychology, are developed early and influenced by our society, our early interactions and our knowledge as it mixes in with our biological chemistry. No one knows why one person loves pink while the next hates it with a passion but that's not how biases are measured. There are communal aggregations used to determine certain biases and they become more obvious when you look at how regions of our world view similar subjects in distinctly different ways.
Not too long ago (2014) journalist Esther Honig did an informal social experiment where she sent a plain photo of herself to photo retouchers in 27 different countries to see how they would all interpret her look. PetaPixel reported her findings in the article Photoshop Experiment: 1 Photograph, 27 Countries, 27 Definitions of ‘Beautiful’. She discusses her experiment in a TED Talk at right but I encourage you to follow the link and see the resulting images;

The following year PetaPixel reported on a similar experiment done by the UK medical website Superdrug Online Doctor in the article Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders. They site they were inspired by Honig's results and wanted to take it a step further.

While Honig was pursuing the angle of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Online Doctor was looking to answer the question, "how do perceptions of beauty vary across the globe?" Either way, both experiments clearly showcase how regional standards of beauty are perceived and bias the individual retouchers in the way they manipulated the images.

I'm going to segue here with a little story. In another post I mentioned how I had lost my father at an early age, similar to Charles. I have no real memories of my father. Between his death and the earthquake that brought my family to the US my mind was a jumbled mess. What I do have are the memories of the stories my family told me about my father. One of them was a casual side mention of how he was not a drinker. One or two beers and he was content to stop there. I heard that story when I was 12 and it stayed with me forever. Ask anyone who knows me and the story will be the same. I know my behavior was directly influenced by that story and has formed my behavior to this day.

We all have biases and they come from many sources. Most often they tend to be subtle and their origins untraceable. Others are so clearly imprinted on us we know exactly what and when. Sometimes we don't know why we like something but just take it for granted until...When I was a pre-teen my favorite color was green. As a kid, everything had to be green; green clothes, green accessories, green walls... For a long time everything was green, green, green until one day I was looking through my wardrobe and looking for something different. That's when I started questioning myself. I don't really like green, why have I been holding on to this green thing for so long? I don't know if my tastes changed or if the green was an influence from my mother at the time, or what. All I know is green is NOT my favorite color and plays a very small influence in my wardrobe to this day. :-)
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:03 am

Duck wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:58 am
...
Not too long ago (2014) journalist Esther Honig did an informal social experiment where she sent a plain photo of herself to photo retouchers in 27 different countries to see how they would all interpret her look. PetaPixel reported her findings in the article Photoshop Experiment: 1 Photograph, 27 Countries, 27 Definitions of ‘Beautiful’. She discusses her experiment in a TED Talk at right but I encourage you to follow the link and see the resulting images;
...
Your post reminded me of an experiment I saw a while back that has stuck with me. S-
- THE LAB: DECOY - A portrait session with a twist
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Post by Duck » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:14 am

St3v3M wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:03 am
Your post reminded me of an experiment I saw a while back that has stuck with me. S-
- THE LAB: DECOY - A portrait session with a twist
Another good one. I should have remembered that one too. Glad you brought it up as that shows how even a description of a person is influenced by our past experiences.
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:24 am

Duck wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:14 am
Another good one. I should have remembered that one too. Glad you brought it up as that shows how even a description of a person is influenced by our past experiences.
Full Disclosure - you're the tattoo artist I never expected! S-
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Post by Duck » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:03 am

St3v3M wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:24 am
Full Disclosure - you're the tattoo artist I never expected! S-
I get that alot. (Y)
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:10 am

Duck wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:03 am
I get that alot. (Y)
Proud to know you! S-
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