chantal stone photography: the blog

May 25, 2007

The ‘Comment’ Thing

Filed under: Personal,Process/Learning — chantal @ 8:24 am

Ok, so when I posted a picture to my photoblog last night I decided to disable comments altogether to that site. I immediately received several emails asking why I had done so, so I thought I’d offer an explanation here. There are several reasons and I’ll touch on a few, but this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

As I stated in my previous post, I don’t have the time like I used to visit many photoblogs anymore, let alone leave comments like I used to. But when I did have time to relax and browse a bunch of different sites, I always loved the ones that didn’t allow comments. It seemed so brave to me. Here’s a photographer who was like (at least my impression) ‘here’s my pic…it speaks for itself…no comment necessary’. I’ve always aspired to be that brave with my own work.

Comments are fun, and I admit that when I check my email I get all excited when I see someone has left a comment on one of my pictures. It’s like a little tiny present. And comments help to foster this incredible photoblogging community—which I love (one reason why I helped to organize NAP2007). But at the same time, there’s a little part of the comment process that almost feels like approval seeking. Kinda like “here’s my photo for today, I really hope you like it, please tell me you like it”. I certainly want people to like my pictures, but if you don’t, it’s not going to change how or what I photograph.

Photography for me is a deeply personal form of expression. Each picture I make, no matter the subject, is an extension of me, my personality. Since I’m beginning to do more work for hire, the approval I really seek is from my clients. My photoblog is a place where I can express myself freely, no matter what people think. It’s a place where I can say here’s my picture, you don’t have to like it, just know that I love it. Unless I asked specifically, I have never looked to comments for technical advice. If the image wasn’t shot or processed the way I wanted it to be, I wouldn’t have posted it.

I feel like I’m at a new level, photographically. Maybe not with the pictures themselves, but I feel differently about my work. More confident, perhaps (probably not, I still stare at the computer screen night after night thinking ‘this sucks, that sucks, suck suck suck’).. Perhaps just more at ease with who I am as a person and as a photographer. Comfortable enough to say here’s my photo, like it or not. It’s kind of gangsta, it’s a bit brave even, but it’s also part of a maturing process for me.

I’m also trying to streamline my site. I’m currently working on a new portfolio and I’d like to improve the photoblog as well. My plan is to keep it only about the photos, as much as possible. Very few words, maybe just an explanation of where the photo was taken or something. I’ll leave the ramblings, rants, and observations for this blog. Comments are always welcome here. A word blog seems to be a more appropriate place for comment and discussion anyway. And there’s always Flickr—another appropriate place for commenting.

In an email someone had asked if I disabled comments due to spam or negative comments. Amazingly, in the year + that I have had my photoblog, I have only received ONE spam comment. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s a testament to the awesomness that is Expressions. And I’ve received probably less than 5 negative comments…which never bothered me at all, it just seemed sort of unnecessary.

So there you have it. This explains about 75% of why I disabled comments. The rest is just personal. I’ve appreciated all of the feedback I received over the past year, and I hope people continue to visit. And always, if anyone wants to tell me I’m great, or I suck or if a picture is crummy or not, feel free to email me at any time!



  1. I say bravo, let your photos speak for themselves. Nowadays it seems that the goal of a photograph is for 2 second gratification, leave a comment and move on. Sort of promiscuous don’t you think? Quick someone disagree with me!

    Comment by Sebastian — May 25, 2007 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  2. Here I am Sebastian. In the world of Blogging, disabling comments on a blog IMHO, is being afraid of taking it in the balls. (yeah I know I’m blunt)

    Chantal is free to remove comments from her blog its her blog after all. But damn it, whats the point of the web if not to congregate on everything, take media to the next level, immersiveness (sp?) and interactiveness When I get hate mail, I approve it and publish it. I let it ride or I’ll argue it. Either way. Hate mail, comments, negative or positive, bring insight. Sometimes the insight needed to turn the corner the artist is looking for. It’s good to get burned sometimes. I’m driven by anger, driven by those who tell me I can’t, I won’t be able to, etc. Go ahead enforce me with it. All input is usable. Just don’t feed the trolls

    And just for the artistic side. Being an artist, is having a hungry ego. The artist, as much as he or she denies it, wants approval, else he or she would not create using plastic medias. It is our very nature to create for ourselves and the audience as well. We wish to provoke a reaction of some sort. Again it is our nature, no denying it. It is the impulse the drives the artists, the primal cry that separates us from the rest of the herd, that makes us live life with so much more intensity, much more illumination, much heavier heart. The artist dies inside a feedback loop. The outside world is necessary, even for loners like myself.

    So I’m done ranting and blathering. Chantal wants to take off the comments, so be it, it’s her blog, her world, her wonderful pix, but I believe she’s depriving herself of input that may reveal itself important later on.

    Comment by dave1973 — May 25, 2007 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys! I really value your opinions.

    Here’s my rebuttal Dave 🙂 :

    I did not disable comments because I’m afraid of taking it in the balls. Most of my pictures end up on this blog or on Flickr, so if anyone has anything to say, or wants to offer criticism, constructive or otherwise, they can do so in either venue. Or they can simply send me some hate-email.

    And while I agree that any artistic pursuit is ego-driven, I am not looking for approval. I was in the past, I admit that, but as I previously stated, I feel I’ve grown past that. Art is subjective, it’s personal to the artist….not everyone is going to like me personally (although seriously, how can you not love me 😛 ?) and I don’t expect everyone to like my photography. If mass approval is what I was looking for I’d be listed on every photo-community based site, and I’m not. I never was a comment whore…that’s not why I do what I do. With or without the internet, I’d still be shooting the goofy stuff I shoot.

    And as far as gaining insight from a comment….. frankly, I have yet to receive a comment so deep. I gain more insight from actually talking/emailing/chatting with other photographers. Comments on photoblogs too often are a lot like mutual masturbation.

    A blog like this is where discussions/comments/questions should be. My photoblog is my personal gallery….if you don’t like what I post, wait a day or two, I may post something new to change your mind.

    Comment by Chantal — May 25, 2007 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  4. Dave, very thoughtful comment! You pretty much covered every counterpoint that I could ever think of. Each one is very valid. I like your point about having a hungry ego. Chantal and I have had the discussion before about whether art is selfish, we need to finish that btw.

    I like to leave a comment on peoples sites every once in a while when a photo moves me, but if someone likes your work (or hates it!) then they will find a way to contact you to express what they’ve felt. If, of course, they feel that it is important for them to do so. And Chantal wants the comments HERE. I defend that right and I think she’s more interested in higher level concepts than the “horizon not quite strait” or “great shot” comments.

    The photoblog world, to me, (lately) just seems to encourage the “instant impact” factor which wants the comment of “Oh wow! Awesome photo, when are you going to do the next one?!” Which encourages the next instant impact and so on. Yes of course there are plenty of exceptions and it IS just my opinion.

    I see a change coming soon. Not sure what really. People with photoblogs will stop posting as they dont care to invest the time or just get disinterested and the culture will mature even further. Who knows what kind of interaction we will have over the next few years! I do totally agree that there needs to be some type of feedback for an artist to flourish. But should that be allowed every day at every new work produced? Should it be allowed at a time when the artist feels that she / he has gone to a new level and now would like some feedback on the direction they are headed?

    Ok enough of my incoherent thoughts of the day!

    And BTW I take it in the balls every time I see taxes taken out of my paycheck!!! Thats at twice a month guaranteed 😉

    Comment by Sebastian — May 25, 2007 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  5. Sebastian, Nice to talk, I have you in my photoblog feed actually, I just failed to make the connection. Thanks by the way. Taxes suck, I’m Canadian I know. Despite all the stupid comments one can get on blogs or photoblogs, its the little ones that count. I used to review books and movies and get a lot of fanboy reactions because as you may have noticed, I’m off the cuff blunt. But once in while I’d get the cool comments or e-mails, like say, directly from the author of the book I critiqued. And well I’m no real book reviewer, just a blogger, but getting the author talking back and involved just made my day and was the encouragement I sometimes needed. Now if only I could get Sally Mann to say I have cool contrasts in my pictures I could die a happy photographer.

    Chantal, no seriously, no one can not love you 😉 Yer a sweety. But there’s nothing wrong with mutual masturbation. Getting off is still getting off. Sure it’s not getting head, but ya know it’ll do. But I digress. My other point could be that not every one knows that you have this blog here. Commenting could be a unique tool for gathering info also. I know I sometimes ask fellow photogs how they did this or that. What lens, etc. My text blog isn’t about photography, it’s about my inner geek. Anywho yer gonna do what yer gonna do and thats all cool to. I just voiced my lil opinion.

    Comment by DAVE — May 25, 2007 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  6. Chantal, I’m behind you 100%! I’m not into the comment game, which is why I ditched my photoblog and went with WordPress. The photos are now simply an adjunct part of the whole. I take a lot of pictures and I like to share them, so they accompany the post. Most times they have absolutely nothing to do with the post!

    I, too, have found that critique comments, no matter how well meaning, seem to fall short … or to fall on deaf ears. Some have a good point, others … not so good, but it isn’t likely to make me change the image. It is subjective and I had a reason for posting the image as you see it. It’s because I liked it that way.

    I think that it takes a lot of cajones to turn the comments off. You have no feedback of the number of visitors, etc. Probably, some people won’t visit again because they cannot comment. I’m not much into the quick hit, I gotta wow them each day stuff. If I have something to say and a picture to post, that’s what I’ll do. Some of my postings get 15 or 16 comments, some get 1. It doesn’t matter either way. Of course, I like the discussion, but sometimes the topic doesn’t strike a chord with others as it did with me. This doesn’t mean that I’m out blowing my mind trying to figure out what the heck will get me a lot of comments! 🙂

    More power to you, Chantal!!! I can’t wait to meet you!

    Comment by paul — May 26, 2007 @ 9:04 pm | Reply

  7. Thanks for all the comments 😉

    I imagine there will be a drop in visits to my photoblog. When I slowed down the number of photoblogs that I visited and commented on a few months ago, I noticed a drop in hits then, which tells me much of it was only the reciprocal comment thing, and not so much because people thought my work was so stellar. The interesting thing is, when the # of daily visits dropped, the # of pages visited increased dramatically. Which means that although fewer people are looking at my photos, they are staying longer and digging deeper into my archives. And that is more meaningful to me than the daily “great shot” comments we all get.

    The point is, my photoblog is my online gallery….and I really feel if someone has a question or a compelling comment to make about a picture, then they will email me….and then a meaningful discussion can be had. It’s all about evolution and growth, and I feel this is the right direction for me, my site, and my photography to go.

    And Paul…..can’t wait to meet you too!

    Comment by Chantal — May 27, 2007 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  8. After the 2007 Photobloggies I was pretty much scunnered with the whole commenting thing, its nolonger about the photo its all about popularity contests. Commenting on photoblogs for a lot of people is just a wank fest, they make 200 comments a day then tout themselves as being extremely popular photographers because they get all the kick back comments on there site. Consequently I removed my old site (MGD) and moved it to a new URL. When I do start blogging again it will be purely as a form of expression, for myself and nobody else. I’ll still visit photoblogs and leave commenst but on images that make a connection with me. I will not be too bothered about who comments or how many comments I get and I will not be visiting sites in a daily cycle to try and drive traffic to my site. Like you, I guess in this regard I have moved on, developed and become more confident in my work and I no longer need the approval of the masses.

    Comment by Mike Dougan — May 29, 2007 @ 12:23 am | Reply

  9. Bravo, Mike!

    And yeah, the whole popularity thing is pretty annoying. I hated junior high and care not to repeat here on the internet.

    And as far as the sites that receive the astronomical # of comments…..honestly I think that says more about the commenters than the actual photographer. The photographer is just doing what he/she does….and most of those photographers RARELY respond to any comments, visit other sites, or answer email. It’s the people who leave all the comments who perhaps feel like they’re sitting at the ‘cool kids table’ by leaving comment #88 saying “wow this is awesome”.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….and no one has ever disagreed with me: People are weird.


    Comment by Chantal — May 29, 2007 @ 7:53 am | Reply

  10. Chantal and gang,

    Some good and valid arguments about why you might not find the “comment thing” to be valuable for you. I think there are many different reasons why people photograph, why people blog, share photos, etc. As such, the reasons to provide access to commenting or not will vary widely.

    For the sake of a friendly argument (used loosely), I’ve both left the typical “wow, great shot!” comments on other sites, and I’m happy to receive them.

    As a musician, I know that music touches people in different ways, and even the same performance of the same song will evoke people to respond in different ways. If a classical violinist performs a challenging work extremely well, he or she may receive congratulatory remarks of different types.

    One person may be struck by the challenging nature, and may wish to comment on that aspect. Another violinist may walk up and remark how well a specific measure was played, and yet another may question why the performer choose to interpret a section differently than the listener does.

    A moment later, someone may walk up and simply note, “Wow… that really moved me! Nice job!”

    In the end, many of the best performers may be just as happy to receive that “wow.” That simple comment meant that their practice, thought and efforts preparing the work paid off.

    It’s in our nature to want to share those wow moments in both the sending and receiving end, and I think we’re (human beings) the better for it.

    Not only is ok to want to hear it, but we need to share it, also. If I see someone’s photo that hits me emotionally, I don’t always want to analyze it with deep thought; sometimes I just want to “thank” that person for sharing it. (I might go back to analyze it later, to see why it brought an emotion.)

    Again… just arguments for why I hope many keep using comments. I certainly appreciate your reasonings for wanting to move away from it. Commenting doesn’t serve your needs now, so your decision makes sense for you.

    And don’t be surprised if I send you an email about a photo of yours that strikes me. And it might “just” say:

    “Wow! Great shot!”

    And I’ll mean it. 😉


    Comment by Andy Smith — May 29, 2007 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  11. Lol….thanks Andy…..any email from you would be awesome!
    Thanks for your input 🙂

    Comment by Chantal — May 30, 2007 @ 9:30 am | Reply

  12. Andy, great points there!

    Comment by Sebastian — June 1, 2007 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  13. First discussion I’ve read on the pros and cons of comments. Personally, I like comments – it’s nice to show appreciation but also when I come across a photo I particlularly like or am interested in, it’s a great way of getting some info off the owner as to how they achieved a particular look etc..

    Comment by Paul — June 7, 2007 @ 3:23 am | Reply

  14. […] June 7th, 2007 in Photography, internet A guy named Paul left a comment on my blog post about ‘Comments’ today, so I followed his link and found this great website called Photography […]

    Pingback by One more thing to distract me… « New Words — June 7, 2007 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  15. i am gonna show this to my friend, dude

    Comment by Andrinann — March 20, 2008 @ 7:32 am | Reply

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