IMO, as reviewers we should try to ascertain and respect the vision of the maker and make suggestions to help the maker improve that vision and not impose our vision with crops or suggestions that completely alter the image.
This seems like a contradiction to me? How do you distinguish the two? You can only alter the image if you suggest taking out or putting something in! A crop focuses attention on a part of a scene that is considered the focal point or the point of interest. Cropping - imo - is a perfectly valid thing to do. After all we are constrained by the aspect ratio of our cameras and are sometimes forced to include something we don't want in order to get something we do want? Artistically Russ thinks his original is "best" but others "disagree". All perfectly good points of view. As long as the suggestions are reasonable then what is the problem?
I will try to be brief because this is probably not the place to discuss these matters. IMO, because of the nature and easy convenience of digital images, too many people are quick to drastically alter other people's images. I have been guilty of this myself. If these images were slides, it would be what you see is what you get. So a critique would involve minor cropping, alternate camera positions, time of day etc. But for the most part it would be simple minor suggestions to improve what was on the slide and not drastically alter the image. Otherwise, it is no longer the maker's image, but simply what the reviewer thinks he can do with the image. We all tend to do this and I think we should try not to radically alter the maker's vision, and that is my point. And quite frankly, most suggested changes aren't necessarily better, just different views, crops or different formats. You can't walk into a gallery and say, this is no good, I would crop out this, increase contrast etc. You take it as it is and decide whether you like it or not. Of course doing so as an exercise is not an issue, and we do this consciously and unconsciously all the time.
I won't respond any more, because this thread is not for that purpose.