Photo Critique – A Short Guide to Giving and Taking it
Deep down, no matter what anyone says, we don’t like to be told that our pictures are no good. We love the pictures we take – the ‘art’ we make – no matter how lame it may actually be. I’ve got nothing against that. But sometimes, we need to ask for our photos to be critiqued, so that we can get better.
There are some people who upload their work for others to dissect it, and there are those who love doing just that. They’ve made a hobby out of photo critique. You’ll find them at places like the original DeleteMe! group on Flickr, photo.net critique forum, DPS critique forum, and a host of other places (let us know your favourite photo critique forum in the comments).
Groups like “Delete Me!” on Flickr revel in picking apart people’s photographs. They go to the extent of directly assaulting the photographer’s ego. Does this help? Is that kind of critique even needed? I like to think that sometimes it is. Sometimes, our egos need to be bruised. And that can be a good thing…
You Need Harsh, Realistic Critique When:
- You ask your friends what they think and they say: ‘Wow! Those photographs of your kids are FANTASTIC!’ or ‘I wish I had your camera’.
- Everyone on your Facebook page (“your name photography”) tells you that you’re brilliant, and ask you what you think of their pics.
- When you expect people to ooh! and aah! over your latest photography escapade and are disappointed when they’re not so thrilled after the first 50 photographs of your 250 picture slideshow.
7 Tips on How to Take Photo Critique:
- Be humble; listen: You can’t receive something when your hands are already full. Don’t be full of yourself, don’t try to defend your work. Open up, listen. Yes, it’s your art, and criticism can hurt, but remember that you’ve asked for a photo critique, zip your lips and listen. Also, nobody wants to make suggestions to someone who’s not going to listen anyway…
- Ask questions: Clarify what the critic really means. Asking a question also gives you time to process what they’ve said, clarify your own thoughts and ask for further information or suggestions. Asking questions could turn a one-way critique into an exciting dialogue with ideas flowing like water.
- Watch for patterns: When you’ve got some feedback on a few different photographs, watch for patterns… Ensure that you don’t repeat your mistakes. DO repeat your successes.
- Go back to basics: It pays to revisit the basics now and then… People may try to teach you something you think you already know fully. Stay open to what they say: you never know when you may find a new perspective on using an old technique or tool. It may be directly from what they say, or their input could spark a new creative thought. It pays to know your basics inside and out, and twice as well on a Sunday or wedding day.
- Thank the Critic: If someone has shared their thoughts and experience with you, and has taken the time to evaluate your work and respond, it’s only fair that the person is thanked.
- Respond in Kind: Once you’ve benefited, be sure to respond in kind… Take the time to critique someone else’s work and keep the spirit alive…
- Don’t take it personally: Sometimes critique can become a personal attack. Don’t take it personally, and don’t feed the fire. Trolls will always trudge this earth. Feeding them never helps.
Getting Critique When Not Requested
Sometimes people offer critique even when it’s best not offered. When that happens it pays to slow down your reaction, think about what the other person is really saying and figure whether you’ll be better off accepting it or leaving it. Often, you’ll find that if you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you’ll understand what they’re saying much better. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Do you ask for your work to be critiqued? Where do you ask for photo critique? and do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments below.