Finding constructive criticism for your work
As a photographer, do you often look at your work and think it isn’t good enough to show? Do you look at your work and compare it to the images you see in National Geographic or on 500px and think “my work will never be that good”? Being your own worst critic to the point where you don’t feel like putting your work out there is counter to growing as an artist. Consider what is holding you back from getting some constructive criticism on your work. Are you worried about posting you work in a public forum? Lets talk about it…
As someone just learning photography, you may take and image and think this is looking pretty good and decide to post it in a public forum.
Many old grizzled photographers are not tolerant of newcomer work and soon you realize that posting what some may consider sub-par work can gain you some pretty harsh comments in the photo forums. Many people who regularly critique work online often do so behind the veil of anonymity, or with the goal of knocking you down to make themselves feel better. The reality is that constructive criticism and valid comments on your work can help you to progress in your craft. The key to this idea is finding a source for critiques that you trust. That source should also have a reasonable background in photography with the language and experience to critique work effectively.
Finding the right photographer
Photography is as varied and nuanced in genre as any artform. While there are consistent criteria observed throughout many of the genres, such as composition and technical execution (exposure, focus, quality of light etc.), what a person likes vary vastly. As an example. I feel confident in commenting on the technical execution of a photo, but I’m not a fan of street photography style images. This doesn’t mean I can’t look at a street image and appreciate it, but realize that I am going to review this image differently than someone who actively shoots that style of image. Now, if someone asked me to review a portrait, boudoir, landscape or product shot I could give some comprehensive and pointed feedback, because I prefer and shoot those kinds of images all the time. Look for feedback from photographers who participate in your genre of image. Where does one go for critiques then?
Looking for feedback
- Consider taking a class in photography at your local college. The issue to consider here, is that unless the instructor likes your genre of image, you will primarily get technical execution feedback on your images. This method will help you get your exposure and composition dialed in, but may not yield helpful critiques for your specific work.
- Look for a local group of photographers to work with. In almost every area there are meetup groups. My area has a great group I found through meetup.com. They offer monthly meetings, critiques, monthly assignments and more. If there isn’t a meetup group in your area, start one!
- Find a local photographer who shoots what you like and ask them if you can tag along and assist on a shoot in exchange for some pointers. You will find often, photographers who post regularly in photo forums are willing to let you tag along. I have worked with many local photographers in return for an extra pair of hands when doing a large shoot.
- Find a photographer online who’s work you like and talk to them. If you read photography forums regularly, perhaps you like the comments a photographer offers, ask them for some pointers. Depending on their workload, they may be willing to give you some one-on-one feedback vis direct message, you never know until you ask.
- YouTube can be a reasonable resource, send in images to Scott Kelby or other photographers that regularly does blind critiques. The problem here is the same as a college class, if the photographer is not into your genre of image, you might not get more than technical execution advice.
Finding a reputable source for feedback on your work can be tough but keep at it! Above all, build up the confidence to put your work out there for critique, or find a mentor photographer that is willing to help you out.
Good luck and get shooting!
I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to contact me on any of my websites or on social media.
My Photography site: http://www.tahquechi.com/
My Bodyscapes project: http://www.bodyscapes.photography/
My travel site: http://www.blindtravels.com/
Instagram and Twitter: @nedskee