Why I like having my Photographs Critiqued

in Miscellaneous
By tpop1/Len (319) Send mail to this user on October 18, 2009 5:36:38 PM CDT

Many photographers who I know, avoid having their photographs critiqued by others. They do not enjoy receiving negative feedback on their work and simply avoid the hurt by not participating. I, however, like having my work critiqued. I feel that the feedback I receive helps make me a better photographer and results in much better photos. I try to take every opportunity to enter as many pieces into critiques as often as possible.

There are a number of reasons I put photos up for critiques. It's not just to have people praise my work, although that's always a nice byproduct.

Of course, I want positive critiques of my photos of which I am really proud. I am looking for am affirmation of my feelings and will probably be the most ardent in defense of these pieces. If I listen intently and resist the urge to push back, I often end up with a better photo. I always keep in mind, though, that it is my judgment that is most important regarding my "art."

I often put photos up for critiques which I feel have potential but are missing the mark in some respect. Very often, the feedback received in the critique of these pieces provides a basis for turning an "almost" photo into a keeper.

Often I'll ask for critique of photos, that I want to like but can't explain why or about which I am not really sure of my feelings. Critiques of these pieces often help crystallize my feelings about them and help me make a decision on whether to work the photos any further or just put them aside with no further effort.

There are several methods of I employ to have work critiqued; some formal some informal.One informal way is to have friends look at my work and tell me the things they like about it and what they dislike. The results of friends' reviews may not say much to the technical quality of the photos but certainly will address the emotional aspects of the work; do they see what I am trying to say, does the piece move them in a way that I might not have anticipated? They can offer much input on colors, elements in the shot, confusing issues, blur, focus and more. I always ask them what they think the major subject of the photo is. I have often been surprised by the answers.

A more formal approach comes from having joined a couple of good camera clubs which hold critique sessions and competitions. You can find camera clubs all over the place in nearly all communities and at a number of schools. Club meetings provide a great forum for learning new techniques, meeting new friends with a common interest, learning what unusual things that others are doing with their cameras, working on photo assignments (which require taking photos that I might not otherwise think to attempt) and for joining in the many critique sessions and competitions that most clubs sponsor. These critiques sessions are often done anonymously, thereby not requiring me to share the pain outwardly. Try Google or your local camera store for ideas about clubs in your area.

There are numerous web sites providing a way to have work critiqued online. Two sites that I enjoy using are www.Photosig.com and www.photocritique.net. I present these sites as two very different places with a very different vibes.

I consider Photocritique.net to be a more laid-back, gentle critique site. The members of photocritique.net are usually less judgmental of work and allow you to get a feel for having your work reviewed by others in a gradual way with less painful observations. That said, the results may have less impact on making the photography improve. It is a good way to get started.

Photosig.com seems to be a more rigorous review site, with members providing more critical reviews of submitted photos. It seems to me to have a more professional or higher amateur orientation. The resulting critiques may sting more, but ultimately provide move direction towards making one a better photographer.

Both sites are free to join ( Photosig.com is free as a basic member) and are free for submissions. Photosig.com's basic membership encourages critiques of others' work by increasing the number of photos you can submit for critiques, while Photocritique.net has no restriction on number of submissions. There are numerous other critique sites online, however since I have not used them am not in position to offer further information on these sites. Again, try Google.

If I really like a photo the best way to understand if others share that feeling is to enter it in competition. There is no better affirmation of a photo that I think is one of my best, than receiving a ribbon at a competition! Conversely there may be no greater pain than not wining with one of my best.

As mentioned earlier, most camera clubs either sponsor competitions or facilitate entering local competitions.

Additionally, local groups often sponsor completions in conjunction with events they are holding.

Photo publications continuously have competitions; many have monthly requests for submissions which can be featured on their pages.

Lastly the internet abounds with competitions, both those that are free to enter and those which you must pay an entry fee. I find myself gravitating to USA.Canon.com to check what contests Canon is currently sponsoring. Check local club newsletters, bulletins, Local newspapers, Photo magazines and the internet for contests that may be of interest to you.

How ever you accomplish receiving feedback on your work, I am convinced that the value of that feedback, if taken and incorporated where applicable, will make you a better photographer in the long run. Enjoy the good critiques, relish the painful ones.

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From georgiajoy/Jennifer (2,779) Send mail to this user on October 25, 2009 3:16:12 PM CDT

Well written and I totally agree. Photosig is the first site of this kind I have found and I feel like in a couple short weeks, I have learned so much from so many.

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From paulrollin/Paul (6,893) Send mail to this user on November 6, 2009 6:56:04 PM CST

Len: Wear a helmet. The ride can be rough here. But the trip is usually worth it. Any endeavor that you put your heart, and creative soul into, becomes part of who you are. Good, is the greatest enemy of Great. Most people don't know the difference. Therefore they settle for Good, never reaching for the next level. Unbiased critique of your work, separates you from it. When you become part of the work, you can rarely understand how it is perceived by others. It's like when you get fat, you don't see it in the mirror. Yes, I know. I have said the same thing, many times. "They just don't understand what I am trying to do here. They don't see it they way I see it, or the way I intended for them to see it". That is the point. When you start to get that concept clearly in your head, you can take off the helmet. There is a lot of "Crap" that gets sold as good photography, by a lot of photographers that don't know as much as the average member of photosig. And they are not even aware that it is "Crap". Because their friends tell them how "Great" their work is. People ask them to do weddings,,,,FOR FREEEEEE??? Go Figure. The two words "Great", and "Free" should never be spoken in the same sentence. Stick around. You will be the better for it, and so will your work. Regards,,,Paul

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From sst67/Alex (5,309) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on May 19, 2010 3:33:34 PM CDT

Well stated. I think I have learned more from the critiques criticizing my work on PhotoSig than any other source. As for hurt feelings, well, until the folks criticizing my work buy me new equipment or pay my bills I can live with being told if I did something wrong and go on to try and do better.

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From wahistler/Steve (341) Send mail to this user on September 24, 2010 11:04:37 AM CDT

ive been a member here just 1 day, but the feedback and processing suggestions ive received have been great.........please keep the critique coming.

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From varanasi/Christie (8) Send mail to this user on June 18, 2013 5:02:11 PM CDT

I agree with you completely. I myself, am very new to the world of photography. I was posting to another site but found myself frustrated with the the cookie cutter "oh, just lovely" comments on a simple snapshot. I was looking for feedback that could help me grow. I have put a small number of photos here and so far (fingers crossed) I have gotten critiques that have been constructive criticism with suggestions on how to improve (lighting, DoF, cropping, appeture, ect). I yearn for those types of critiques and each and every one has been greatly appreciated. I however am not a fan of ones that rip anothers work apart with nasty comments and nothing to assist with improvement. In my oppinion, if your going to leave a comment like that, maybe hitting the cancel button, rather than the submit might be the better choice. For those that take the time to look at my piece and comment on it to help a little fledgeling like myself.....I really take those to heart. I go back and attempt to correct in a way that they suggested to see their point of view, some have definately improved the piece, others I didnt care for as much. But I personally take the time to apply the feedback, its the least I can do back for someone that took the time for me. Even if they never knew how much I appreciated it.....

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From creativestream/spammer (0) Send mail to this user on June 23, 2014 4:38:55 AM CDT

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts!

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