By Tammy Porter on | No Comments
One of the biggest times of improvement in my photography skills came after I learned to give myself Constructive Criticism (or CC). Now, when I talk about criticism, I don't mean negative feelings or thoughts about my photos or my performance, rather looking at my images as a viewer instead of a photographer.
In other words, change your perspective and look at your photos as a stranger, a friend, or a family member - USE AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW.
If your photos are only for you then this process is really not needed, but if you plan to show your work on social media or are being paid by a client, then it’s time to get tough on yourself, and your images!
As you are critiquing your own photos, take your immediate reaction and use it!
Are you thinking "I love this, oh my goodness this is precious, squee!" This is something you should be saying about a photo when you choose to flag it in Lightroom to edit further.
Or are you thinking "this photo is just "meh", I hope I can fix it later". If you are saying this, then don’t even flag it for editing!
I always recommend to start your editing session with the photo you love the most! Keep in mind this photo may not always be the one that you nailed straight out of the camera. So you need to have some internal dialog with yourself.
Here are some things I've personally thought about when evaluating my own photos:
Positives: I love this image because the expressions are true and the focus is clear.
Negatives: The photo is underexposed, crooked, and overly warm.
Positive: I finally nailed the composition of this photo, and I think with some editing I can bring out the best in this one.
Negative: I did not leave enough negative space around my subjects, so I don't have many options for cropping.
Solution: I will be sure to know what crop will fit this shot best, and offer that information to the client at the time of ordering.
Positive: I caught the perfect sun flare and the husband is actually smiling in the photo.
Negative: The children were standing too far away from the rest of the family and are out of focus.
Solution: There is no solution for an image that is out of focus, period. Out of focus is out of focus… so move on.
Critiquing your photos is not meant to hurt your feelings, or make you feel unhappy about your work. Rather, it is all about recognizing the positives and negatives, and then finding a solution for the negatives. This is what can help you grow exponentially as a photographer.
And if a there is no solution for the negative, just move on.
After editing a session, always try to put your mindset back to positive.. Don’t walk away thinking about the photos you didn’t nail. Instead of thinking 75% of the images look horrible, say to yourself "I nailed a quarter of these shots and next time I am going to check my focus more closely, be sure to stay on top of my camera settings, and slow down to plan out the composition of my image.
The more you edit and learn, the easier this process will become. You will instantly know if a photo is worth “saving” and what your editing limitations are.
And start thinking in terms of QUALITY, not QUANTITY!
No one NEEDS or really WANTS to purchase 200 photos. You should aim to nail about 50 shots to edit and show your client. If you were the client, which would you rather have - 15 outstanding shots that you want to wallpaper your house with or 150 shots that are just ok?
Start relying on yourself for CC. Just like all of the other aspects of your photography business, this is something you can and should be in charge of for yourself. Once you have this process down, you will be able to save time, and boost your own confidence knowing you can honesty and quickly evaluate your own work!
Do you have any questions or comments about Learning to Critique Your Own Photos? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Tammy is a child photographer based in the desert of Arizona. A mother of two, a wife, and a secret lover of interior design. She spends her days juggling a hair salon, a budding children's jewelry line, and her camera. Photography is the driving force behind her relentless need to create beautiful things. You can follow her on Facebook.