How to Deal With Constructive Critique on Your Photos
You may seem aprehensive about coming out of your shell and putting your work out there for others to see and critique. I know it can be highly intimidating, especially when you are in groups with very experienced photographers.
Let me tell you, I have been in your shoes. But once you become comfortable with others dissecting your images and giving you honest feedback you will be doing yourself a huge favor!
1. We All Start Somewhere
I think one key factor to keep in mind is that we all start somewhere. Nobody expects you to get your first camera out of the box and instantly start shooting and editing like a pro.
Just like learning anything new, photography takes a lot of research, practice, and tons of trial and error.
Most photographers who give you feedback on your photos are usually speaking from a lot of experience. They have been right where you are and many are eager to help and pass along their knowledge. So when you decide to take the plunge and put yourself out there, just remember, we ALL started as beginners, and that is absolutely okay!
2. Don't Take Critique Personally
It is important to separate your personal feelings from your work. I know, easier said than done. But this is crucial when it comes to getting the most out of constructive criticism on your images.
When I first shared my photos in a few forums for criticism, I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide. Seriously! There were so many things wrong with my images and believe me, the pros did not hesitate to point out each and every flaw.
I was privately contacted by a fellow photographer who could see how it made me feel, and they gave me one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received as a photographer. They encouraged me to not take critique personally, and that my photo work does not represent me as a human. My work is just that - work, and nothing more.
I decided right then and there to use the criticism as fuel to become the best photographer I could be.
Do not let constructive criticism hurt your feelings if you do not receive a ton of praise and compliments. That is not what constructive criticism is about. It is for you to learn and see things from other's perspectives.
3. Your Images WILL Be Highly Scrutinized
The general public, and most of us as beginning photographers typically just see the image as a whole. You may think that overall, the image is pretty good. But when others are critiquing your work, be prepared. They will look over every inch of your image. They are intentionally looking for anything "wrong" in order to help you grow as a photographer.
Is your subject sharp and in focus? How is the posing, is it flattering to your subject(s)? Is it overexposed or underexposed? Are there distracting objects in the background? These are just a few things they will be looking for.
The most important thing is to take each and every critique you get and learn from them. Often, hearing these critiques from others will be reminders to you the next time you are shooting. The critiques will stay in the back of your mind, and you will find that these seemingly small issues will start to disappear with each and every new photo you take.
4. Make Sure to Ask Questions
Occasionally you will run across fellow photographers who will simply point out your issues but will not give any advice on how to correct them. Do not be afraid to ask them to elaborate. If your subject isn't sharp, ask for advice on how to adjust your camera settings to improve that.
Be sure to communicate openly and honestly with them and learn from their experiences. Show that you are eager to learn and build from the criticism.
Not only will it improve your skills, but it will also earn respect from those taking the time to actually share their knowledge with you. Some of my favorite photographers have become great friends because of this. They helped me get to where I am today, and for that, I am grateful.
5. Get Constuctive Criticism from Pros
Do not rely on your best friend, boyfriend, or sister for constructive criticism. Ask the pros. Go to the people that have spent a lot of time, years in most cases, to help keep your work going in the right direction. Find those who have personal connections with you as a person or are professional photographers themselves. And remember, criticism is not personal.
Once you start listening to AND following the advice you are being given, you will find that your work will start to improve drastically.
With constructive criticism, I'm sure you will not always hear what you want, and sometimes, what you do hear may be irrelevant. We all have different styles of shooting and editing and not all photographers will agree with the way fellow photographers do things.
But when it comes to the basics of photography, make sure to take full advantage of any critique you receive! And always keep in mind, none of us start out perfect!
Do you have any questions or comments about Constructive Criticism? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!