How to Give and Receive Constructive Critiques in Your Photography

The only way to advance as a photographer is via constructive critiques. Critiques which tell you why your photograph works (or doesn’t work).

Why I’m anti-social media

The problem is that whenever you share your photos to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc is that most people (for the sake of not hurting your feelings) will NOT give you a ‘constructive critique’ on your photographs.

I know personally when I was starting off in my photography, I was hungry for real and honest feedback on my photos. I wanted to learn how I could improve as a photographer. I wanted to also know what other people really thought about my pictures.

Thus as a solution, I created a new startup called ARS; a revolutionary new online photography feedback platform. But let us not talk too much about ARS yet, I want to talk about why constructive critiques are important in photography.

Why constructive critiques?

First of all, let us analyze the word ‘critique’.

Generally whenever we think of the word ‘critique’, we think of negative criticism. However in my eyes, I believe that critique is a necessary component for us to advance our visual artistry and photography.

What makes a good critique?

Simply put, a constructive critique isn’t just:

“Your photo sucks!”

A constructive critique tells the photographer:

  1. What do you like or dislike about the picture?
  2. What is interesting or distracting in the picture?
  3. What do you find interesting or engaging about the composition, content, or the subject-matter?
  4. How can the photographer improve in the future?

Don’t do unto others as you don’t want others to do unto you

I don’t mind when others tell me that they don’t like my pictures. However, I want them to tell me why they don’t like the picture, and how I can improve.

I also don’t like when others just tell me that they ‘like’ my picture. I want constructive critiques on how I can improve my photos in the future.

Thus whenever I give photographers feedback on their photos, this is what I do:

  1. I tell them what I like about the picture, and also what I look at in the photograph.
  2. I offer constructive critiques on how they can improve their photos in the future.
  3. I try to engage the photographer and ask them what they like about the picture.

Photography isn’t a contest

A lot of photographers treat photography like a contest. Many photographers (Instagram) want to ‘one up’ one another, by having more likes, followers, etc on their pictures.

But photography isn’t a contest. Photography isn’t like basketball or football. We can all improve as photographers together.

This is why I built ARS, a new type of photography community and platform which doesn’t incentivize ‘likes’ and follower numbers. Instead, we incentivize constructive critiques and a community or mutual learning on ARS.

So imagine in your photography, when you are giving a constructive critique — ask yourself:

How can I give another feedback and constructive critique on their photos, so they can genuinely improve their photography?

Ask for constructive critique

The next time you meet your friends, family, or fellow photographers in person, you can ask:

Please help me ‘kill my photos’, and give me brutally honest feedback and critique on my images.

When you give others the permission to kill your photos (tell you which photos to ‘keep’ or ‘ditch’), then people will really give you honest feedback and critique.

Also when people tell you that they ‘like’ your pictures, you can respond by asking:

“Why do you like the picture?”

Or if they dislike the picture you can ask,

“Why do you dislike the picture?”

The secret is this: Treat your photos like they were shot by someone else. This will disconnect your ego from the pictures. Thus, when people give you honest feedback on your photos, you won’t feel hurt or personally offended!

Your art is always in beta

As a photographer, you are a visual artist. And recognize that your artwork is always in beta (you’re constantly evolving and learning as a photographer-artist).

If you’re curious to see what others really think about your pictures (or how you can improve), share your pictures to ARSBETA.COM, and also start giving constructive critiques to other photographers in the community.

Remember the saying:

As one teachers, two learn!

The more you give and provide constructive critiques, the more you benefit. The more you learn how to truly analyze a picture for the strong and weak points.



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