The Power of Critique

CooperTim_ PoringOver-06-1For most of us, photography is enjoyed on many different levels.  First and foremost is the act of taking the picture.  This might mean walking around finding interesting subjects or creating scenes from the ground up and photographing them.  It can also include the act of touching up your images on the computer.  Making them a little more dramatic or perhaps more true to life.  In either case it’s the creating that we find so satisfying.  I always find it fascinating how time flies by when I am behind the computer or out with my camera.  This level of concentration focuses my thoughts on the task at hand and pushes all other worries and concerns from my mind.

As a photographer I am sure you are familiar with this blissful feeling.  Getting caught up in the moment is a great diversion from everyday life!  But there is a second factor that plays into our enjoyment of photography- sharing our work with others.  This could be putting on a slide show for your family, sharing a photo album with friends or posting images to Facebook or one of the countless image sharing sites now available.

I don’t know any photographers who keep their images to themselves. Showing your images to others finishes off the creative process. It’s the critical step that allows us to share our vision; let’s us tell people what we think or feel about a particular subject or circumstance. This step also allows for feedback on your work.  It allows our friends and family to tell us how much they like our images or what a wonderful photographer we’ve become.

That’s the catch.  Friends and family.  Our loved ones are always going to tell us how good we are.  While this boost is necessary for our ego, it doesn’t help us grow as photographers. We need critical feedback as well as the positive feedback.  This is where the photographic critique comes in.

Having your images critiqued by a professional is paramount to your growth as a photographer.  Its tough working in a vacuum.  Not knowing whether you are executing your techniques properly or more importantly if your vision is getting across to your viewers.  A good critique can correct these problems and speed you on your way to better photography.

Local camera clubs, photography workshops or weekend events at RMSP are a great place to look for critiques.  Some places will simply grade your images on specific aspects such as technical, composition, execution, etc. Steer away from these critiques, as they are not as beneficial. Look for classes that will provide direct feedback on your images, not just appoint a number value to specific categories.  Also try to find classes that include a large group of people. While hearing a critique on your image is more personal, listening to critiques of others’ work will provide a well rounded education!