The thing about the internet is there will always be someone willing to critique your work whether you want them to or not. While a little constructive criticism can go a long way towards improving your photography, a lot of the ‘critics' we come across on the internet are, well, let's just say less than constructive with their feedback. Finding a thriving online community to which you can feel confident about posting your work–regardless of your skill level–in hopes to better yourself can be quite demoralizing. To help combat this, we've put together a list of five of our favorite places to get genuine, useful feedback on your photography.
Forgive me for what may seem to be stating the obvious, but one of the most accessible places to start is on Flickr. The Flickr Critique group consists of over 10,000 members, all of whom are at varying skill levels. A simple search of Flickr groups using the word ‘critique' as your query yields over 3,000 different groups, so the chances of you finding one that suits your niche in the world of photography are pretty high.
1x is a bit of heavy hitter for photographers with some experience under their belt for the simple reason that they have real humans look at each and every submission shared with the website before they make it public on their main page and they have notoriously discerning guidelines. That being said, the website offers a public critique forum to which anyone can post their work to if all they are looking to get is feedback. Your work won't be shared on the main page, but the forum is a great way to collect extremely helpful feedback and/or attention from qualified photographers who have taken images deemed worthy enough to pass the rigorous standards of the 1x curators. What's really great about it is, while the website does try to maintain a certain level of prestige, the critique forum isn't filled with snooty folks usually associated with such things. The users genuinely want to help, have honest–if not educated–opinions, and know how to keep it professional. The kind folks over 1x have even gone so far as to write up a little guideline for those who need inspiration on how to leave meaningful critique. How refreshing!
Let me just say, I love Scott Kelby. Not only is he a talented photographer and Photoshop wizard, but he's also a great communicator, speaker, presenter, he's just an all around cool guy. He knows how to keep things light while maintaining that ever-so-precious balance between humor and seriousness. Needless to say, you could only imagine my excitement when I learned he dedicates an entire episode of his webcast, The Grid, each month to blind critiquing user submitted photos. The episodes run around an hour in length and he usually brings in some great guests like Joe McNally and Joel Grimes. Anyone can submit their images, but, unfortunately, not everyone's will be selected; however, don't let that discourage you from submitting if you think have a decent set of images that could potentially benefit from the feedback by these industry leaders.
I feel compelled to add Google+ to this list for a couple of reasons. The first being, I really love the social networking site. In fact, as a photographer who occasionally shares work with the public, it's hands down my favorite network to do so on, which leads me to the second reason it's included on this list. If you're already an active G+ user then you'll know how photographer friendly it is. It's compression is tenfold better than Facebook's which means you lose a lot less quality when you upload to G+. So when you share an image to one of the multiple photo critique communities, you stand a better chance of your photo looking true to form for others to fairly evaluate it. Get started with (the) Colby Brown's critique group, Behind The Lens. While you're over there, check out Photo Critique. It's small (okay, with around 100 members at the present, its very small), but the users are highly active and known to give considerate and helpful feedback. Plus, with the group being on the smaller side, it's a good place to get your feet wet and not risk the chance of your work getting lost in the flood of other photographers photos hoping to get some feedback as well.
Last, and not least, in spite of it sounding like we are tooting our own horn in saying that the worldwide community of photographers that make up the forums right here on Lightstalking are truly some of the greatest. (We're not just saying that out of obligation either, you guys totally rule.) Part of what makes Lightstalking so great is the fact that we pride ourselves on our uber-talented readership and how insightful, respectful, and helpful you are in the forums, which gives the Lightstalking community a kind of bond–a force, if you will–that is second to none. The unspoken general consensus in the forums is that everyone is still learning whether you've been photographing for 50 years or two weeks and that shows in the way you choose to interact with each other. The feedback you can get right here on Lightstalking is almost certainly going to be thoughtful and helpful. That's not something you can find just anywhere!
There are a lot great photosharing websites available online where you can give and receive feedback, this list isn't all-inclusive by any stretch of the word. So, if you know of a great resource, feel free to tell us about it in the comments sections. We'd be happy to hear about your favorite (or most dreaded) place to get useful feedback.