This Is How Criticism Improves Your Photography

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Criticism Improves Your Photography
Image by Christiane

As photographers, we love to be praised. It's our artistic nature that craves recognition for our own imagination. Fortunately, in this world of digital imaging and social media, we can get it. Get it in abundance.

Post a picture to your Facebook timeline and within minutes one of your peers will be praising it to the rafters. Put an image up on 500px not only will you get likes and loves, but also a wave of endearingly positive comments about your “magnificent capture”.

Incidentally, does anyone else here hate the word “capture” in this context? This adulation strokes our egos and encourages us to go out and shoot more and more. The problem is, we go out and shoot more and more of the same.

Herein lies the problem with photo critique in the internet era. It does not show us the error of our ways. We think that because we get this constant praise, we have become a great photographer.

Before exploring these “issues” further why not pick up this great course on “Beautiful Photo Editing Made Easy”. It's from the guys over at Photography Concentrate and they really know their stuff, so grab some of that knowledge in this easy-to-follow course.

1. Not All Praise Of Your Photography Is Good Praise

The problem is that there is a fundamental flaw with a great deal of image-posting sites, 500px, Flickr to name but two. That flaw can be summed up in one sentence. To be liked I must like others.

To get noticed by peers, people constantly praise, like and love other peoples work. Its a kind of peer pressure, making you feel more inclined to praise the praiser, because he or she was so nice.

The chances are good that if you follow someone, they will follow you back. This slowly builds up a nice base of like minded people so that the next time you post, you will get some instant love.

Making a realistic critique on one of those sites is likely to be met not only with derision from the photographer themselves – after all the picture must be brilliant as it has so many likes and comments – but even worse, abuse from the people that did like or comment.

I have experienced this first hand when pointing out that an image must have been a composite despite strenuous denials that it wasn’t. The abuse I got was very disheartening despite the overwhelming evidence I presented.

So enough of this false praise, how do you get realistic, constructive critique for your images?

A sea of constant praise does not make you a great photographer
A sea of constant praise does not make you a great photographer

2. Getting Constructive Criticism Of Your Images

1. First and foremost, go offline and mix with fellow photographers in the real world. Camera clubs are a great place for this, not only do you meet like minded people in a social environment but you will also be able to enter competitions.

These competitions are often judged by local professionals who are more than willing to give a realistic overview of your image. Don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism yourself as well. Even if you are a newbie to photography, point out why you think there might be an issue with a photograph.

Do it politely and respectfully and the person you are critiquing will either agree with you, or point out that you are missing an important element in the image. In this case you will have learnt something new, just by commenting.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here

Thanks for the good article. I got into photography more seriously about a year ago and set up an Instagram account for the city I live in Africa. I was getting a lot of followers and a lot of likes but it felt a bit empty. With 2000+ followers after about 6 months I deleted all my pics and am giving it a rest. I am now using 1x.com which is seriously way above my league, but people are nice and give constructive criticism. You have to pay a subscription so it is not for everyone.

I am a member of a couple of Facebook groups that are specifically designed for constructive criticism. And the comments are given with that framework – helpful, honest and kind suggestions for improvement.

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