A short while back, I wrote a pair of pieces (Part 1, Part 2) about giving and responding to critiques of photography with a certain level of decorum. As many of you already know, criticism is best given when actually asked for. While having the confidence and self-awareness to seek feedback in and of itself is commendable, not all requests for feedback are equal. Despite what one might think, it’s not quite as simple as posting your photo online and asking for general feedback. As with giving and responding to critiques, there are certain ways you can present your request for feedback to improve your odds of receiving meaningful advice. Below, I’ll go over the information you can offer to increase those chances.
The dos and don’ts of photography criticism, part 2: How to give it
Preface: I’d like to start by saying that I feel the word ‘criticism’ is interpreted by some as inherently negative, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Throughout this write-up, and in part 1, I’ve used the words ‘critique’, ‘criticism’, and ‘feedback’, interchangeably, because I consider them to be more or less the same in this particular context.
In my previous post, I discussed some of the discoveries I’ve made related to receiving critiques, and some things I’ve learned to better handle them. In part 2, I’d like to look at the opposite side. After all, feedback is only helpful when conveyed in an effective way. On top of that, you’re more likely to get a positive response, if the feedback is presented in a way that doesn’t come across as combative or demeaning. In fact, it can be a way to build connections within the photography community. Below, I’ll go over the ways I prevent even my most honest critiques from feeling like an attack.
The dos and don’ts of photography criticism, part 1: How to take it.
Preface: I’d like to start by saying that I feel the word ‘criticism’ is interpreted by some as inherently negative, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Throughout this write-up, and in part 2, I’ve used the words ‘critique’, ‘criticism’, and ‘feedback’ interchangeably, because I consider them to be more or less the same in this particular context.
Photography, like every art form, is subjective. As such, anything we create is open to criticism, whether we like it or not. When criticism is given with the best of intentions, it can lead to growth. While we can’t control the criticism we receive, we can control how we respond to it. In this write up, I’ll be sharing the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped use the valid criticism I’ve received to improve as a photographer, and how I handle less than helpful negative feedback.
Don’t be a photography snob
No matter if you’re a hobbyist or you’re paid for your photography, I’m sure you’ve come across all sorts of unpleasant situations. In this video, Daniel Norton reflects on some of the situations that we’ve all been through. Snobbism and vanity are something we’ve all encountered. To be honest, we may even be vain or snobbish to some extent, and maybe we’ve done some of the things he mentions. This video is a bit of a rant, but it’s an important reminder of what not to do and how to be a better human being.
How to deal with online critics and trolls without losing your mind
Anyone who has ever posted their work online has faced criticism. Sadly, most of us more often deal with trolling and negativity than we do with constructive criticism. Dealing with online trolls and useless negative comments can be incredibly discouraging and stressful. It can even make you stop sharing your work. But before you get discouraged, watch this amazing video by Sean Tucker. It will help you distinguish between constructive and “armchair” criticism, and teach you how to successfully deal with trolls.
This photographer received a 30-page feedback from his client
Most of us like receiving feedback from our clients, fellow photographers, and followers. But have you ever imagined receiving a feedback report spreading across thirty pages? A photographer from Hong Kong got such critique from his newlywed clients, and it’s basically thirty pages of elaborating how bad the photos were.
This experiment could help you cope with your inner critic on a photo shoot
We all have the voice of the inner critic within us. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it shouts, but it always affects our work.
The crew from Canon Australia’s The Lab has created an experiment to see how photographers cope with the voice that constantly criticizes them. It shows what it’s like to work under this kind of pressure, and it can help you deal with the times when your own inner critic becomes too loud.
Stop asking for ‘constructive criticism’ – how to solicit good critique
Have you ever seen that “CC Welcome” caption on photos uploaded to Facebook, Flickr and 500px? Basically it stands for Creative Critique or Constructive Criticism, and it is probably the worse way possible to ask for feedback.
Photographer Joe Edelman notes that one of two will probably happen: you either get a bunch of ego flattering, one worded, “awesome” comments. Or real criticism happen and the photographer starts defending their choices. Neither is really helpful. To combat this Joe suggests several tips that will solicit good feedback right from the start:
Photograph Anything You Want
I wanted to write you this letter on how to liberate yourself in photography— by photographing what interests you rather than what you think other people will be interested. It means to make your photography more personal, and to make your photos a reflection of who you are as an individual. Remember; photos are always self-portraits of yourself, not of your subjects.
Often time, a lot of photographers ask me, “Eric— I don’t have any ideas for photo projects— how do I come up with good ideas?” I also get asked by photographers regarding advice for finding your own style in photography.
However at the end of the day, the simplest advice I would give is: “Photograph anything you want.”
Some Sweet Advice On Dealing With (Online) Criticism
Have you ever come back from the most incredible shoot of your life only to get a person go down on you? Have you ever had the most amazing idea for your business and when going live a fried totally dissed you?
Being a creative means that you put yourself out there almost daily and that means that criticism will come. The question is how to deal with it in a way that both let you take in the value from what you are told but not let this impact on your self esteem. And us creatives sometimes have very fragile egos.
Marie Forleo has some of the best advice I’ve heard about how to deal with criticism on or off line. While her advice may take some practice, it is extremely beneficial if you can follow.
[Do You Let Criticism Stop You? How To Insult-Proof Your Ego | Marie Forleo]
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