Constructive Critique For Free Amid The Chaos

Constructive Critique For Free Amid The Chaos


It was a great day at PhotoPlus Expo yesterday–I saw some great work and met lots of old friends. Thanks to my SanDisk colleagues Peter Liebmann, Brian Pridgeon and Leelianna Fazeli for making it all possible. 

Essential to our development as photographers is putting our work out into the world and seeking out opinions and critique we can use to improve and push ourselves forward.

Getting quality feedback on our work is very important but not always easy to find. Yet finding people who can articulate their critique of your images in a way that you can understand and use is essential to your development as a photographer. I will be at PhotoPlus Expo tomorrow at the SanDisk Booth to give you my opinions about your work between 2 and 4 pm.

It’s great to hear nice things about your photos from friends, relatives & fellow photographers but pats on the back are less useful than meaningful constructive criticism. The most effective way to both give critique and understand the constructive criticism coming your way,  is to have a grasp of critical thinking concepts to help you articulate what it is you say about photography and what others are telling you.

There are no absolutes in photography by understanding your biases is important when others comment on your work because, if for example, you are a documentary-based or street photographer who likes to capture real moments with a minimum of interference by you, the photographer when shooting and in post-processing then you can take the suggestion of moving a head from one frame to another— off the table.

Beginning in 2017, I will have a new course on Photo Critique and a new weekly show as well on Lynda.com. I will develop your visual vocabulary not only for you to get the most from what other people are saying about your work but also to ask the right questions to get information you can use to grow as a photographer and make your work better.

It’s about making judgements when looking at your own work and being able to articulate about and defend your choices. But remember, there is what I call “The Jazz Factor”. This isn’t math or science. Evaluating an image is a creative and personal call where intuition and gut instinct play big roles. It’s not a democracy either, your opinion counts the most. But in my experience the strongest images often rise to the top and the majority of viewers can see it.

That said, we are often too close to our own work and the emotional metadata that sticks with the image when we see it makes us feel and see things in that picture that just aren’t being communicated to those who weren’t there. That is why knowledge of the photo critique fundamentals can be crucial to your evolution as a visual artist.

I think I have a good grasp on what makes a strong photograph in any genre. But if you come to my critique tomorrow remember this is a subjective art and my biases and perceptions are based on my own life’s experiences and preferences in my passion for photography. I come from a more reality-based journalistic perspective. Those are the images I love to make.

In a critique I often break-down images into its component parts and describe not just what’s going on within the frame with regards to content and subject matter, but also from the technical perspective. This helps me to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of a particular photograph. Some of the topics under discussion in my upcoming Lynda.com show and tomorrows critique include:

VISUAL WEIGHT & THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION 

LIGHT

COLOR VS. BLACK & WHITE

CROPPING & THE ART OF SUBTRACTION

FRAMING & CAMERA POSITION

DESIGN

EDGES OF THE FRAME

TIME & MOMENT

SCALE

SHUTTER SPEED

THE FOREGROUND/BACKGROUND RELATIONSHIP

DEPTH OF FIELD

FOCUS 

ENERGY

SHADOW & HIGHLIGHT

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF STRONG PHOTOGRAPHS

AESTHETIC VS. CONTENT

ORIGINALITY

RELEVANCE

MAXIMIZING IMPACT & COMMUNICATION

But I never underestimate the power of instinct and that “Jazz Factor” when it comes to editing and picking the image along with maximizing it’s power through cropping and post-processing before sending it out into the world…

I do offer a paid service of image critique and consulting. For more info on that click here. 

 

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