How to be Critiqued

Over the past two years, many photographers have written to me asking for a critique of their work. Flickr groups abound for crowd-sourced critiques. Magazines run regular features for reader critiques. Some pros even charge for their critiquing services.

It’s only natural to want to know what other think of your work. But are you getting what need from these critiques?

First, do you know your goal? If your goal is to go pro, by all means, get a pro to critique your work through the lens of their business and aesthetic senses. The harsher the lessons, the quicker you’ll improve.

I don’t believe that is most photographers’ goal, though. I think most photographers simply wish to become better photographers. Beyond knowing the basics, there’s not a lot a professional can offer you in a critique to help you become a more unique artist. In fact, a pro may not even recognize unique art - that’s not what they’ve been trained to see.

Pros need analytical answers about how to improve their results, artists need new ways to see. The best critiques I’ve seen are not about the image’s technical properties. The best critiques question why the photograph was created in the first place.