Learning to accept feedback on your photos

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Techniques | 1 comment

Learning to accept feedback on your photos

A number of weeks ago I wrote a blog post suggesting a number of methods for giving constructive feedback to photographers when asked. This week I am going to look at the reverse side of that discussion, how to gauge and evaluate feedback provided to your photographs. One the key factors to this is that anyone who provides you feedback for a photograph is providing their opinion. This understanding can be a bit of release in some circumstances, because you come to realise that not every opinion has equal weight and an opinion is not right or wrong, it is just an opinion. So when it comes to receiving feedback for your photos here are a couple of things to remember:

1) Not all feedback is created equally – whilst popping a photo onto facebook and getting a few likes provides some instant gratification it does not really help you to improve your photography. Your aim should be to seek feedback that provides substance, information that helps you to determine things you are doing well and things that you could do better.

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Canal Rocks in WA by Ken Dickson Canon7d with 10-20mm lens

 

2) Solicited and unsolicited feedback –  It is important to have a number of people from whom you seek feedback on your photos. A group of well trusted advisors can give your photography a great boost. When looking for trusted advisors, look for people who will provide balanced constructive feedback, that is a mixture of the good items along with items to improve. Getting unsolicited feedback can be a surprise, sometimes unpleasantly, the key thing to remember is that your photo has connected to that person in a way that elicits a response which is a good thing to strive for in any sense.

3) Know what to expect – In most cases you will already have an understanding as to some of things that might be pointed out in your photo. It is fine to have those items and they might prove a good conversation starter for example “The lighting looks a bit flat in this image, what could I do change that?” Sometimes you just know that a person is going to pick a certain point of your photo but you may have already accepted that point as being part of the photo for example, in the image below I know that people will point out that the models eyes are dark but that was part of look we where going for with the photo.

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Abby on the wall by Ken Dickson Canon 7D with 10-20mm lens Taken on Ozlight Flash Workshop

 

4) Ask follow up questions – Don’t be afraid to ask someone followup questions if they are giving you feedback, this may give you a chance to better understand a point they have trying to point out to you. It will also give you a chance to evaluate the feedback, sometimes it might be a throwaway line other times it might be well considered opinion with examples of how to improve. Having a discussion about you photo is a much better way to learn than just getting a lot of information thrown at you.

5) Don’t take it personally – Golden rule to remember. When someone provides you feedback about your photo, remember it is their opinion only and you still have the capacity to accept or reject that opinion. A good advisor will provide you information about why they have that opinion of your photo but it is still just their opinion. A good advisor will also provide information and critique on the photo as presented and not on you personally. Sometimes it hurts to hear negative things about your photos but as mentioned it is not normally personal and it should be given with the right intent which is to help you improve.

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Common Crow Butterfly by Ken Dickson Canon 7D with 105mm Macro lens.

 

Whilst it can be scary to have someone look over your work critically and provide you with feedback it can be a crucial step in progressing as an artist. In order to receive feedback that is of value, spend some time looking for right people to review your work. Quite often family and friends are the not the best starting point, they will aim to please most of the time. It is best to look for someone who’s work you admire, it might be from a local camera club or people you meet through a workshop or through photo sharing sites etc. If you admire someone’s work, you might find yourself valuing their opinion a little bit higher than others. You will find over time that the list of people who feel comfortable reviewing your photos changes, this is natural because your skills will grow and your interest areas in photography might change. If you find yourself receiving feedback from a person or persons that is not constructive or overall useful don’t be afraid to move on, it is better to get good constructive feedback from people who’s opinion your value that receiving negativity regularly or getting shallow thumbs up each time.

Ken Dickson is an Australian based photographer with nearly 30 years experience. A regular contributor to international competitions, Ken holds honour levels both within Australia and Internationally. He started in photography when travelling the world with the Navy using both film and slide film. Moving to digital in 2004, Ken has embraced the available technologies to continue his artistry. With a love for sharing his knowledge and experience Ken helped to launch Ozlight Photo Adventures (www.ozlightphoto.com) providing courses and practical workshops in all aspects of photography.

 

1 Comment

  1. My photography need a bit of work just do some on my phone and attempt to download and copy etc onto computer just average

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