5 Tips for Filtering Advice from Other Photographers


Things seems to all be falling into place. You have your gear all set, a fancy new logo, a great new set of business cards and your portfolio is starting to shape up nicely.

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But you still have a lot of questions – ranging from technical to business. So you decide to seek out the advice from a seasoned professional photographer and hope they will help you with all of your unanswered questions about starting just starting out.

But who is there to help you decipher whether the advice you are receiving from said pro is good or not-so-good?

Here are some great tips to help you filter out the good advice versus the bad when it comes to improving your photography skills and business.

#1 – Consider the source

You have done a lot of research when it comes to photography and even running a business, so take the time to learn a little more about who it is you are talking to for advice. There is nothing wrong with looking at people’s credentials when seeking advice about something so important to you. Look at their resume and portfolio. Ask them how long they have been working in the field of photography, why they got started, why the love it and so on. Seek those out you admire for specific reasons – their technical abilities, website, blog presence, and so on.

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#2 – Don’t be scared to ask questions

The worst thing someone might say to you is NO. It never hurts to ask the questions you have in mind. Connecting with others is a great way to become a better photographer and business person. Check to see which photographers you admire offer one-on-one mentoring sessions, workshops or e-learning courses.

#3 – Ask the right questions

You have the undivided attention of an experienced photographer – make sure you prepare some questions before you speak with them. Be specific, not vague. If you are having technical issues show them some of your most recent work and ask how to improve. If you have some business questions, have paperwork and numbers handy (if you are comfortable sharing). The more specific you can be with your questions, the better they can help you with your problems.

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#4 – Listen and take advice with a grain of salt

There is no one said all, do-all, be-all, fix for any problem or issue. Just like life, different things work for different people. Certain photographers have different ideas about how to do different things – especially when it comes to business. Listen to the advice and do what is best for YOU. Some photographers sell the rights to their digital images, others don’t. Some photographers do in person sales, others do business online. While some practices might be successful for them, they may not be for you. Consider all the factors before making big decisions and do what is best for you and your business.

#5 – Be prepared for constructive criticism

What is the saying, “If you put yourself out there, be prepared”? While it would be wonderful to think that everything is rainbows and apple pies, you can’t grow from sugar coating things, especially if you want to grow. If you are willing to put yourself out there and ask for advice – you will be able to grow and learn from it. Participate in photography challenges, join a local photography group – put yourself out there. Yes, it might be uncomfortable. You might not like what you hear, but it is much better knowing the honest truth from trusted sources.

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#6 – Stay true to who you are

Advice is a pretty powerful thing and can be help solve many unanswered questions – but don’t cast aside who you are as a photographer and artist. Remain true to your core principles, what you believe in creatively and always follow your gut.

Best of luck in all of your photography endeavours.

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Allison Gipson is a photographer, mother and military spouse. As a former photojournalist, she specializes in lifestyle and documentary photography. You can see her everyday photos on her website, or www.allisongipsonphotography.com or her facebook page.

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  • freeopinions

    #5 is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Anyone who has spent time on social networking sites and online photography forums and critiqued a photo (whether it was requested or not) knows that the response which inevitably comes from the others is usually to criticise you for pointing out the flaws. They are aghast that you chose to point out that the photo was vastly under/over-exposed, instead of saying “ooh, I lovethat dark, moody look!” They jump on you for noting the camera shake instead of saying “That soft focus look is soooointriguing!”

    I rarely give an opinion on a photo on a public forum anymore, because it invariably brings out cries of “You’ll discourage him/her and they will stop doing photography.”

    If they’re only doing it to do it wrong and get praised for it, they probably should quit.

  • Ian Braisby

    Couldn’t agree more, quite often you see photo’s in online groups where all the comments are a couple of words long, “good composition”, “strong image”, “well lit” etc when really someone should point out “that maybe it’s not in focus” or “if you had moved over slightly you may have a better picture”, I have only done this once and as you said the amount of people wanting to slag you off because your opinion is to them negative. If these people can’t take good honest & helpful critique they shouldn’t be posting there photo’s in the first place.

  • Allison Gipson

    I would much rather someone be honest with my about my work than giving “false praise.” Although, I do find it best to point out the positives first and then follow up with constructive criticism. As long as it is constructive…bring it on! I don’t think we ever stop improving or learning. Ever.

  • Allison Gipson

    Totally agree. I believe that there is always a constructive way to help others, while still remaining positive. Like I said…it all can’t be rainbows and apple pie. If someone truly wants to learn and grow – you have to be willing to take advice from others. I am in no way done learning and find it incredibly helpful when others can give me advice on how to improve.

  • freeopinions

    Of course one needs to know what they’re doing right, as well as what they’re doing wrong. When critiquing in the past, I always tried to start out by pointing out what I liked first, and then moving on to what could be improved. One poster once informed me that as a male, I was incapable of seeing the beauty in a photo that a woman could discern immediately, because we see the world from different perspectives.

  • Tim Lowe

    All good advice. There are a lot of other “photographers” too insecure in their own work and they are always telling you, “Your stuff doesn’t look like mine.” This is usually a good thing. 😉

  • Sharmon Lebby

    So much easier to trust the advice of someone with amazing pictures attached to their article. Great post! Thanks!

  • Michael

    I love to hear constructive criticism about my work, it helps me to learn and as a result it helps me to improve my photography skills. I am not perfect and I am not afraid to admit it, I am realistic that I have faults, so any constructive criticism is very welcome.

  • NJ_Pete

    I am an amateur photographer looking for constructive criticism and can’t seem to find it! I’ve posted on a couple photo sites, but the most input I get is someone clicking on a “like” button. Do you have some suggestions for places to post my photos that would garner some critique from experienced photographers?

  • Allison Gipson

    Now that is a first.
    I think people see things differently, it has nothing to do with being male or female.

  • Allison Gipson

    Are there any local groups in your area? If you could get face-to-face with some people and ask questions – I find that super helpful.
    What types of places are you posting your photos?

  • Allison Gipson

    I couldn’t agree any more. I think even the most experienced photographers are always looking to learn more and grow.

  • Allison Gipson

    Thank YOU. Much appreciated!

  • Allison Gipson

    Thank you.

    One of the biggest reasons why I love photography is that is gives me a platform to be creative and individual.

  • Elizabeth
  • Jessica Murlock

    Really? Because I’ve experienced the opposite effect. Any work that I’ve posted to photography groups – and usually when I don’t specify that I’m looking for feedback, leads to every person with a camera to criticize my work, picking out everything they believe I did wrong, and usually following it with the phrase, “You’re not doing it right, because you’re not doing it the way *I* do it” (read: If you’re not taking photos the way I would, you’re doing it wrong). While it’s nice to crap all over people attempting to put positive spins on criticism, it’s also not constructive at all to just put down someone else’s work because they’re not doing it “your way” which you assume is “the right way” and “the only way” to be approaching photography.

    I find people that critique in general need to find a balance between coddling and just dumping all over someone’s work because “it’s not the way I do things”. Forgive me if I find it hard to feel sorry for you, when you just seem to be whining about not being able to be mean and get away with it.

  • freeopinions

    You see? That pathetic, arrogant attitude is why I never try to help anyone anymore.

  • Jessica Murlock

    Good. Because you shouldn’t be “helping” anyone when your advice isn’t asked for.

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