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Become a Better Photographer Through the Critique of Others

The following tip was submitted by one of our readers Mort Metersky. Mort emailed me some of his experiences of improving as a photographer last week and I asked him to share more. As a 74 year old photographer I thought his wisdom would be something many of us could learn from. You can see more of Mort’s work at his website.

Image by Swansea Photographer

Image by Swansea Photographer

What is the “BEST” way to learn how to become a better photographer? The answer, I believe, is there isn’t because we all learn in different ways. According to communications theory, to remember anything it must be repeated five or more times. I can only relate to you how I learned to become a better photographer.

It has to do with the repetitive idea of communication theory.

When I retired after 36 years of working for the U. S. Navy as a civilian, I joined a photography club. By that time, I owned a Nikon FA. The club had photo competitions once a month (we met twice). Every other month we either had a theme or open competition. Paid judges critiqued the images and points were given based on the image being picked first, second, etc. We had three levels of competition, beginner, intermediate or advanced. I started out as a beginner and my images were judged against other members in that category. You needed a 100 points to move up a level. After the third year, I moved up to intermediate and two years after to advanced.

The point of this story is that I took hundreds of slides and many of them got critiqued. The critique was ALWAYS how to make the image better. Critique from a knowledgeable photographer is how I got to the point I am now. I never stop learning, either from my students or other photographers. Self critique will NOT make you a better photographer. I still ask for my images to be critiqued.

Join a camera club in your area. I’ve never met a photographer who wasn’t willing to help me.

I teach photography and have been for the last five years. My students range in age from 10-71. The first lecture is on the basic rules of composition. We take field trips and they show me their images and I suggest different perspectives, etc. The students MUST take pictures during the week and I critique them. Class after class we do the same thing.

Every image can be made better in some way. Of course, now with Adobe PhotoShop (we use Elements 6 on an iMAC) there are a lot of tools that can help correct most “mistakes.”

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