How To Handle Unwanted Critique of Your Photography

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unwanted-critique.jpgWhen I first started posting my photos online, I longed for people to take a look and comment on them, but then sometimes I wished they just hadn’t bothered.  Not everyone is going to love every single one of our photos, and we’re all going to get our share of critique – whether asked for or not – that we don’t like.  I think this is especially hard for those of us that are just starting off, because you work so hard on something and you think it’s one of the best photos you’ve taken and edited in quite some time, that when you get a critique it feels like they expect a masterpiece from you and don’t appreciate what you have done. Here are some things I try to consider before getting too upset about what people say about my photos.

Take a step back

First of all, remember that they’re not attacking you personally.  Even if you think they sound rude, you have to remember that it’s harder to interpret meaning and tone when you’re reading words on the screen instead of in person.  In addition, the language they’re using to comment on your photo may not be their first language.

Remember that photography is very subjective.  Just because one person doesn’t like something about your photo doesn’t mean that it’s bad – a hundred people could love exactly what the one person is hating.

Also keep in mind that, no matter how good a photographer you are, chances are really high that you’re not the Best Photographer in the World.  Learn to accept that, and realize that we all have to start somewhere, and you will continue to get better with more practice.

Who is it from?

It seems like most of the unwanted critique I get is from people that, as far as I know, know very little about photography.  I had a very good friend of mine – that I’ve never seen taking a photo beyond snapshots of his friends at a party with a point & shoot camera – tell me I should get a lens hood to make my photos better.  I thought about going into the ins and outs of why I didn’t bother having a lens hood on my wide angle lens, and then decided that he probably didn’t even care that much, or feel as strongly about it as did, so I decided it wasn’t worth it.  When someone gives me critique and they’ve never given me a reason to respect their photography knowledge, I smile and nod and forget it.

On the other hand, if it’s someone that I respect and love their work, it’s easy to feel honored instead of annoyed.  Instead of feeling like you’re not good enough for someone you respect, instead think about the fact that someone you think is better than you took the time to try and help you be a better photographer.

Don’t lash back

I mentioned above that I often smile and nod when people give me their advice or tell me what they don’t like.  It’s hard sometimes to fight the urge to justify why you did something, or tell someone why their critique is wrong.  But really, what’s the point in fighting back?  As I mentioned before –  photography is subjective – you can’t prove that a way you edited your photo is the best way, because there is no best way.  If you try to prove that you’re always right or explain everything away, people are going to stop giving you critique because you won’t seem open to it.  At some point, you’re really going to want that critique to help you become a better photographer.

Learn from it

Most of the critique I get is about composition – a tilted horizon or cutting off a tree, body part or some other subject of the photo, etc – and I admit to being a slow learning, but eventually, after hearing those same things over and over, it finally got ingrained in my head and I look closer when composing my shots.  It might not feel good to hear the same comment over and over again, but eventually, you’ll be thankful when you realize it’s sunk in.

The other type of critique I get is about my editing I took the photo you see above of a snow-covered field.  Someone commented on it mentioning that their only gripe about it was the underexposed snow, and mentioned that a ND gradient filter would have been helpful.  I figured there was probably a way to edit the photo so that it looked better, though, so I took the time to figure out how to do it and I ended up with the after photo.

Leave better comments for other people

unwanted-critique-2.jpgI once posted a batch of photos that included the image on the right, and a friend of mine said that while they think I’m a great photographer, that these particular photos weren’t interesting.  I agreed, but I was also thinking about how that wasn’t a helpful comment to me.  For instance, the photo you see here was intentionally simple.  Was it boring because of the subject?  Or did they think there was something I could have done to make this subject more interesting?  I’ve learned now to be more specific with my critiques – and positive feedback, as well – so the photographer can really know what I see and how it makes me feel.

I’ve also found ways that people word things that don’t sound so negative. A classic example of this, for me, is when someone uses phrases like “next time you might want to” or “if it were me, I might” instead of “it would be better if you” or “i never do that”.  The differences might seem subtle, but the first way of saying those things imply that the original image is perfectly fine, but you have a suggestion for a different take, while the second way of saying it implies that your way is the better way – and that brings us back to the fact that photography is subjective – no one way is better, it’s all a matter of taste.

About the Author: Jennifer Jacobs is an amateur photographer who runs iffles.com – a site for photography beginners. She’s also addicted to flickr and you can follow her stream here.

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  • You have some good points in here. I agree that when receiving criticism ask yourself, “Who is this coming from and do I respect their photography and knowledge?” Also important to keep in mind that everyone has different tastes. For example, I do not like HDR photography. You might have a great HDR photo, but I’m probably just not going to like it because it’s not a style I am fond of. Recognize that in your critiquers.

    That being said, I think seeking out criticism is a major part of improving your photography. Sites like Flickr are great to share your work, but rarely will you get valuable critiques out of it. It’s generally a lot of back-slapping and congratulations. Instead, find a professional or professional group like the PPA or ASMP in your area and seek their input and criticism. Guaranteed no matter the level of photographer any person is, they’ll be better for it.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    Good thing to keep in mind … and i’m glad you specifically wrote an article about it … so many people get WAY too defensive / mean / etc when critiques don’t go exactly the way they want (myself very much included!) … it’s good to have an article to remind us that, as you said many times (and rightfully so), photography (and all of the arts, really) is subjective! 🙂

  • I once got a critical/dismissive comment on one of my photos on flickr from someone who (a) had never commented on my photos before and (b) had none of his photos publicly available, but a profile page that was full of how wonderful he was. When I asked him for feedback on how he would improve the photo, he never got back to me.

    I chalked it up to “egotistical idiot” and left him to it.

  • Ben

    Excellent points! Now I know how to react when I actually start getting critiques of my photos beyond the back slapping congratulations type. I’m an amateur, so joining a professional group is out. Any other ideas?

  • I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now even though I am totally clueless when it comes to photography. I have a regular point and shoot and use it to take photos of my food. I have a food blog and I like for people to see pics of the recipe. Although people aren’t usually commenting on my photography skills (or lack thereof) this really hit home today. This morning I got an email from someone who apparently subscribes to my blog. All she said was “The photos are very UN-APPETIZING.” That was it. I’ve been crushed all day but everything you said is right. You can’t please everyone. I don’t know if this person cooks, knows anything about food, or if she even has a food blog herself so I’m trying not to let it bother me. Thanks for posting this. Maybe it will make people see that hurtful comments don’t serve any purpose other than hurting someone’s feelings.

  • Many times, people are very defensive when critiques don’t go exactly the way they want, in cases like friends, or known people.

    It’s easier to receive a critique from an unknown person than a friend, in this case (mostly because we are waiting for a good opinion and not a hard critique)

    But, I think we can go forward this little problems with pratice and time 🙂

    I agree with Matthew Dutile when he said about Flickr. Sometimes it is good to share our work, but it has a big lack of true criticism.

    Sorry my english 🙂

  • One thing I would suggest is to avoid the tactic of assuming that a non-photographer couldn’t possibly have an opinion worth listening. Obviously he/she does in fact have an opinion. We all know what appeals to us. And while a photographer might be able to appreciate the technical difficulties in creating an image, a non-photographer will still appreciate whether the image appeals to his or her tastes.

    Take the criticism and learn from it. You’ve either managed to connect with the viewer on some level or you haven’t. If you haven’t connected, then the next question is, do you want to connect to that viewer? If you do, what do you need to change?

    I don’t think we need to please everyone. In fact, if you try to do that you’ll end up with a mish mash of styles that makes no sense. Instead, focus on your core inner tastes and make what you like better by listening to the criticism surrounding those areas. Eventually you’ll find the audience that really digs your style.

  • I love critique, even when it rubs me the wrong way initially it at least gets me started thinking about something.

    I have a daily photo blog, and would love some constructive criticism, if anyone has the time!

    http://quotidian-photography.blogspot.com/

  • Andrew Rees

    Randy Pausch “The Last Lecture.”

  • This is a very difficult lesson for people to learn. I know that when I first started I felt like I was being personally attacked, and it really bothered me. Over time I have realized that most people are trying to help and some people are just not going to like your style. Even now, I think we all want to receive some positive feedback for our work, but, we need to hear the feedback that will make us a better artist.

  • Andrew Rees

    “When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.”

    Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

  • Dawna Nichola

    Thanks for posting this article. I think it had a lot of valid and helpful points.
    Being new to digital photography and this website (which I LOVE) I have not commented or critiqued anyone’s work. I don’t feel like I have the expertise to do at this time however I have been critiqued and 99% has been very helpful. I have also read MANY critiques on other photos and have learned some things. I did receive a comment I didn’t like and i did get defensive because I was not asking for an opinion after I submitted a reply I was on a man hunt to see what this person has submitted and could find nothing, picture wise,all I could find was replies to others. Then I decided I had to let it go because apparently he wasn’t as good as his comments because he never submitted any photos for our critiquing(or posted any websites for us to view)
    My thoughts are take some critiques with a grain of salt cause not everyone critiquing you has validity or the knowledge to be critiquing a photo. If the picture makes you happy and you like it than that’s what really matters anyway. Happy shooting!!!!

  • I would love to receive comments about my photos so that I could learn more… I have been around long enough to take most with a grain of salt but acclaim or criticism can teach you something.

    I post some on flickr.com but I seem to never get comments… I dont think I suck that bad… It amazes me that some very ordinary shots get 40+ comments then I see a fantastic shot from other photogs that get nothing. ** Is there a Flickr.com secret to getting comments? =) **

    BTW Thanks for all the constructive and instructive comments on DPS Forums!!

    Robert J
    SixTwoImages

  • Chris Sutton

    Great article, thank you and thoroughly enjoy your blog and Flickr pages. . It is very difficult to have your work critiqued and resisting the urge to plant a zoom lens where the sun doesn’t shine can take a lot of strength. I always remind myself of what the ‘committee of taste’ would have been saying when they first espied soe classic like the ‘Mona Lisa’ – you can bet your bottom dollar that there was someone there with very disparaging / discouraging views and advice. I think the most valuable message form the above article is the terminology (and if physically present, the body language) that will help a person see beyond the critique. My greatest critics are my 12yo and 9yo daughters: they have very discerning eyes and have developed, for their age, very gentle ways of letting me know that my latest master piece doesn’t appeal.

  • This article is great and also applies to graphic design. Same work I’ve made was considrered a masterpiece for some people and garbage for others. Those are the best work., the ones that causes impact on people, the closest to art… So, over the years we learn to understand the people feedback and to really want them to be honest.

  • I especially liked the “leave better comments for other people” idea at the end. Many people have unhelpful ideas about what it means to critique someone or their photography. Some think that the idea is to just gush over how altogether wonderful it is, while others think the goal is to find things that are wrong and perhaps even label them as “wrong” or “bad.”

    Good criticism acknowledges what is good in the thing – it give the recipient some important validation and a frame for accepting and understanding the rest of the criticism.

    Good criticism notes observations objectively but avoids personal judgments. It is hard for the recipient to argue with the fact that you observe (and can describe) a thing but if you tell them their work is awful (even if you think so!) they are not going to hear your important observation.

    Good criticism generally does not prescribe one right way to do a thing, though it may suggest one or more alternative approaches.

    Good criticism generally end with a note of affirmation or encouragement.

    I try to follow this when I offer photographic criticism. I generally begin with a positive observation. There is always something but if you can’t find anything it may be best to leave no comment. I might share my appreciation of the subject, or point out some element that was more effective for me. Then I move to things that might be regarded as unsuccessful elements of the photo. I don’t necessarily say ” this is unsuccessful” but I will point out the thing and perhaps a context for it. (“The very large pink rabbit filling the left side of the frame takes my attention away from the small white flower that you say you focused on in this shot. By moving to the right you could make the flower larger and the rabbit smaller…” 😉 Then I’ll conclude with something that is positive – it might be a reminder of what worked in the image or it might be simply “Good luck as you do more work on this!”

    If I really can’t find anything worthwhile in the image I won’t comment at all in most cases. And, if I do critique someone’s work, in almost all cases it is because I see something worthy in it and think that what I have to say might be worthwhile to the photographer. (I confess that I have occasionally fallen short here… 🙂

    Dan

  • I think the people that have the authority to critique another photographer’s work also have the tack to do it in the correct manner. That has been my experience.

  • Thank you for the helpful information. It’s important to remember where the critique is coming from. It’s also important to remember, when leaving a critique, that constructive criticism is the most helpful type of criticism & the most likely to be heard.
    (PS- It seems that the secret to getting comments on a site like Flickr is exposure, not necessarily quality, type or quantity of posts)

    Thanks for posting!

  • johnp

    Thanks, good article. I find if you show a group of people a collection of photos there will always be a lot of differing views about what they consider good or bad photos. It is very much in the eye of the beholder. Many times I have found that a photo I thought was great was ignored but another I had almost deleted as not good enough was cosidered really good. It is hard to be subjective about your own photos.
    Its not other photographers you need necessarily please but you may need to gear your photos to your audience e.g the bride if a wedding has a particular theme. I recently did a wedding shoot with a country, old fashion type theme. That involved making sure the photos fitted that theme (including the settings, B&W, vignettes,etc).

  • In any artistic endeavor, photography, design, painting, you need to have thick skin. My advice, if someone bags your photography, either reasonably or unreasonably, harden up, take it on the chin and don’t lash back because you will look just as bad as them.

    Great post!

  • Carol Butler

    This has been a really hard lesson for me to learn, but I find that when I seek out criticism, I learn a lot more than when someone just tells me “nice job” without really thinking about why.

  • oliver

    Nice article.. thanks for sharing.

  • Hi there –

    Thanks for this very timely blog. I’m having my first exhibition on Friday, and I know there will be criticism, and hopefully some praise. But, even with the praise, it’s all the same – subjective comments.

    Thanks again!

    Anne

  • Dan

    I’m a member of a few forum and here are the problems I see. On some forums people are just ass wholes, unnecessarily rude and snobbish. I doubt they could do better half the time. On DPS I see the opposite. A lot of people give glowing critique with no useful information. Someone could post a terrible image and people would go on and on and say how wonderful it is.

  • hal mooney

    It’s kind assumed, these days, that anyone who shows a picture is looking for a critique, and anyone who’s ever taken a picture is qualified to give one!
    I’m sure that if you cut all the pages out of a book of classic photographs by the masters, and matted them all up for a showing (without telling anyone that they’re famous), most of the people there could tell you tons of things that are wrong with them – too light, too dark, not enough detail in this corner, why did you crop it like this?, etc., etc., etc.
    Besides the obvious – good exposure, composition, etc., it’s usually good to let the photo stand as a piece of art, created with the artist’s own unique point of view. It’s not usually necessary to tear it apart, unless that has been asked for.
    I try not to assume when someone says, “How do you like my picture?”, that they want it shot full of holes.

  • JGamble

    Very nice article and well worth reading.

    G Dan Mitchell makes excellent additions, and what he’s described I heard called a “criticism sandwich”. When giving constructive criticism it’s good to start and end on positive notes. It shows you’ve taken time to evaluate the work and are not just issuing a blanket negative remark.

  • Yeh that is really true last time when i showed my picture to someone she commented negatively on it but the same picture i showed to my other friend who is a photographer, he gave me in depth critique on it rather he loved it. The point which i am trying to make is it all depends on the type of audience you are showing your work.[eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/24376331@N08/4151518944/’ title=’flower Red’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2605/4151518944_c5e1f253a3.jpg’]

  • Kathy

    I find that critiques are just one person’s opinion. Photography should be fun! It’s a hobby we all enjoy and one person’s comment should not destroy that fun. You could show the same image to 100 people and get 100 different critiques. Like Jennifer said, learn from the constructive criticisms on composition and editing and leave the subjective opinions where they belong – at the curb.

  • i think, one good thing about getting criticism is that it means someone takes the time to look at your photos. 🙂

  • Negative input about your work is always hard to take, but I find that once I get over my initial hurt about what the person said, I need to think about whether or not I think what they said is actually true. Considering the source of the comment helps in knowing whether they are making a flippant comment or something truly constructive.

    One of the things I have found is that I become a much better photographer from those comments than from the ones telling me how great I am. It makes me try harder and focus more on the little details that I sometimes miss.

    The other thing I have to keep in mind is that there are times when I think a shot was just okay and then I get an amazing response to it. I am always left wondering how I missed that. So, it goes both ways.

  • Wendy Rosier

    Very Insightful! The word Critique has at its core the definition of “tending to find fault” so it is easy to be upset by one or to cause distress if you give one. Thank you for softening the focus of the subject.

  • Diem

    I just had a conversation with a friend in regards to out of focus shot on another friend’s face on a multiple shots of my photo. Personally I love them, mainly because I’m looking at it from art perspective. It’s deliberate, when you press the shutter, you’re making that decision. if you don’t like them, you delete them. It also reminds me of Springsteen’s The Rising cover album, which I’m a huge fan of :)). But you can’t satisfy some people. I love landscapes as much as the next person, but seriously, sometimes I wish there’s something like a Salvador Dali landscape I can take pictures of.

    Photography, IMHO, is more than taking sharp photos, composition and all the techniques you can learn. It’s also art, which can mean it can be self indugent. While no one can deny Picasso is the master, a 3 year old will look at some of his line painting and thought it was his own drawing. I don’t think Picasso ever worried about that.

    I think that maybe it’s better to associate with people who doesnt share your perspective so that the two of you will not l take the same pretty scenery shot again and again, but maybe I need to rethink my strategy.

    It is not that hard to take a focussed shot if you’ve spend some time with your camera. To me, it’s my choice, don’t let anyone tell you rules are there and they’re not meant to be broken.

  • All excellent points.
    I’ll offer one other point of view that I’ve found helpful to both the art of critique and to those whose work I’ve left comments on. This POV comes from a workshop by a teacher of photographers, and teacher of teachers, Sean Kernan, and was presented as a way of approaching class sessions when we evaluated work taken the day before on assignment.
    Rather than plunge in with a “critique” mentality (since, as you note, it’s often subjective), he suggested that we take a “feedback” approach; we would start by really looking at each photo As It Was, assuming First that it was taken the way the photographer meant to take it, and to look at what we would discover in the photo. When it came time to offer feedback, we would start by saying what we could see, and what impressions, suggestions, feelings, meanings, etc we took from the work as it was. That approach first obligates me to be open minded toward the work, among other things, and gives me information to be honest And specific about when I speak/write/comment to give feedback. Given that kind of feedback on my own work from several people, I can see what I’ve communicated and evaluate if I was successful or off the mark I intended to hit. If, then, I have questions about what, in my photos, gives the impressions the viewers predominately got, I can ask intelligent targeted constructive questions of both the viewers and myself, and either choose differently with my next print/shoot to either correct the impression my work gave or to strengthen what worked in my image.
    When it comes to critique, your point about asking who’s giving it also suggests another criterion: what’s the intended use of the photo? Critique of a fashion shot won’t work as critique of a portrait; the intentions are quite different. With feedback, however, intention isn’t quite so relevant, since I’m simply letting the photographer know what he/she created in me, the viewer. I don’t need to know the intended result to give that. The photographer, however, can apply the feedback to his intended purpose even better than I ever could as a commenter, especially if I don’t happen to be knowledgeable or experienced or even Interested in the field the photographer is working in.
    Critique has its place and value, but for commenting in public forums like Flickr, etc, I most always opt to give feedback, instead. That, I Can Give.
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwayneup/3653024552/’ title=’What was I W8ing 4?’ url=’http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3633/3653024552_01f1656f22.jpg’]

  • dana

    I think it takes more to handle your comments – also the “Great shot I love it” ones – they´re not as helpful as they seem to be.
    Why? Because we all want to be good friends and be polite. It doesn´t hurt to say I like it but maybe it prevents some hobby photographer from getting better – because they think they´re already fantastic – and they aren´t.
    If I see a shared picture that isn´t even focussed and I read comments on that like Fantastic, brilliant sharpness I don´t know what do to – do i dare to say, try more focussing – do I ask what the intention was?
    In that case the photographer will probably hate me for doing so.
    Commenting critical isn´t easy too.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    I agree with a lot of the posts above … posts like “great shot” or “i like this” isn’t helpful, BUT you don’t want to tick people off or ruin their self-esteem by being OVERLY critical … what i try to do is for every negative thing i have to say, find a positive thing to say as well … and always put the positive one first … like “oh, that is a really nice composition! my only thing is maybe it would add to it if you ……..” being fairly new (and as a result fairly timid) with photography, i personally find those kinds of comments the best … because it first builds you up so that you’re more “able” and willing to take the criticism … and from the comments i’ve seen on people’s shots, criticisms in that form seem to really bring about constructive conversation instead of degrading quickly to “well, you don’t know what you’re talking about” and snide remarks … but, as with photography itself, the whole criticism thing is subjective as well … i’m probably more touchy about bad comments than most, so that formula works best for me … i have friends that would rather you give them a comment like “you know, i think this pictures sucks because of this and this and this” … something like that would probably make me never want to take another photo!

    but, that’s just my two cents … take it however you want 😉 … and thanks again to the creators and contributors of this site!!! i wouldn’t know even 1/16 of what i know now about photography if it wasn’t for such a great site! (oh, and no criticism to follow that positive comment haha)

  • MzJaxn

    I absolutely love this article! I am also a new beginner and get very self-conscious about my work and what I am trying to accomplish. I am so hard on myself. I realize that there are millions of other photographers who blow me and my photos out of the water but everyone has to start somewhere.

  • Great post. These are exactly the same things I keep in mind when facing criticism of my mixed media pieces or my writing.

    It’s not always easy, but over time, it does become easier to recognize what’s valid/helpful criticism and what is not.

    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • Sujoy Roy

    I really like this post. I am also a beginner and this exactly depicting my story. After putting up long hours behind a particular photo what I come to know from some critique that it is not up to standard and sometime they don’t even bother to give reason. And sometime critiques gives lots of congrats! but without pointing out their view point and naturally I could not check with them whether my viewpoint and their viewpoints are same.

  • Mike Davis

    Really a good, heartfelt article. Artists are sometimes a sensitive group, as that is what makes them great.

    I quit asking for opinions years ago and agree that most of those comments don’t come from people who study the art as much as we. “One man’s ceiling, is another man’s floor”

    Perfect Exposures,
    Mike Davis

  • This article resonates with me as it’s one of the things I fear most.
    I’ve always felt, as others do, that photography is subjective. And just because I prefer one style, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate another.
    I firmly agree with the comments toward the end of the article that encourage us to think about the way in which we will deliver the critique.
    I had an experience that both hurt and helped me. One photographer in our area contacted me by email after looking at some of my pix and basically trashed them. The fact I hadn’t asked him to look or asked for advice only added to the surprise. He said he felt he needed to be harsh because that’s how he was treated when he started.
    Another photographer looked at the same pictures and instead of trashing them, offered ways in which I might improve them. The message was delivered in a much different manner. I took his advice and it did help immensely. I look back at my earlier work and I shake my head at what they look like compared to ones I’ve taken after studying the subject more.
    My point being, just because you were treated badly, doesn’t mean you need to perpetuate the behavior.
    I’ve been a coach in sports and found that by correcting by encouragement, goes much further than just pointing out mistakes in a demeaning way.
    We all leave an imprint in this life. The type of impression you leave is a choice only you can make.

  • Joy

    Great article, confirmed my feelings on people commenting on my photos, it is subjective, I like what I like, and others like what they like. Thanks for telling us….it’s ok to do what you like.

  • Very well said! It’s easy to quickly take offense at a negative comment but really if we just step back it can turn into a learning moment. Btw, I LOVE the picture of the black and white office building? that your friend considered boring. I love the simpleness and the geometrical shape of the windows. Beauty is truly all in the eyes of the beholder. One more reason, not to take offense!

  • Valkyri

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so forgive me if somoene has said something similar but I took a little bit of exception when the author implied that those with little or no photography experience don’t get to have an opinion or that the opinion is diminished in value. The example used, regarding lenses is valid of course – if you don’t know how to use lenses yourself, why are you telling someone else how to do it? I get that, and as a novice I shy away from giving advice of that type. More because I don’t want to sound stupid…

    However, I do know what is aesthetically pleasing to me. I did read far enough to see more than once “people have different tastes” and that’s true, but without sufficient feedback you aren’t going to know if it’s a matter of taste or if really, that one might not be what you thought it was. For instance, I posted one not long ago and I love it because it’s a picture of my grandson and I love him, sometimes it’s a case of you liking your subject so much it’s clouding your judgment. Maybe the experience or memory of the photo has given you a subjective view, for instance a trip photo, the trip was awesome so you see it that way while an objective observer sees only the image.

    If you knock novices from giving critique simply because “they don’t know anything” then you’re leaving out your wider audience – if you ONLY ever want to show your pictures to other photographers then feel free to bask in your technical expertise, but don’t forget that art is for everyone to appreciate, not just those that know how to do it. I have the same beef with writers, illustrators and musicians – if you concentrate on pleasing other illustrators or musicians by doing incredibly difficult things that make them go “awe” – you might be missing the point of art entirely, because that technically difficult music sounds like cat-scratches to me. Writers of pure literature glory – don’t sell as much as Dean Koontz. Art for artists is often not that appealing to the non-artist, keep that in mind before you toss out the novice or the non-artist’s advice – at least if you want to appeal to a large audience of non-peers, which as I’ve said already, IS (or at least should be) the point of art.

    So, if I offer critique and say “that model looks awkward” and have no real solution – I am noting what the average person will notice and go “meh” about. Maybe I don’t even see that the crop is all wrong and some filter should have been applied and the contrast is minutely off… but what I do see is what screams out to the average person and that, in my opinion, is what needs to be fixed first and those things are often what the technical experts miss entirely because they’re too focused on all the details.

    Just my two cents.

  • Gabriele Cripezzi

    1) Photography is not subjective. Painting may be, but not photography – 2) The problem with people is that they have been rewarded just for trying since they were young kids and so they are not able to accept criticism. Moral of the story, excellent photographers don’t have competition, the snappers do!

  • David Andrest

    Bravo!!! You summed it up perfectly.

    Btw which do you like better. This shot in color or black and white????

  • freeopinions

    1.) Why/how is photography not subjective?

    2.) What makes one an excellent photographer? Who decides what constitutes excellence? Could it be subjective?

  • freeopinions

    😉 I see what you did there…

  • Gabriele Cripezzi

    1) you are a moron. If you were smart, you wouldn’t as this question.
    2) I decide, Hollywood decides, experts decide

  • freeopinions

    I see. Thank you for your objective opinion.

  • Online Image

    Photography is a method for feeling, of contacting, of adoring. What you have gotten on film is caught everlastingly… It recollects seemingly insignificant details, long after you have overlooked everything.

    You can freely check your image and competitor via free tool Reverse image search

Some Older Comments

  • Valkyri February 22, 2012 06:59 am

    I didn't read all of the comments, so forgive me if somoene has said something similar but I took a little bit of exception when the author implied that those with little or no photography experience don't get to have an opinion or that the opinion is diminished in value. The example used, regarding lenses is valid of course - if you don't know how to use lenses yourself, why are you telling someone else how to do it? I get that, and as a novice I shy away from giving advice of that type. More because I don't want to sound stupid...

    However, I do know what is aesthetically pleasing to me. I did read far enough to see more than once "people have different tastes" and that's true, but without sufficient feedback you aren't going to know if it's a matter of taste or if really, that one might not be what you thought it was. For instance, I posted one not long ago and I love it because it's a picture of my grandson and I love him, sometimes it's a case of you liking your subject so much it's clouding your judgment. Maybe the experience or memory of the photo has given you a subjective view, for instance a trip photo, the trip was awesome so you see it that way while an objective observer sees only the image.

    If you knock novices from giving critique simply because "they don't know anything" then you're leaving out your wider audience - if you ONLY ever want to show your pictures to other photographers then feel free to bask in your technical expertise, but don't forget that art is for everyone to appreciate, not just those that know how to do it. I have the same beef with writers, illustrators and musicians - if you concentrate on pleasing other illustrators or musicians by doing incredibly difficult things that make them go "awe" - you might be missing the point of art entirely, because that technically difficult music sounds like cat-scratches to me. Writers of pure literature glory - don't sell as much as Dean Koontz. Art for artists is often not that appealing to the non-artist, keep that in mind before you toss out the novice or the non-artist's advice - at least if you want to appeal to a large audience of non-peers, which as I've said already, IS (or at least should be) the point of art.

    So, if I offer critique and say "that model looks awkward" and have no real solution - I am noting what the average person will notice and go "meh" about. Maybe I don't even see that the crop is all wrong and some filter should have been applied and the contrast is minutely off... but what I do see is what screams out to the average person and that, in my opinion, is what needs to be fixed first and those things are often what the technical experts miss entirely because they're too focused on all the details.

    Just my two cents.

  • Katie@How to take great photos April 17, 2011 08:34 am

    Very well said! It's easy to quickly take offense at a negative comment but really if we just step back it can turn into a learning moment. Btw, I LOVE the picture of the black and white office building? that your friend considered boring. I love the simpleness and the geometrical shape of the windows. Beauty is truly all in the eyes of the beholder. One more reason, not to take offense!

  • Joy January 28, 2011 07:50 am

    Great article, confirmed my feelings on people commenting on my photos, it is subjective, I like what I like, and others like what they like. Thanks for telling us....it's ok to do what you like.

  • Merle January 28, 2011 03:00 am

    This article resonates with me as it's one of the things I fear most.
    I've always felt, as others do, that photography is subjective. And just because I prefer one style, doesn't mean I can't appreciate another.
    I firmly agree with the comments toward the end of the article that encourage us to think about the way in which we will deliver the critique.
    I had an experience that both hurt and helped me. One photographer in our area contacted me by email after looking at some of my pix and basically trashed them. The fact I hadn't asked him to look or asked for advice only added to the surprise. He said he felt he needed to be harsh because that's how he was treated when he started.
    Another photographer looked at the same pictures and instead of trashing them, offered ways in which I might improve them. The message was delivered in a much different manner. I took his advice and it did help immensely. I look back at my earlier work and I shake my head at what they look like compared to ones I've taken after studying the subject more.
    My point being, just because you were treated badly, doesn't mean you need to perpetuate the behavior.
    I've been a coach in sports and found that by correcting by encouragement, goes much further than just pointing out mistakes in a demeaning way.
    We all leave an imprint in this life. The type of impression you leave is a choice only you can make.

  • Mike Davis September 23, 2010 09:24 am

    Really a good, heartfelt article. Artists are sometimes a sensitive group, as that is what makes them great.

    I quit asking for opinions years ago and agree that most of those comments don't come from people who study the art as much as we. "One man's ceiling, is another man's floor"

    Perfect Exposures,
    Mike Davis

  • Sujoy Roy February 12, 2010 07:29 pm

    I really like this post. I am also a beginner and this exactly depicting my story. After putting up long hours behind a particular photo what I come to know from some critique that it is not up to standard and sometime they don't even bother to give reason. And sometime critiques gives lots of congrats! but without pointing out their view point and naturally I could not check with them whether my viewpoint and their viewpoints are same.

  • Jennifer Moore December 23, 2009 07:53 am

    Great post. These are exactly the same things I keep in mind when facing criticism of my mixed media pieces or my writing.

    It's not always easy, but over time, it does become easier to recognize what's valid/helpful criticism and what is not.

    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • MzJaxn December 12, 2009 08:02 am

    I absolutely love this article! I am also a new beginner and get very self-conscious about my work and what I am trying to accomplish. I am so hard on myself. I realize that there are millions of other photographers who blow me and my photos out of the water but everyone has to start somewhere.

  • Jesse Kaufman December 10, 2009 04:05 am

    I agree with a lot of the posts above ... posts like "great shot" or "i like this" isn't helpful, BUT you don't want to tick people off or ruin their self-esteem by being OVERLY critical ... what i try to do is for every negative thing i have to say, find a positive thing to say as well ... and always put the positive one first ... like "oh, that is a really nice composition! my only thing is maybe it would add to it if you ........" being fairly new (and as a result fairly timid) with photography, i personally find those kinds of comments the best ... because it first builds you up so that you're more "able" and willing to take the criticism ... and from the comments i've seen on people's shots, criticisms in that form seem to really bring about constructive conversation instead of degrading quickly to "well, you don't know what you're talking about" and snide remarks ... but, as with photography itself, the whole criticism thing is subjective as well ... i'm probably more touchy about bad comments than most, so that formula works best for me ... i have friends that would rather you give them a comment like "you know, i think this pictures sucks because of this and this and this" ... something like that would probably make me never want to take another photo!

    but, that's just my two cents ... take it however you want ;) ... and thanks again to the creators and contributors of this site!!! i wouldn't know even 1/16 of what i know now about photography if it wasn't for such a great site! (oh, and no criticism to follow that positive comment haha)

  • dana December 10, 2009 03:58 am

    I think it takes more to handle your comments - also the "Great shot I love it" ones - they´re not as helpful as they seem to be.
    Why? Because we all want to be good friends and be polite. It doesn´t hurt to say I like it but maybe it prevents some hobby photographer from getting better - because they think they´re already fantastic - and they aren´t.
    If I see a shared picture that isn´t even focussed and I read comments on that like Fantastic, brilliant sharpness I don´t know what do to - do i dare to say, try more focussing - do I ask what the intention was?
    In that case the photographer will probably hate me for doing so.
    Commenting critical isn´t easy too.

  • Wayne Upchurch December 8, 2009 12:49 pm

    All excellent points.
    I'll offer one other point of view that I've found helpful to both the art of critique and to those whose work I've left comments on. This POV comes from a workshop by a teacher of photographers, and teacher of teachers, Sean Kernan, and was presented as a way of approaching class sessions when we evaluated work taken the day before on assignment.
    Rather than plunge in with a "critique" mentality (since, as you note, it's often subjective), he suggested that we take a "feedback" approach; we would start by really looking at each photo As It Was, assuming First that it was taken the way the photographer meant to take it, and to look at what we would discover in the photo. When it came time to offer feedback, we would start by saying what we could see, and what impressions, suggestions, feelings, meanings, etc we took from the work as it was. That approach first obligates me to be open minded toward the work, among other things, and gives me information to be honest And specific about when I speak/write/comment to give feedback. Given that kind of feedback on my own work from several people, I can see what I've communicated and evaluate if I was successful or off the mark I intended to hit. If, then, I have questions about what, in my photos, gives the impressions the viewers predominately got, I can ask intelligent targeted constructive questions of both the viewers and myself, and either choose differently with my next print/shoot to either correct the impression my work gave or to strengthen what worked in my image.
    When it comes to critique, your point about asking who's giving it also suggests another criterion: what's the intended use of the photo? Critique of a fashion shot won't work as critique of a portrait; the intentions are quite different. With feedback, however, intention isn't quite so relevant, since I'm simply letting the photographer know what he/she created in me, the viewer. I don't need to know the intended result to give that. The photographer, however, can apply the feedback to his intended purpose even better than I ever could as a commenter, especially if I don't happen to be knowledgeable or experienced or even Interested in the field the photographer is working in.
    Critique has its place and value, but for commenting in public forums like Flickr, etc, I most always opt to give feedback, instead. That, I Can Give.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwayneup/3653024552/' title='What was I W8ing 4?' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3633/3653024552_01f1656f22.jpg']

  • Diem December 7, 2009 02:16 pm

    I just had a conversation with a friend in regards to out of focus shot on another friend's face on a multiple shots of my photo. Personally I love them, mainly because I'm looking at it from art perspective. It's deliberate, when you press the shutter, you're making that decision. if you don't like them, you delete them. It also reminds me of Springsteen's The Rising cover album, which I'm a huge fan of :)). But you can't satisfy some people. I love landscapes as much as the next person, but seriously, sometimes I wish there's something like a Salvador Dali landscape I can take pictures of.

    Photography, IMHO, is more than taking sharp photos, composition and all the techniques you can learn. It's also art, which can mean it can be self indugent. While no one can deny Picasso is the master, a 3 year old will look at some of his line painting and thought it was his own drawing. I don't think Picasso ever worried about that.

    I think that maybe it's better to associate with people who doesnt share your perspective so that the two of you will not l take the same pretty scenery shot again and again, but maybe I need to rethink my strategy.

    It is not that hard to take a focussed shot if you've spend some time with your camera. To me, it's my choice, don't let anyone tell you rules are there and they're not meant to be broken.

  • Wendy Rosier December 6, 2009 05:36 pm

    Very Insightful! The word Critique has at its core the definition of "tending to find fault" so it is easy to be upset by one or to cause distress if you give one. Thank you for softening the focus of the subject.

  • Paula Cobleigh December 5, 2009 04:23 am

    Negative input about your work is always hard to take, but I find that once I get over my initial hurt about what the person said, I need to think about whether or not I think what they said is actually true. Considering the source of the comment helps in knowing whether they are making a flippant comment or something truly constructive.

    One of the things I have found is that I become a much better photographer from those comments than from the ones telling me how great I am. It makes me try harder and focus more on the little details that I sometimes miss.

    The other thing I have to keep in mind is that there are times when I think a shot was just okay and then I get an amazing response to it. I am always left wondering how I missed that. So, it goes both ways.

  • jojit December 5, 2009 02:33 am

    i think, one good thing about getting criticism is that it means someone takes the time to look at your photos. :)

  • Kathy December 5, 2009 01:43 am

    I find that critiques are just one person's opinion. Photography should be fun! It's a hobby we all enjoy and one person's comment should not destroy that fun. You could show the same image to 100 people and get 100 different critiques. Like Jennifer said, learn from the constructive criticisms on composition and editing and leave the subjective opinions where they belong - at the curb.

  • Nauman Abdul hafeez December 4, 2009 11:24 am

    Yeh that is really true last time when i showed my picture to someone she commented negatively on it but the same picture i showed to my other friend who is a photographer, he gave me in depth critique on it rather he loved it. The point which i am trying to make is it all depends on the type of audience you are showing your work.[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/24376331@N08/4151518944/' title='flower Red' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2605/4151518944_c5e1f253a3.jpg']

  • JGamble December 4, 2009 06:03 am

    Very nice article and well worth reading.

    G Dan Mitchell makes excellent additions, and what he's described I heard called a "criticism sandwich". When giving constructive criticism it's good to start and end on positive notes. It shows you've taken time to evaluate the work and are not just issuing a blanket negative remark.

  • hal mooney December 4, 2009 05:43 am

    It's kind assumed, these days, that anyone who shows a picture is looking for a critique, and anyone who's ever taken a picture is qualified to give one!
    I'm sure that if you cut all the pages out of a book of classic photographs by the masters, and matted them all up for a showing (without telling anyone that they're famous), most of the people there could tell you tons of things that are wrong with them - too light, too dark, not enough detail in this corner, why did you crop it like this?, etc., etc., etc.
    Besides the obvious - good exposure, composition, etc., it's usually good to let the photo stand as a piece of art, created with the artist's own unique point of view. It's not usually necessary to tear it apart, unless that has been asked for.
    I try not to assume when someone says, "How do you like my picture?", that they want it shot full of holes.

  • Dan December 3, 2009 12:07 pm

    I'm a member of a few forum and here are the problems I see. On some forums people are just ass wholes, unnecessarily rude and snobbish. I doubt they could do better half the time. On DPS I see the opposite. A lot of people give glowing critique with no useful information. Someone could post a terrible image and people would go on and on and say how wonderful it is.

  • Anne December 3, 2009 05:49 am

    Hi there -

    Thanks for this very timely blog. I'm having my first exhibition on Friday, and I know there will be criticism, and hopefully some praise. But, even with the praise, it's all the same - subjective comments.

    Thanks again!

    Anne

  • oliver December 2, 2009 05:06 pm

    Nice article.. thanks for sharing.

  • Carol Butler December 2, 2009 04:23 pm

    This has been a really hard lesson for me to learn, but I find that when I seek out criticism, I learn a lot more than when someone just tells me "nice job" without really thinking about why.

  • Jonathan December 2, 2009 03:33 pm

    In any artistic endeavor, photography, design, painting, you need to have thick skin. My advice, if someone bags your photography, either reasonably or unreasonably, harden up, take it on the chin and don't lash back because you will look just as bad as them.

    Great post!

  • johnp December 2, 2009 03:31 pm

    Thanks, good article. I find if you show a group of people a collection of photos there will always be a lot of differing views about what they consider good or bad photos. It is very much in the eye of the beholder. Many times I have found that a photo I thought was great was ignored but another I had almost deleted as not good enough was cosidered really good. It is hard to be subjective about your own photos.
    Its not other photographers you need necessarily please but you may need to gear your photos to your audience e.g the bride if a wedding has a particular theme. I recently did a wedding shoot with a country, old fashion type theme. That involved making sure the photos fitted that theme (including the settings, B&W, vignettes,etc).

  • samsstuff December 2, 2009 02:28 pm

    Thank you for the helpful information. It's important to remember where the critique is coming from. It's also important to remember, when leaving a critique, that constructive criticism is the most helpful type of criticism & the most likely to be heard.
    (PS- It seems that the secret to getting comments on a site like Flickr is exposure, not necessarily quality, type or quantity of posts)

    Thanks for posting!

  • Jason Collin Photography December 2, 2009 02:15 pm

    I think the people that have the authority to critique another photographer's work also have the tack to do it in the correct manner. That has been my experience.

  • G Dan Mitchell December 2, 2009 11:37 am

    I especially liked the "leave better comments for other people" idea at the end. Many people have unhelpful ideas about what it means to critique someone or their photography. Some think that the idea is to just gush over how altogether wonderful it is, while others think the goal is to find things that are wrong and perhaps even label them as "wrong" or "bad."

    Good criticism acknowledges what is good in the thing - it give the recipient some important validation and a frame for accepting and understanding the rest of the criticism.

    Good criticism notes observations objectively but avoids personal judgments. It is hard for the recipient to argue with the fact that you observe (and can describe) a thing but if you tell them their work is awful (even if you think so!) they are not going to hear your important observation.

    Good criticism generally does not prescribe one right way to do a thing, though it may suggest one or more alternative approaches.

    Good criticism generally end with a note of affirmation or encouragement.

    I try to follow this when I offer photographic criticism. I generally begin with a positive observation. There is always something but if you can't find anything it may be best to leave no comment. I might share my appreciation of the subject, or point out some element that was more effective for me. Then I move to things that might be regarded as unsuccessful elements of the photo. I don't necessarily say " this is unsuccessful" but I will point out the thing and perhaps a context for it. ("The very large pink rabbit filling the left side of the frame takes my attention away from the small white flower that you say you focused on in this shot. By moving to the right you could make the flower larger and the rabbit smaller..." ;-) Then I'll conclude with something that is positive - it might be a reminder of what worked in the image or it might be simply "Good luck as you do more work on this!"

    If I really can't find anything worthwhile in the image I won't comment at all in most cases. And, if I do critique someone's work, in almost all cases it is because I see something worthy in it and think that what I have to say might be worthwhile to the photographer. (I confess that I have occasionally fallen short here... :-)

    Dan

  • Helder December 2, 2009 09:43 am

    This article is great and also applies to graphic design. Same work I've made was considrered a masterpiece for some people and garbage for others. Those are the best work., the ones that causes impact on people, the closest to art... So, over the years we learn to understand the people feedback and to really want them to be honest.

  • Chris Sutton December 2, 2009 09:35 am

    Great article, thank you and thoroughly enjoy your blog and Flickr pages. . It is very difficult to have your work critiqued and resisting the urge to plant a zoom lens where the sun doesn't shine can take a lot of strength. I always remind myself of what the 'committee of taste' would have been saying when they first espied soe classic like the 'Mona Lisa' - you can bet your bottom dollar that there was someone there with very disparaging / discouraging views and advice. I think the most valuable message form the above article is the terminology (and if physically present, the body language) that will help a person see beyond the critique. My greatest critics are my 12yo and 9yo daughters: they have very discerning eyes and have developed, for their age, very gentle ways of letting me know that my latest master piece doesn't appeal.

  • Robert J December 2, 2009 08:45 am

    I would love to receive comments about my photos so that I could learn more... I have been around long enough to take most with a grain of salt but acclaim or criticism can teach you something.

    I post some on flickr.com but I seem to never get comments... I dont think I suck that bad... It amazes me that some very ordinary shots get 40+ comments then I see a fantastic shot from other photogs that get nothing. ** Is there a Flickr.com secret to getting comments? =) **

    BTW Thanks for all the constructive and instructive comments on DPS Forums!!

    Robert J
    SixTwoImages

  • Dawna Nichola December 2, 2009 08:39 am

    Thanks for posting this article. I think it had a lot of valid and helpful points.
    Being new to digital photography and this website (which I LOVE) I have not commented or critiqued anyone's work. I don't feel like I have the expertise to do at this time however I have been critiqued and 99% has been very helpful. I have also read MANY critiques on other photos and have learned some things. I did receive a comment I didn't like and i did get defensive because I was not asking for an opinion after I submitted a reply I was on a man hunt to see what this person has submitted and could find nothing, picture wise,all I could find was replies to others. Then I decided I had to let it go because apparently he wasn't as good as his comments because he never submitted any photos for our critiquing(or posted any websites for us to view)
    My thoughts are take some critiques with a grain of salt cause not everyone critiquing you has validity or the knowledge to be critiquing a photo. If the picture makes you happy and you like it than that's what really matters anyway. Happy shooting!!!!

  • Andrew Rees December 2, 2009 08:01 am

    "When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care."

    Randy Pausch, "The Last Lecture"

  • John Murray December 2, 2009 08:00 am

    This is a very difficult lesson for people to learn. I know that when I first started I felt like I was being personally attacked, and it really bothered me. Over time I have realized that most people are trying to help and some people are just not going to like your style. Even now, I think we all want to receive some positive feedback for our work, but, we need to hear the feedback that will make us a better artist.

  • Andrew Rees December 2, 2009 07:59 am

    Randy Pausch "The Last Lecture."

  • Jessica S. December 2, 2009 07:56 am

    I love critique, even when it rubs me the wrong way initially it at least gets me started thinking about something.

    I have a daily photo blog, and would love some constructive criticism, if anyone has the time!

    http://quotidian-photography.blogspot.com/

  • David Terry December 2, 2009 07:41 am

    One thing I would suggest is to avoid the tactic of assuming that a non-photographer couldn't possibly have an opinion worth listening. Obviously he/she does in fact have an opinion. We all know what appeals to us. And while a photographer might be able to appreciate the technical difficulties in creating an image, a non-photographer will still appreciate whether the image appeals to his or her tastes.

    Take the criticism and learn from it. You've either managed to connect with the viewer on some level or you haven't. If you haven't connected, then the next question is, do you want to connect to that viewer? If you do, what do you need to change?

    I don't think we need to please everyone. In fact, if you try to do that you'll end up with a mish mash of styles that makes no sense. Instead, focus on your core inner tastes and make what you like better by listening to the criticism surrounding those areas. Eventually you'll find the audience that really digs your style.

  • Daniel Filipe Bento December 2, 2009 07:32 am

    Many times, people are very defensive when critiques don't go exactly the way they want, in cases like friends, or known people.

    It's easier to receive a critique from an unknown person than a friend, in this case (mostly because we are waiting for a good opinion and not a hard critique)

    But, I think we can go forward this little problems with pratice and time :)

    I agree with Matthew Dutile when he said about Flickr. Sometimes it is good to share our work, but it has a big lack of true criticism.

    Sorry my english :)

  • Michele December 2, 2009 07:18 am

    I've been reading your blog for a few months now even though I am totally clueless when it comes to photography. I have a regular point and shoot and use it to take photos of my food. I have a food blog and I like for people to see pics of the recipe. Although people aren't usually commenting on my photography skills (or lack thereof) this really hit home today. This morning I got an email from someone who apparently subscribes to my blog. All she said was "The photos are very UN-APPETIZING." That was it. I've been crushed all day but everything you said is right. You can't please everyone. I don't know if this person cooks, knows anything about food, or if she even has a food blog herself so I'm trying not to let it bother me. Thanks for posting this. Maybe it will make people see that hurtful comments don't serve any purpose other than hurting someone's feelings.

  • Ben December 2, 2009 07:11 am

    Excellent points! Now I know how to react when I actually start getting critiques of my photos beyond the back slapping congratulations type. I'm an amateur, so joining a professional group is out. Any other ideas?

  • rosamundi December 2, 2009 07:03 am

    I once got a critical/dismissive comment on one of my photos on flickr from someone who (a) had never commented on my photos before and (b) had none of his photos publicly available, but a profile page that was full of how wonderful he was. When I asked him for feedback on how he would improve the photo, he never got back to me.

    I chalked it up to "egotistical idiot" and left him to it.

  • Jesse Kaufman December 2, 2009 06:43 am

    Good thing to keep in mind ... and i'm glad you specifically wrote an article about it ... so many people get WAY too defensive / mean / etc when critiques don't go exactly the way they want (myself very much included!) ... it's good to have an article to remind us that, as you said many times (and rightfully so), photography (and all of the arts, really) is subjective! :)

  • Matthew Dutile December 2, 2009 06:19 am

    You have some good points in here. I agree that when receiving criticism ask yourself, "Who is this coming from and do I respect their photography and knowledge?" Also important to keep in mind that everyone has different tastes. For example, I do not like HDR photography. You might have a great HDR photo, but I'm probably just not going to like it because it's not a style I am fond of. Recognize that in your critiquers.

    That being said, I think seeking out criticism is a major part of improving your photography. Sites like Flickr are great to share your work, but rarely will you get valuable critiques out of it. It's generally a lot of back-slapping and congratulations. Instead, find a professional or professional group like the PPA or ASMP in your area and seek their input and criticism. Guaranteed no matter the level of photographer any person is, they'll be better for it.

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