Getting feedback — the oft overlooked trick to improving your photography
One way to improve your images is to get feedback from other photographers. Sounds simple, right? Well it is — provided you’re able to avoid these common pitfalls and bear traps…
How to get (good!) feedback for your photography…
Step 1: First you have to ASK for feedback!
Asking for feedback on your images is a great way to improve. It’s also a hugely overlooked improvement opportunity — most photographers will never do this. I’m not entirely sure why but I suspect the largest reason is they don’t think they need it. Let me explain with one of my own life experiences…
In September 1998 I was made redundant and part of the severance package was a day’s session with a career consultant in London part of which was to have my CV (resumé) reviewed and critiqued professionally. I pooh-poohed the notion at the time. After all, I’d spent a lot of time on my CV adding all the detail, editing it and making it perfect. As far as I was concerned, it was a total waste of time and I wasn’t in the least bit interested in anything they had to say. After all, this was the best CV I’d ever written and I was really proud of it. With a lot of reluctance and just to get my parents off my back I picked up the phone and arranged the appointment sure in the knowledge there was nothing I could learn from this.
How wrong was I?????
The consultant (I forget her name) absolutely tore my CV to shreds: the layout, the content, every single paragraph and sentence I’d written. I came away from that session feeling I’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I was battered, bloodied and bruised. My ego had just taken a very severe bashing and what’s more I thanked her for it.
Her feedback was the best thing anyone could have done for me at the time. Her comments made me stop, think and take a long, hard look at myself. I picked myself up, dusted myself down, threw away my CV and re-wrote it from scratch. In the ensuing years that one document, just 2 sides of A4, got me some amazing positions and earned me a lot of money.
Lesson learned — I was officially out of work for 2 days following my redundancy. One of my colleagues didn’t bother with his consultation and was out of work for over a year.
Step 2: Ask for feedback for the right REASONS!
People ask for feedback for one of two reasons:
- a genuine desire to improve
- they want their ego stroked
If your motive is to solicit complements then you’re asking for the wrong reason. We see a lot of these requests, mostly in the form of direct messages through social media, and they always go ignored.
Step 3: Ask for feedback from the right PEOPLE!
Who you decide to seek feedback from matters. A lot!
Most forums have some form of a critique section. It’s a quiet corner in which to post your images for constructive critique, usually by tagging them with ‘CC’, then sit back and enjoy a nice cup of tea whilst learned experts give well informed advice. Dream on. Posting the fruits of your hard work on a forum is like leaving a dead antelope on the plains of the Serengetti. You’ve just rung the dinner gong for the trolls.
Forums are very territorial. They’re the feeding ground of tinpot experts who thrive on nit-picking every tiny, insignificant detail in order to score points and assert their authority. Therein lies the problem: you’ve no idea of the knowledge, experience or credibility of those giving advice. Just because they voice an opinion with gusto doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.
Instead, seek feedback from those you know, like and trust. People who consistently impress you with their work who are friendly, approachable and willing to help.
Step 4: Ask for feedback on the right IMAGES!
Be selective with the images you choose. Many of the requests we receive ask us to review entire galleries or websites of images. Clearly this is never going to work. Giving a well balanced, structured critique takes time. A lot of time in fact. It’s far better to be selective and choose images you’d like feedback on for a particular reason rather than just ‘let me know what you think’. After all, if you don’t put the effort into guiding the reviewer, why should the reviewer give up his/her time to give you feedback?
Step 5: Take action
This last step is the most crucial and comes in two parts. The first of which is obvious…
Take action to get feedback. You’re won’t get feedback on your images unless you do something to request it.
The second part is less obvious. There’s little point in requesting feedback if don’t do anything with the information you receive. Make a plan, make time and do something about it. When I returned home having been beaten and bruised by that career consultant, I could have just ignored everything she said and done nothing. Instead I chose to act. I re-wrote my CV, got a new position within a couple of weeks and was only out of work for two days.
An offer for you…
We get a lot of feedback requests, through social media and whilst we do give feedback from time to time (if it’s someone we know and interract with, someone on our free course etc) it takes up a lot of time. Instead, as of today, we’re proposing a new way of giving feedback through theLightMatters.com that’s will benefit both parties.
The free critique lets you submit three images for feedback. We’ll take a look and give you structured feedback through our website and YouTube channel. It’s great for publicity and a link back to your own website or gallery.
If you’re uncomfortable with us sharing your critique, we have a solution. Use our private critique service and we’ll email structured feedback on your images direct to your inbox. It’s a flexible service too. Choose a single image or block purchase up to 10 at discounted pricing then submit your images either individually or all at the same time, it’s up to you. Unused critiques are saved for later letting you submit images weeks, months or even years after purchase.
Hope that helps and look forward to seeing your images.