As a photographer, critiques are where we get feedback from our peers. Peer feedback is very important in any creative art. The brutal honesty of other photographers is what we need as artists. Family and friends could never be this honest about something they know I care so much about. This is a great way to measure progress on improving your craft. As I always say, a photographer should always look to improve and learn more each day. Critiques are a huge part of my development as an artist. In my opinion, many experienced photographers forget how it was when they were learning. Somehow, they were taught how to make a good image and avoid common mistakes. I have been in many Facebook groups and forums where newer or inexperienced photographers are bashed or joked for the mistakes made in their images. Constructive criticism is meant to be a way of helping someone understand the art of photography. Destructive criticism is what I have witnessed on most occasions throughout my photographic journey.
According to Merriam Webster, constructive means to promote improvement or development. We are probably all guilty of improper critiques at sometime during our journeys. My opinion of a good critique is described as something good, something I would change, and something good overall. If we are truly wanting to help someone out, we should ask the question as we write critiques; is this really helpful? If the answer to that question is yes, then it is constructive criticism. There should also be a follow-up conversation. Find out if you are able to help this photographer outside of a critique. If for some reason the critique makes someone feel dumb or less of a photographer, then this is destructive.
According to Merriam Webster, destructive is designed or tending to hurt or destroy. I know we never mean to really hurt anyone (some of us). Words can be just as destructive as taking someones camera. Okay… Maybe not that destructive. I can remember wanting to quit and do something else, because I just couldn’t seem to get things right. When I learned to love my own work, I was able to weed through all of the destruction that was constantly thrown my way. While providing critiques and advice, we must remember that it should be helpful. There is no way a critique should make an artist contemplate giving up on their craft.
Be mindful of your critiques and always push photographers to be better than they were yesterday.
What are some helpful ways to give a critique? What are some helpful ways to receive a critique?