If you want to continue to grow as a photographer you need to have honest, real time feedback and yes, criticism. Sure, you can ask a friend maybe see if Mom wants to flip through your portfolio and you might get some feedback but more than likely you’ll get some “wow, that’s a cool shot” or “Honey! This picture is lovely!” but no really push back on your composition or lack of. So, go find a photo editor.
Not the Photoshop or Gimp type of photo editor, I mean a real live person that looks at photography all day everyday and can burn through 2000 images and find the best ten before you’re into your second cup of coffee. They’re out there but there’s probably 1 for every 10,000 photographers. The internet and social media are no place to get feedback on your photography. Social media is cursory at best and doesn’t provide any meaningful feedback to help your photography. It either feeds your ego or reinforces bad habits. Everyone likes the likes. We’re simple creatures we want to be liked but it’s not getting you better at photography.
With the reduction in staff positions and the increased workload put on the editors at magazines and newspapers the photographer/editor interaction gets less and less. In some cases nothing at all, it’s up to us as photographers to actively seek out editors or skilled people willing to critique our work in meaningful ways. I’ve been fortunate to have connected with a retired National Geographic photo editor and she’s only 45 minutes away. She absolutely loves looking at photography, which is the case with most, I believe. One of the most valuable aspects of sitting with and editor and going through a whole shoot is watching what grabs their attention. When I sit with her, she wants everything, this is way different than a portfolio review, it’s laying everything on the table even the warm-up shots. This requires a bit of thick skin but it’s well worth it. They don’t have the backstory, they don’t care how hard it was to make that shot, they care about the quality of light, the composition the colors, the image. So some of those shots that you’re in love with and proud of might not be the best of the lot. On the flip-side it sometimes brings to light other images that have merit and can be the catalyst to moving your work to a higher level or a different direction.
We all need an honest assessment of our ongoing work and chances to discuss it with others. It helps develop ideas, flesh out existing projects and push our work to be better. Having a photo editor edit a shoot can be one of the most effective ways to move forward as a photographer. The next time you’re thinking about attending a portfolio review and shelling out cash for 20 minutes, look around and see if you can find someone willing to do an edit. You will be surprised how valuable it is.
I dug around and found a nice write up about why photo editors do what they do http://time.com/4839246/photographers-passion/ a brief description of all the skills needed to be a photo editor https://www.mediabistro.com/climb-the-ladder/skills-expertise/what-does-photo-editor-do/ and lastly one link to a freelance photo editor http://www.maryvignoles.com/about-avenue
If you know a good editor our there that wants more work drop a name in the comments. If you’ve had a good experience with one and if helped elevate your game, lets us know.