A Better Approach to Ask for Critiques and Improve your Photography

A Better Approach to Ask for Critiques and Improve your Photography

Everybody will someday ask for the famous C&C (critique and/or comments), or has seen it when navigating the Internet on photography-related groups.

Critiques might be very helpful to develop other skills or to improve your photos. Or they can be helpful for future ones as well, because they provide another angle of view or techniques that can be applied later.

But, just putting "C&C are welcome" when posting the photo is not that helpful, because there is no direction on what to give critique on. So when people starting commenting, most of their feedback will be related to their personal preferences or what they like the most, and it might end up not being helpful at all for you to improve your photography.

If you want some helpful advice, you also should help people to understand what kind of critiques you want or what you want to improve in your photos by giving people some direction. Look at your image, and be the first person to criticize it. And then, let's say that you want to improve the poses of the people you photograph, the lighting in your photos, or the post-processing. People will be able to give you more specific direction (or even links to videos or articles) that will really help you improve on the subject and more quickly since they'll know what you want to focus on.

This way, you can benefit from really helpful tips and hopefully, improve your photography.

Lead image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.

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10 Comments

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

"only positive critiques and comments, please."

Alexandre Watanabe's picture

Yeah, most of the times it's just like that, but only positive feedbacks doesn't help much, just inflates the ego of the person, of course rude comments without context doesn't help either. But a negative feedback with good info on what makes it negative can help more that a compliment (at least is what I think).

Simon Patterson's picture

I'd rather see constructive critique, rather than positive or negative comments.

The best critiques I've seen usually start with what is liked about the image or how it successfully achieves the creator's aims, then what could be changed (including why and how), then concludes with something positive about the potential of the image or idea.

Of course, this is done after reading the creator's own vision or aims for the image first.

Przemek Lodej's picture

What's absolutely funny is that F-Stoppers, which tries to project itself as a professional community for photographers and videographers, posts this article yet it does absolutely nothing to make critiquing of member work an actual thing. The whole rating system is an utter joke. I'm gonna give you two stars, deal with it. No comment, no actual constructive opinion is required. I can get plenty more positive or negative criticism from a passerby than from 95% of users here. I've been a member here for over a year and I have noticed that there is a significant number of members that will rate photos low simply because. No reason given, no comment, nothing. I don't really care, because I care a lot more about what the people I shoot photos for think, but it's an indication of the mentality of people these days. Hate for the sake of hating. Quite sad.

"If you want some helpful advice, you also should help people to understand what kind of critiques you want or what you want to improve in your photos by giving people some direction." - I would say that anyone can tell you what they do or do not like about a photo and you don't have to tell what kind of critique you are looking for. That is just from my experience.

Alexandre Watanabe's picture

About the rating system, I can see your point (but can't change it, since I'm not responsible for it or have any power to do that either, it would be nice some field where people could input critiques, or when posting, has an option to allow it). People will eventually comment what they want, especially if it's not given any direction on what to critique for... I didn't said that they can't do it. Just suggesting this way, because at least for me, it was more helpful than just put "C&C welcome" or whatever.

I love C&C for others and mine. but my English is not good and I think it's a critical problem for me and others that their language is not English.

Alexandre Watanabe's picture

Language is not a huge issue nowadays, since there are translators out there, and you can always point out later that you don't speak natively english (english it's not my native language aswell, my native language is portuguese).

Geoff Thompson's picture

Thanks Alexandre you make some good points.Possibly on fstoppers when we ask for critique of an image we post it with the appropriate group that purports to deal with that subject .The one I have been active on lately is a broad canvas, that is Landscape and Nature. When you ask for cc there you may get lots of technical advice which can be found more specifically in another group.Every one usually means well but we all have our own favourite techniques we want to share.This is not meant as a criticism of the group. That's interesting!

Jordan McChesney's picture

I think the groups here are pretty good for getting feedback without a rating system needed. I find myself spending more and more time in the landscape and long exposure groups than I do rating photos on the community page. Heck, I've pretty much abandoned Instagram because I find the community here much more... human. I'm grateful for the community Fstoppers had helped me interact with.

When it comes to CC, I always think it's important to separate concrete constructive criticism from personal opinions. Of course, both are always welcome within reason, but when someone states their personal preference (like or dislike) or opinions as facts, it's a little annoying. Also, statements like "X photography is a cliche" or "too many people shoot X" always strikes me as lazy pseudo-criticism (this includes things like "I've seen this location too many times" --- that's not a critique, it's a statement about your personal experiences). I always try to be very clear when I'm giving an opinion by clearly stating "this is just my opinion" or "...but that's just what I think" vs concrete CC which would be things like straighten your horizons or raise the shadows. Furthermore, constructive criticism should be just that constructive, meaning the intent should be to help build the photographer's skill, not tear down their work. I've gotten some good constructive feedback here for the most part, so I recommend anyone here join an active group on the site.

I like the idea of doing a kind of self-CC. I often do this with my photos. I'll process them, leave them for a few days, then come back and see if I notice anything with fresh eyes or just completely hate the edits I made. I think it's a good idea for people to come back and revise their own work with fresh eyes.

David Pavlich's picture

One thing that needs to be mentioned is that when asking for an analysis of your images, you have to have a somewhat thick skin and not take comments personally. If receiving a review of a shot that you thought was pretty good, but doesn't garner the response you expected and that bothers you, you probably shouldn't ask for a review.

I do a fair amount of tone mapped HDR stuff and I know what kind of reactions I'm going to get from some. Heck, I get some rather unflattering comments when I don't ask for a review. :-) But you have to let just roll off your back. Besides, I sell my prints and find that there's a pretty decent market for tone mapped stuff like engine blocks and machine shop stuff like lathes. So, in the end, a shot that someone gave me low marks on ends up hanging in some guy's garage or office because it happens to reflect what he does or what he likes and I made a little money to keep me in ink and print paper. :-)