More considerations for critique

A great place to start is to find the things that you like.  The positive things.  Things that are supportive, encouraging, and reassuring.  Even if it’s a little thing, find positivity.

Then talk about the things that might need to be discussed for improvement, further development.  Or anything else that might need to be figured out for the advancing of the artist.  Don’t overwhelm the person.  If need be, limit yourself to a few main points.

Then to wrap it up, always finish the discussion on a positive note.  Whether that’s improvements that you’ve observed, or a positive goal that you’ve settled on.  Whatever it is, you don’t want to brow beat the person into the abyss of creative failure.  Rather you want to encourage them up their unique creative mountain to find personal achievements and freedom.

Try turning negatives into positives.  For example, rather than saying “you have this branch coming out of nowhere, why would you take this picture” (that’s a real line someone used at a critique meeting one night).  Turn it around and say, “wouldn’t this look better without this branch here?”  Or perhaps better yet, ask them “do you think this would look better without this branch coming in from the side of the frame?”  If you can enable the person to identify their mistakes it will be better received.

Don’t attack the person.  And I mean don’t attack the person.  We’re critiquing art, not people, it’s not personal.  Make sure you focus on their work, not their person.  Don’t allow your personal feeling about someone cloud your objectivity.  Keep to the plan.  And always be sympathetic and understanding.  My mother always told me you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Be specific with what you are trying to communicate.  If everyone played by the guidelines here, they asked for specifics, and that’s what you should address.  Look for things that the person can engage with.  Offer actionable suggestions, steps to lead toward what you see needs improvement.  Talk about possible goals that will aide in their improvement.  Something to look for in the next efforts.  This will give a good direction and help establish achievable, and attainable results.

When setting goals and in all interactions with others take their ability into consideration.  We’re not all at the same place.  And we all have a tendency to compare our work to what other folks are posting and sharing; especially online.  This tends to be their best, the best of their best. While we’re looking at the 100 attempts it took for us to get that one image, if we got it.  That shot that we envision in our creative minds eye.  More often than not, we don’t stop to think that someone probably took 100 of their own efforts to get that one you’re comparing to.

Always keep it in mind that this is your photography, your art, what you envision.  It should be fun, inspirational and something you look forward to.  Embrace the process and it always will be.