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Help Others Grow Through Constructive Critiques

By Anthony Thurston on May 10th 2013

A while back I detailed how it is important to grow your photography by putting your work out there and genuinely listening to constructive critiques. This time I wanted to detail how you can help other photographers grow by GIVING constructive critiques.

We have all been there, You post an image and either get no comments or a bunch of “I like It” or “Great Work!” type comments. Sure these are great for self-esteem, but don’t do much in the way of helping you improve your work. I want to talk to you today about giving better critiques, how to be honest about a photo without being mean, and most importantly how to grow your own skills by critiquing other work.


Giving a Good Critique

Giving a good critique does not mean that you need to spend hours analyzing an image nor does your critique need to be more than a paragraph or two. The best thing that you can do when giving a critique is to be honest, if you like it great! Tell them why you like it. If you don’t like it tell them what about it does not float your boat. If you are on the fence tell them what you like and what you don’t.

It’s really not any more complicated than that; at least it doesn’t have to be. Here is an example of a bad critique, and then followed by a “good” critique:

“Great work! I love the lighting”

“Good work here John, I really love how the light is hitting her face. One thing though is the light has cause some flyaway hairs to be extremely noticeable on her left side. Clean those up and you have yourself a great image!”

See the difference? In the first critique the author just gives positive comments, but nothing helpful to the photographer. In the second critique the author still gave very positive comments, but also gave some feedback as to something that can be done to improve that image further.


Grow your own skills through critiquing others

It may seem odd that critiquing other can help you grow your own photographic skills, but it is true. I say this because if you take a few minutes to help someone else out by taking a look at their work you will have spent that time analyzing what makes a good or bad photograph. You will start to pick up on things that work and don’t work, you will be able to remember seeing things that you liked and remember to avoid things that you did not like.

The other added benefit is that the more people are out there giving good solid critiques the more chance there is that someone will give you a good critique when you are putting your work out there.

A great place to go is our own SLR Lounge forums, we have a growing constructive critique forum that is just full of people needing good solid critiques. So go out and spend a few minutes each day giving some of your thoughts to people who need it.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Lee Sadler

    Great article, Anthony. I wholeheartedly agree with this and I’m glad you wrote it. I started in photography just a year ago (this month is my 1 year anniversary), and it’s critiques here and elsewhere that have helped me grow so much. I still have a tremendous amount to learn, and that’s why I’m sticking around. :)

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  2. Evan Griffiths

    Critique and accepting & learning from critique was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. SO important if you want to grow as an artist or as an individual in general. Many sites such as “Model Mayhem” will actually ban users if their comments aren’t “positive”…. and I think it gives many people a misguided reality.

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  3. Charlene

    Great article. I could have used this a few days ago for a critique I gave. The woman thought I was “attacking” her and I replied constructive criticism is the only way to grow. She still didn’t get it but some day will. I could have posted this in the group but since my comments were deleted I felt that my helping her wasn’t appreciated so I left the group. some people just aren’t mature enough to understand or handle cc.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Some people just aren’t in the correct state of mind to read a good critique. But what is important is that you gave them one, so later when they are not to attached they can see that critique and learn from it. (Obviously not it your case sine they deleted the comments.)

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