I have been thinking lately about how important it has been for me to have my images critiqued by other photographers, especially the ones whose work i admire. Getting constructive feedback is a critical habit that, unfortunately, many newbie photogs out there seem to ignore or just don’t know any better. I can’t count how many times over the years I have worked very hard tweaking and enhancing an image in Photoshop until I think I’ve got it just right. After uploading a jpg copy of it to the web, I soon discovered that that image which I thought was so exceptional barely got any positive reaction at all. In my head I started hearing those all too familiar “crickets” in the night – you know, when something supposedly great turns out to be completely uninteresting, even downright boring. It happens to all of us – that is – if we are submitting our work on a regular basis for all the world to see. Two of the best websites out there which I recommend to all serious photographers are: 1x.com, and 500px.com. Of the two, for true and constructive critiques 1x.com is hands down the best. There are some amazingly gifted photographers who are there to give you their honest, unbiased evaluation on your images. Believe me, you will benefit from their very helpful and insightful advice.
500px is good for mostly voting and comments from not only other photogs, but the general public as well. only the very best will rise to the top through the voting system. It can be a bit of a shock to realize that an image that you absolutely love is not that well received by the rest of the world at large. It makes you step back and look more closely at it to try to discover what is lacking in the image – maybe the composition is a little off, or there is some distracting background element that is throwing people off, or a combination of several different things that you may have missed initially in your zeal to finish and publish your work to the web. This is all too painfully obvious if you browse through some of the images in the “Fresh” category on 500px.com – these are the newest uploaded images that have been recently submitted for votes. As people vote on any image, it will be recorded and a numerical rating will be added to the image. 0% means no votes, 100% is the highest reachable rating. A good percentage of images in the “fresh” category never migrate any further because they never got enough votes to move them upwards. If you look at some of those “unvoted” images, you can begin to see some of the many varied reasons why they didn’t make it. I have uploaded more than 100 images to 500px in the last year or so, and had many voted up, and just as many, maybe more, that kind of just languished in the bottom. It’s been a learning experience – to be sure. It’s helped make me a better photographer because I am now much more keenly aware of what makes an image exceptional, rather just acceptable. Now, when I look back at some of my earlier work I cringe at the thought that I actually thought some of those images were so great. (Yes, there were some good ones, but not nearly as many as I thought were good back then at the time).
So, to close out this brief blog, I guess I just wanted to say to newbies and maybe some of you who have been shooting for a while now, don’t underestimate the value of other people’s opinions about your work. In my experience, getting constant quality critiques from other photogs both amateur and pro has been an invaluable asset to my growth and success as a photographer.
This photo is one of my most voted images on 500px.com.