Wow! Cool! Amazing! Fantastic! Beautiful! Great image! I love it! You can feel the love online — on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Picasa, Instagram, 500pix, BestCamera, and countless other image-sharing services, social networks, blogs, and websites. It feels good to give and receive praise. It can be motivating!
Ask For It
Do you want more love? Ask for it! There’s an implicit request for feedback when you post an image online, where people can comment on what you post. But, when you post images without a request for feedback, the number of responses you get goes down. Without an invitation, people may be hesitant to give you feedback. Or, they may not know how far to go and end up not going far as you’d like them to. So, if you’re looking for feedback when you post your work — ask for it. You’ll find people are quite happy to share their opinions with you.
Be More Specific
Love may not be the only thing you’re looking for. If you’re looking for more than love, there are many ways to find it. The way you ask for feedback can make a big difference in the kind of responses you get and how useful they are. If you don’t make a specific request, the responses you get will be general and unfocussed. Conversely, you can qualify the type of feedback you’re giving someone. State your approach before giving your feedback.
Ways To Give Feedback
There are as many ways to direct the kind of feedback you get as there are ways to give feedback. Here’s a list of eleven different kinds of feedback and ways to ask for it. You can ask the questions of either single images or groups of images. (You can even use this list to easily copy and paste questions when you post images online. Or make your own!) …
Read my full post on The Huffington Post.
Read more related posts on cell phone photography on The Huffington Post.
One of the most valuable aspects of a workshop is getting feedback on your work. You get it from a respected authority. You also get if from diverse participants. The combination of both is powerful. You’ll see your work more clearly, see it through others eyes, and find new ways of looking at your work.
One helpful approach is to ask a lot of questions.
Polls quickly give consensus on key issues. Which image is most memorable? Which image is strongest? Is it a 3, 4, or 5 star image?
How good is an image? First, identify the best thing about it. Then, to rate it, compare it to other images (your best or a respected artist’s) with same strengths.
Compare images. How do different images work together? Find formal echoes. Find thematic consistencies. Find shared stylistic traits. Sometimes, two images paired together are stronger than either one alone.
Identify outliers. Which image doesn’t fit with the others?
What could be done now to make it better? Crop? Adjust color? Dodge and burn?
What could be done in the future to make similar images better? Reframe? Return at a special time? Introduce a new element?
Read more in my Creativity Lessons here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.
How many times have you been frustrated by the feedback you get and give?
Often it’s too simple.
“I like it.”
“I don’t like it.”
But you want more.
If you knew more you could improve more.
So, go further!
Whenever you’re looking at images ask yourself for more with one simple word. “Why?”
You many be surprised how hard it is to put your thoughts and feelings into words.
You’ll find out some really interesting things.
Later, start asking others, “Why?”
You’ll get some really interesting answers.
Check out 12 books I recommend on critical thinking in photography here.
Get feedback in my workshops.
We started my Fine Digital Print Expert workshop today with extensive group portfolio reviews. The reviews are useful for unveiling issues that need resolution and for helping frame how to apply techniques in ways that are appropriate for and sensitive to an individual’s vision (rather than applying technique formulaically, which tends to make everyone’s images look the same). My workshop participants not only get my feedback, and the feedback from other participants, but they also learn a lot of ways to approach looking, commenting on images. The right questions can be just as important as the answers. Sometimes they’re best left open for future revisitation because more can come to light. And activating collective intelligence in group sessions can be very helpful. You get to see when you do and don’t have consensus and many more ideas come to light.
You can’t take a one size fits all approach. You have to take into account the experience level of the person and their artistic goals. Rather than criticism, I prefer to offer useful feedback. The new field of Appreciative Inquiry (born out of the science of qualitative analysis) has a lot to offer when it comes to making valuable statement about quality. It opens dialogs by first identifying core strengths and then discusses how to make them stronger.
How participants present their work alters the type of feedback they get. You can present work without commentary and get spontaneous responses or you can speak about your work and get more focused commentary. You can present your images one at a time (this often highlights singular images, linear progressions of thought, and reveals memorable images – it’s best for more resolved work and when you want comments on broader issues and general thematic concerns) or many all at once (this makes it easier to see more subtle and complex connections between images, either formally or thematically, that might otherwise remain sensed but unseen – it’s best for more specific feedback). One isn’t better than another. They’re just different. The point is it’s important to decide what kind of feedback you’re looking for and to present your work in a way that encourages that type of feedback. Either way, you’ll often be surprised by the feedback you receive. That’s one of the great things about getting feedback from other people. You get exposed to new perspectives on your work.
Here, Claudia Rippee presented two bodies of work – a smaller set sequentially and a larger set contextually. She got very different kinds of feedback. At the end, she discovered that when the viewers understood that the two very different bodies of work were created by one artist that knowledge modified the responses of viewers to both bodies of work. Your images may be seen in reference to other artist’s images, but most importantly your images are seen in reference to all the other images you create.
Whether an individual’s goals are professional or purely personal I emphasize the development of an authentic voice and personally relevant themes. Signature Styles, Singular images and Bodies of Work are all core concepts that I reinforce. You can find out more about these keys to artistic fulfillment in my free Creativity Downloads.
See my PDF Portfolio Reviews and Artist’s palette here.
See my PDF Singular Images and Body of Work here.
Check out my column in AfterCapture magazine to read more.
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Find out about my Fine Digital Print Workshop series here.
Find out about The Fine Digital Print Expert workshop here.