How To Ask For Useful Feedback

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Ask For It

Do you want more love? Ask for it! When you share images without a request for feedback, the number of responses you get goes down and their content changes. Without an invitation, people often feel hesitant to give you feedback. If they do, they may not know how far to go and end up not going as far as you’d like them to. So, if you’re looking for feedback when you share 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 unfocused. 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!)
1     Numerical Ratings
Ask, “Please rate this image on a scale of 1-5 (1 is low and 5 is high).”
Optionally, you can ask for numerical ratings on a particular element.
Ask, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how strong is the ___ in this image?”
2     Relative Ranking
Ask, “Please rank these images from strongest (1) to weakest (highest number).”
3     Core Strengths
Ask, “What’s the best thing about this image?”
4     Strengths & Weaknesses
Separate them.
Ask, “What are the strong points of this image?”
Ask, “What are the weak points of this work?”
Or combine them.
Ask, “What are the strengths and weaknesses of these images?”
(It’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) simplified.)
5     Improvements
Ask, “What would you do to improve this image?”
Or, ask, “What would you do to improve future images like this one?”
6     Content / Form / Feeling
Ask, “Please rate the strength of these images in these three categories (on a scale of 1-5); content, form, and feeling.”
7     Identify Themes
Ask, “Please identify any themes you see in these images.”
8     Free Associate
Ask, “When you see this image, what do you think of? Please free associate!”
9     Feeling
Ask, “What emotions do you feel when you look at this image? Don’t hold back!”
10     Uses
Ask, “Please identify possible uses for these images.”
11     Questions `
Ask, “Please list any and all questions you can think of when you look at these images.”
This is just a start. There are many other ways to give and solicit feedback. Make your own list. Use anything from this list, whenever and wherever you please.
Being more specific will greatly increase the value of the feedback you ask for, get, and give. So, don’t just post images and expect feedback. Ask for it! And get specific!
Feedback Is Valuable
Major corporations spend thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to get user feedback on their products. They spend a lot of time refining the questions they ask before they seek for feedback. They know that doing this will make the results they get much more meaningful and valuable. You can get free feedback in your social networks. Imagine if that feedback was not only supportive but also helpful?
Giving Feedback Is A Skill That Can Be Learned
Giving feedback on images is not something that seems easy for many people. For some reason, it seems much easier to give written feedback on something that’s been written. We were taught how to comment on texts in school; it’s a skill set we’ve learned and practiced. Unless you were an art history or a communications major, the chances are high that you weren’t taught how to comment on images; this too is a skill set that can be learned and practiced. (Terry Barrett’s Criticizing Photographs is a good resource.)
Critical or Useful
Sooner or later, we all face the same question, “How do we give useful feedback that is constructive without being negative?” We’ve all learned that criticism can be constructive, but it’s very hard to give it well. Tough love often gets so tough you can’t feel the love anymore. Breaking spirits isn’t useful; helping them grow stronger is. There is an art to giving feedback, one we can all learn and practice. It’s quite likely that if we do this, we’ll become better people and make the world a better place.
The new field of appreciative inquiry has a great deal to offer here. (For a quick primer, read Appreciative Inquiry by David L Cooperrider.) Psychologists use it. Negotiators use it. Businesses use it. We can too. Giving good feedback starts with a good attitude. Start with what’s best about something — instead of what’s worst. This is a totally different attitude than asking “Is it good?”, which is much too general. (Good relative to what? How good? Good in what ways?) Instead try asking, “What’s the best thing about this?” After identifying core strengths, and only after, move to how something can be made even better.
And remember, the current culture for giving and getting feedback online is still developing. And you can be a part of the way it develops by participating. How? Give it. Ask for it. Receive it.

How To Write About Your Images

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Writing an artist’s statement is something I initially resisted. For years I’d heard all of the excuses from many great artists, “Pictures should be seen and not heard.””If I could say with words what I want to say with images, I’d have become a writer.””Those critics got it all wrong.” But, did you ever notice how the people who write about other people’s art always have to address what the artists wrote about their work? Van Gogh’s and Edward Westons’ journals are both excellent examples of this – and worth reading.
I broke down and wrote my first artist’s statement when a gallery insisted they needed one for their exhibit and the response was positive. (A professor at Stanford later asked permission to share it as an example of how to do it well.) I was surprised not only by the positive response to my writing but also by how much I learned about my images while I was writing about them. I knew how to make the work – physically, emotionally, subconsciously –  but did I understand what I had done fully. My conscious mind had some catching up to do … and in the process, I found new ideas. Now I make writing about my images a regular practice. Why? I understand them better. Other people connect with them more. And I find new ideas.
I’ve collected some valuable resources that will help you write about your images.
Start with my free PDF.

9 Ways Of Writing About Your Images

Then move to this collection of quick tips.

6 Tips for Artists on How to Talk about Their Art

4 Tips for Writing a Good Artist Statement

How to Write an Artist Statement

4 Ways to Write an Artist Statement

An Authentic and Easy Artist’s Statement | 10 Powerful Tips

Want even more? Try these three information-packed resources.

What Should An Artist’s Statement Contain?

The Language of an Artist’s Statement

Examples Of Artist’s Statements

There’s even an entire website dedicated to helping you write better artist’s statements.

Artist’s Statement.com – Resources To Help You Write A Good One

It’s easy to make fun of artists statements when they’re done poorly or for the wrong reasons –while you’re doing it just be clear about what makes them funny and you’ll learn a lot while you’re having fun. You can learn a lot about how to write well by looking at examples of bad writing. So, don’t use this to write your artist’s statement, instead, use it to figure out what and how not to write. And don’t forget to laugh along the way.

Artists Statement Generator

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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Plus check out The Complete Guide To Writing Your Amazing Photography About Page

The Creative Fear List

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You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think you have fears. Fear is useful. In certain situations, fear keeps us performing at our peak – it keeps us alive. But, if we let it go too far and panic, fear can kill us, literally or figuratively. This is just as true in our creative lives as it is in our daily lives. In their classic book Art & Fear Ted Orland and David Bayles address fear as a primary force to overcome in the creative process. In her new book Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert starts a list of fears – and then cuts it short. She started a creative exercise we would all benefit from engaging. Ask what fears have us in their grip, identify them, consider them, and start holding them (or not) instead.
Get started with this list of fears.
Does some of what’s on my list sound familiar to you? How can the voice inside your head be so similar to the voice inside my head? Is it really our voice? Is that voice of fear just the mind doing what it does? Is that voice of fear just the mind doing what it has been trained to do? What are the fears we all share? What are your personal fears? Which fears are strongest or most important for you?
This list of fears is incomplete.
Modify and expand this list of fears in any way that’s helpful to you. Get it all off your chest.
Curiously, after making a list, just making a list, most people feel better – freer. Newfound clarity brings more choices.
After you make your list of fears give yourself a break. Later, consider the roots of your fears. Where are they coming from? What foundations do they have? What other thoughts, feelings, and memories are they connected to? Are they changing?
If you consider the roots of your fears, you’re sure to find valuable new personal insights. Don’t judge yourself for what you find. Is judgment useful? Only insight is, if it leads to action. If you do this, you may be better able to choose to change the way you think, feel, and/or act in valuable and significant ways. That’s useful!
Self Worth & Character
You’re afraid you’re not enough.
(Insert a word in this sentence, before “enough.” – good, deep, smart, emotional, significant, important, connected, talented, skilled, trained, educated, political, relevant, funded, supported, hurt, angry, wild, energetic, controlled, disciplined, persistent. serious …)
You’re afraid you’re too …
(Insert a word at the end of this sentence. – intellectual, emotional, insignificant, unimportant, unconnected, trained, educated, political, well-funded, supported, hurt, angry, wild, energetic, controlling, undisciplined, serious, light-hearted … )
You’re afraid that your life hasn’t been painful enough.
You’re afraid that your life has been too hard.
You’re afraid that your life has been too easy.
You’re afraid you’ll have to confront your inner demons.
You’re afraid you don’t have any inner demons.
You’re afraid you may encounter the divine within you.
You’re afraid you won’t encounter the divine within you.
Criticism
You’re afraid you’ll be criticized.
(Replace criticized with any other synonym – ridiculed, mocked, mimicked, embarrassed.)
You’re afraid you’ll lose the approval you’ve already won.
You’re afraid you’ll be called unskilled.
You’re afraid you’ll be called ignorant.
You’re afraid you’ll be called uninspired.
You’re afraid you’ll be called selfish.
You’re afraid other people’s pressures will take the fun out of it for you.
You’re afraid you should feel guilty for having so much fun.
You’re afraid other people will judge you for having so much fun.
You’re afraid that you having so much fun will be take as criticism of others for not having fun.
Significance
You’re afraid what you do won’t matter to anyone.
You’re afraid what you do won’t matter to you.
You’re afraid no one will preserve what you do when you’re gone.
Comparision
You’re afraid that what you do will be compared to something someone else has done.
You’re afraid that what you do won’t be compared to something someone else has done.
You’re afraid that when compared with someone else’s creation your creation will seem less … (Fill in the blank.)
You’re afraid that when compared with your creation someone else’s creation will seem less … (Fill in the blank.)
You’re afraid that when compared with someone else’s creation your creation will seem insignificant.
You’re afraid that when compared with your creation someone else’s creation will seem insignificant.
Money
You’re afraid what you produce won’t sell.
You’re afraid there will be no long-term market for what you produce.
You’re afraid the reward you receive won’t be worth the financial investment you make.
You’re afraid the investment you may now will take away from your family’s future financial success.
You’re afraid you don’t have enough space.
You’re afraid you don’t have the right space.
You’re afraid you don’t have the right tools.
You’re afraid you don’t have enough tools.
Skill
You’re afraid you’re not skilled enough.
You’re afraid skill alone is not enough.
Knowledge
You’re afraid you don’t know enough.
You’re afraid you’ll never know enough.
You’re afraid of what you don’t know.
You’re afraid you don’t know what you don’t know.
You’re afraid you don’t know what really right is.
You’re afraid your right isn’t someone else’s.
You’re afraid your right is someone else’s wrong.
You’re afraid somebody else already did it. (Maybe better.)
You’re afraid somebody will steal you ideas.
Time
You’re afraid you’re too young.
You’re afraid you’re not experienced enough.
You’re afraid you’re too old.
You’re afraid it’s not the right time.
You’re afraid if you do it now, it won’t turn out as good as it could.
You’re afraid that you should have done it long ago and now it won’t turn out as well.
You’re afraid it’s too late to do it really right.
You’re afraid you don’t have enough time.
You’re afraid you don’t know how to use the time you have.
You’re afraid the time you invest will be wasted.
You’re afraid the time you invest won’t be pleasurable.
You’re afraid you’ll give up before it’s over.
You’re afraid you’ll give up before you get started.
You’re afraid you’ll give up after it’s over.
Success
You’re afraid you won’t succeed.
You’re afraid that once you succeed, you’ll never have another success.
You’re afraid your success will make someone else look less.
You’re afraid your success will make someone else’s success look less.
You’re afraid it will bring out the worst in you.
You’re afraid that the worst in you will be the thing most focused on.
You’re afraid the best in you will bring out the worst in others.
You’re afraid success will go to your head.
You’re afraid success will go to other people’s heads.
You’re afraid your new successes will undo your past successes.
You’re afraid your old successes will prevent your new successes.
Sacrifice
You’re afraid you’ll have to give up something.
You’re afraid you’ll have to give someone up.
You’re afraid you’ll have to give up a part of yourself.
You’re afraid what you get won’t equal what you give up.
You’re afraid that the process will change you. (And you don’t know what that change will be.)
Conclusion
And this list continues to grow! Clearly, there’s no end to fear – unless you put a stop to it.
When you say things to yourself, ask yourself, “Would say the same things to anyone else?” If not, why would you say them to yourself? Ask yourself one more very important question. Is it useful to say these things? If so, how and how much and how often? When it’s not useful, stop doing it.
Acknowledging our fears can be quite useful. Pace yourself. You may find it useful to do this in several smaller sessions rather than all at once. Past a certain point, dwelling on fear can become counterproductive. It can keep us from living the lives we want to live. It can be a form of procrastination. Taken too far, catharsis can quickly become reinforcement. Taken to an extreme it can become a matter of fear feeding fear. Don’t feed fear. Look at fear clearly. Learn what you can from fear. And then move forward. Take the steps you need to take to live the life you want. Make the move you need to make to be the person you want to be.
While you can make some pretty good guesses and make some pretty good plans for things to do to ensure things go the way you want them to go and contingency plans for getting things back on track if things don’t go the way you want them to go … The truth is you don’t know what will happen. The truth is you won’t know until you do it.
Creativity is a process of discovery. It’s worth the risk. Dream. Dare. Jump.
Read more on Creativity here.
Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.
View The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos here.

9 Great Books On Haiku Poetry

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Looking for books on great haiku poetry?
Here’s a list of books on haiku that I recommend.
Six on writing and enjoying haiku.
1   Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide by Jane Reichhold
2   Haiku: A Poet’s Guide by Lee Gurga
3   The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku by William J. Higginson
4   The Haiku Seasons by William J. Higginson
5   How to Haiku: A Writer’s Guide to Haiku and Related Forms by Bruce Ross
6   The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield
Three outstanding collections of haiku; two historic and one contemporary.
7   The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets translated by Sam Hamill
8   The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology by Faubion Bowers
9   The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel
Find the books I recommend on haiku here.

Ray Bradbury On Creativity – 3 Videos


Host James Day speaks with Ray Bradbury about his career, the importance of fantasizing, his aspirations as a young child, his dislike of college for a writer, his idea of thinking compared to really living, and his love of the library.

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury regales his audience with stories about his life and love of writing in “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University. Series: Writer’s Symposium By The Sea

Author Ray Bradbury joins Dean Nelson of Point Loma Nazarene University for a talk about his craft as part of Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. Series: “Writer’s Symposium By The Sea”
View more Creativity Videos here.
Read more Creativity Quotes here.

Two Talks On The Creative Process At TEDx & Google

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My TED and Google talks have a lot in common. Both discuss creativity as a dynamic process that we all engage in with our own unique orientations to. While there are classic operations we all perform, how we combine them and the uses we put them to. Experimentation and becoming more versatile is the key to turbo-charging your creative life. You’ll find dozens of tips and lots of inspiration in both of these talks.

Preview my eBook Process here.

Read more in my free creativity resources.

Learn more in my creativity workshops.

New eBook – Process


How artists get there is just as important as where they arrive. My new ebook Process examines many aspects of my creative process – writing, drawing, painting, photography, Photoshop, iphoneography and more. Thirty-three chapters are organized into five sections – Color, Composition, Draw, iPhone, Write – showing how each discipline contributes to the completion of finished works of art.
This ebook reveals that an artist’s creations are produced by not one but many activities in many media and that the creative process is a never-ending journey of discovery that offers surprising insights along the way.
192 pages fully illustrated
$12.99
$9.99 for Insights enews members
(Email info@johnpaulcaponigro.com for discount code.)
Buy the PDF here
Download a free preview here.