“This is hard. It requires humility. It may require deep breathing. But if you master receiving critique, you’ll grow faster than you ever have before. It can be a rocky climb at times, but here are a few places to start,” writes Jenika at the blog Psychology for Photographers.
Indeed, her advice is priceless for photographers who are ready to bite the bullet and stare into the face of honesty.
1. Seek critique early and often
You’ll make faster progress if you have someone around to tell you when something isn’t right early on in a project, rather than right around the stages of completion. It may seem intimidating and you may feel that it could distract from your concentration on your work, but the faster you’re able to fix something, the less repair may be required down the road.
Consider the help that comes with a critique to be a shortcut.
If you master the art of receiving feedback, and graciously accept it from all sources, the end result is better pictures, less stress, and more joy.
2. Doing something incorrectly does not make you a bad photographer
What often keeps people from seeking critiques is pride. As humans, we’re horribly afraid of bruising our egos, but as Jenika says, it comes down to a matter of degree. Criticism is not a reflection of how a critic feels about you, it’s about how they feel about your work. Learning how to distinguish the two will help prepare you to receive criticism and take the sting out of a harsh comment.
Assuming that you trust your critic, accept that they are trying to help you become better at something. If you were completely hopeless they wouldn’t bother.
3. Agreeing with the other person will stop an argument in its tracks
Saying yes when your mind is saying no does not mean you’re conceding. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up or that you’re week. It means you’re looking to delve deeper without sparking a conversational war.
Instead of arguing with someone who makes a point about your work that you don’t agree with, agree with them – and then ask what they would do differently. This will get them thinking and should get you the honest answer your work deserves. This tactic shows that you’re eager to grow.
4. Start small if you feel threatened
The instinct of most artists is to put their best work up for critique. They feel that as their best work, it demonstrates what they can do with their skill set. This makes sense, but it also leaves you more vulnerable because you’re so attached to your best.
For your first critique, consider putting up a piece that you know could be better, but you’re not sure how to improve it. You’ll glean more from the experience and your pride won’t be as bruised when you’re prepared to acknowledge imperfection.
Doing this a few times will lower your defenses and get you more used to how critiques work.
5. Have a positive attitude; show your gratitude
As Jenika puts it:
Acknowledge their gift of time.
Around internet forums and other communities for artists, like Talenthouse, it’s clear how open many of your colleagues are willing to take a few minutes out of their day to post advice. Even if it’s something that didn’t end up helping you or was repetitive, put on a positive attitude and be sure to thank them for their help.
- Read the rest at Psychology for Photographers.
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