Let’s Get Critical
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Let’s Get Critical

Let’s Get Critical

Assignment S32

Critique-proper critique-is essential to our growth as photographers, but it can be hard to find. Put an “average” image on social media and the chances are it will be heralded with comments such as “awesome capture;’ “outstanding;’ or “just wow!!” But why? It’s an average image. 

When it comes to street photography, that’s one of the problems with posting images in the public domain: you’ll be awash with compliments and positivity, but constructive feedback will be sadly lacking. In order to raise your game you need frank, constructive, and friendly critique. 

With that in mind, your mission here is to set up a small critique circle of between four and eight street photographers. Aim to meet regularly (say once a month) in a quiet corner of a cafe or bar to critique each other’s work. Depending on how many people you have, bring two or three prints to each group discussion. 

These sessions will work best if there’s some structure, probably in the form of a rating system. You could, for example, agree to rate images against the following criteria: initial impact; concept/interpretation; creativity; light; composition. Give a maximum of 20 points in each category, so there’s a total of 1 00 points available, but remember that it is the comments and feedback, rather than the “score” that will have most value. Improvement is almost always based on the reactions of others after they have viewed-and carefully considered-the work. 

View the images

Technique

  • Six people is a great number for a critique circle; eight should be your maximum. 
  • Encourage participants to bring prints, as they are much nicer to look at and can be passed around the group. However, accept that they may bring images on a tablet or laptop instead.
  • If you’re a member of a camera club you could form an informal sub-group.

Field Notes

  • However poor you think an image is, there’s usually something positive to say about it! 
  • Always finish the session on a positive note, leaving the photographer with a sense of hope and encouragement.
  • Try to find a quiet venue with minimal background noise.