One of the best ways to improve your photography skills is to gather genuine feedback from people who know what they’re talking about. These eight sites are where you can do just that.
Having the most expensive piece of kit is no guarantee for taking good photographs. For that, you need a photographer’s eye, some technical skill, advice that can up your game, and practice.
It’s finding that all-important critical advice and feedback (some may call it smart feedback) that we’re focusing on here. Without advice from people who understand photography better than yourself, you’re locking yourself under a glass ceiling. You need access to individuals who can look at your photos and tell you honestly what you’re doing right, and what you’re getting wrong.
Luckily, the web has a few amazing places where you can gather critiques from people who truly know what they’re talking about (and some who don’t). What’s better: on the following websites, that feedback is completely free of charge.
With over 37,000 readers, r/PhotoCritique is one of the most well populated places to gather feedback on your photos. it’s so popular, in fact, that we’ve written a piece explaining exactly how to get the most out of /r/PhotoCritique.
As is always the case with Reddit though, some of the comments can come off as pretty harsh, but that’s all in your interest to grow as a photographer. To get the best feedback here, upload a quality version of your photo, and include EXIF data in your post. As a minimum this should include shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.
Not all photos posted to 1X get much of a critique, but if you have a truly interesting image, you’ll receive a ton of valuable feedback. Take a look at some of their popular photos to see what I mean.
Each photo on the site is of a high standard by default. This is thanks to 1X’s approval process. Once your photo is live, other users — including many professional photographers — will tell you exactly what they like and dislike about your work.
Digital Photography School
Digital Photography School’s main site offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone wanting to improve their photography. Additionally, their forums house almost 300,000 enthusiasts, just waiting to offer you help and guidance.
Within the forum, you’ll find a host of sub-forums tailored specifically for requesting photo critiques. These range from landscape critiques, to macro critiques, and comparison critiques. The feedback you can receive in these forums is often highly in depth, and as technical as you can handle.
If you need more immediate feedback, try posting your photos to the Stack Exchange chat room. If the right users are online at the time you post, you can receive some fantastic tips. As this is a chat room (not a forum), you can instantly follow up with questions to dig deeper, in real time.
By scrolling through the chat history there, you can find some incredible discussions, with professionals sharing their best-kept secrets with amateurs in response to a photo being posted.
Flickr’s critique forum has around 15,000 members, with almost 5,000 photos being posted for critique.
The feedback posted tends to be thorough, and well thought out. Photographers are often asked to post modified versions of their photos based on the feedback given, too. There’s definitely a lot to be learned here. Flickr also has a selection of great photography groups that you may find useful to join.
Professional Photo Critique
By submitting your photo to Professional Photo Critique, an experienced critic could cast a discerning eye over your work. This is open to you whether you’re an amateur, student, or professional.
The objective feedback received will incorporate both the positives and negatives of your photo, with the aim being to have a “conversation about your work”. You’ll also learn a ton by reading previous critiques that have been posted to the site. Find out how to submit your photo here.
Each month, KelbyTV publishes an episode of The Grid (watch on iTunes) focusing on offering blind critiques to submitted photos. Not all submitted photos have the chance of being featured, but if yours is, the standard of feedback is phenomenal. You’re not even required to submit your name, so there’s no chance of being embarrassed if your photos suck.
There are a few submission guidelines, though that’s all standard stuff.
The critique section of the FredMiranda forums is a popular place to gather some genuine opinions on your work, and advice on how to improve.
Take this photo of a waterfall. The photographer is given useful advice on improving exposure, where to place the horizon, introducing shadows etc. all in the name of free guidance.
When It’s Your Turn to Critique
Once you’ve grown enough as a photographer due to the advice you’ve received, you’ll be in a position to dish out advice yourself.
When this time comes, there are a few things to bear in mind.
A critique is not an opinion. A critique should focus on the objective qualities of a photograph. If something has objectively not worked out, such as lack of focus, you should be offering definite remedies. If they’ve gone too far with their photo-editing program, be specific. You should also explain why it happened in the first place, keeping in mind the context in which the photo was taken.
That being said, you should offer your advice with the photographer in mind. If they are a seasoned photographer, go ahead with offering the most techy advice you have. If they’re a beginner, however, help them to master the fundamentals of photography first.
Overall, keep your critiques constructive. If it’s too negative, it’ll turn the photographer away from photography. If it’s too positive, it’s not really a critique, and doesn’t help the photographer improve.
Which other sites do you go to for advice on your photos? Do you find having your photos critiqued useful? And which are the most valuable kind of critiques for you?
Image Credits:People in Meeting by Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock