Many photo sharing sites include a way for viewers of your images to leave comments on your posts. If you post your photos on your blog you may also get useful feedback. But getting constructive critiques of your work requires some effort.
So the point of this article is to share a few useful groups and tips for getting constructive feedback on your images. These resources are limited to my experience and research on the photo sharing site, Flickr.com, so please share ones you have found useful.
By far the best place to get constructive feedback that I know of are in Flickr.com groups. When you become a member of Flickr and post lots of photos on a regular basis, you eventually start to build a large friend’s base that will typically provide positive feedback on images posted in your photostream. Typical comments include, “Nice shot,” “lovely capture,” “excellent,” “very well done.”
While these comments are great – I sure appreciate getting them – they’re not constructive feedback. To have your photos critiqued on Flickr, you need to join and participate in several dedicated critical feedback groups. Here’s a few I know of:
The Flickr group, Critique, is one of the most popular and general critique groups I discovered. It has 7,000 members and over 8,000 discussion threads. After joining the group, you simply start a discussion thread with your selected photo and request feedback. Here’s an example.
The type of photos and topics posted in discussion threads are varied. Members give feedback on lighting techniques, photo composition, macro shots, depth of field, exposure techniques, etc. While some photos receive as many as ten comments, others may only receive one or two, but all feedback seems generally supportive.
This group has a little over 1,100 members and about the same amount of discussion threads. It’s open to both amateur and professional photographers.
The rules for the group are simple: post one, critique one. When you provide good constructive feedback to members’ photos, you will gradually build a stronger, trusting friends base that will likewise provide you with the feedback you’re seeking.
If you take a look at the photo pool of Truly Constructive Criticism you will see that members are not generally posting their best work. They’re posting photos for which they truly want real critiques, not images that have already received lots of variable feedback in their photostream.
This group has nearly 3,500 members, with 1,747 discussion threads. You don’t have to be a photo expert to join this group. It’s works like Truly Constructive, requiring you to provide as much critique as you receive.
As with other groups, discussion threads typically start out like this: “I am a new member of Flickr and I’ve just started taking some portraits. What do you think of my shots? If you could give me advice or comments, it would help me a lot.”
Sometimes however, it’s useful to request specific feedback on a photo. You might ask members to critique the composition, lighting, or the post processing of photos. You should let them know what you were trying to achieve by taking the photo, and if they think you accomplished your goal.
Portfolio Pro Critique is a more advanced critique group with over 1,600 members and almost 800 discussion threads. The photos in this group typically are more advanced or professional than what exists in the other groups. However, the group is not limited to professional photographers.
The posting and critiquing of photos is more structured for this group. When you post an image to the pool, members use a well designed Portfolio Pro Critique Template. The feedback on the template is converted to HTML code which can be pasted into the comment field of the photo being critiqued. The template itself helps generate very thoughtful critique.
Portfolio Pro also includes great weekly photo contests and challenges, and it’s also in the process of producing a book based on selections from its membership. If you’re serious about great photography, this group is well worth checking out.
- When posting a photo for critique, it’s a good idea to ask for specific feedback, instead of asking, “What do you think?” Instead, you might ask about the framing of the shot, the use of external lighting, the post processing, or how well the subject was captured.
- Likewise when critiquing a photo, be as specific as possible in your feedback. Start off with something positive to say about the image, and then critique how the image could have been shot better. Always try to provide suggestions for improvements.
- You might consider posting two or more versions of a photo and asking members which one is the best and why.
- Provide more critiques than you receive. Members are more trusting of you if they see you are an active member of the group, rather than someone who only shows up when you want feedback.
Do you find getting constructive feedback on your photos is helpful to you as a photographer? What websites or other resources do you use to get your photos critiqued? If you want to learn more about digital photography, check out these MUO articles, and also download my MUO Guide to Digital Photography.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com