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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

June 30, 2017

As anyone working in a creative field like photography will know, you’re bound to receive criticism about your work from time to time – whether it’s warranted or not.

We understand it can be easy to become disheartened or even angry about such remarks, however some photographers are choosing to take a more positive approach to criticism about their images.

In this article, we’ll be teaching you the best methods to deal with criticism as a photographer – and trust us, they actually work!

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

Take a Moment to Listen

Whether the delivery is aggressive, offensive, or even said to you in the nicest, most constructive way, your first instinct when you receive criticism might be to stop listening. After all, it’s hard hearing things you don’t like to hear, especially when it’s about something as personal and significant to you as your hard work.

Next time someone takes the critical approach to your work, try to take the moment to simply listen. Engage them with eye contact and absorb as much information as possible. It might seem awkward or annoying, but this is the part where you have a decision to make: you can either use it as an experience to learn from, or a missed opportunity for growth. What will you choose?

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

Bullying or Constructive Criticism?

When you do receive criticism from another person (or group of people, which can sometimes happen via social media or forums), it’s important for you to determine if the comments are constructive (i.e. ‘this photo would have been more effective if shot from a different angle’) or just downright bullying (such as “your work sucks”).

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is usually how the comment(s) make you feel. On a scale of one to ten, how much does the remark offend you?

Another simple way to sort constructive criticism from bullying is this: constructive criticism will usually offer a solution or idea as to how you could improve your work. Alternatively, bullying will often be an insulting or offensive comment (such as the example we used above).

We know what you’re thinking though: if you’re actually being bullied, where do you go from there?

Our solutions:

  • Respond in a professional manner stating that while constructive feedback is welcome, insulting comments aren’t necessary, nor are they appreciated.
  • If the comment is particularly offensive (or even if it makes a personal attack), then simply block and delete the person if you’re able to. Feel free to delete the comment too so you don’t have to encounter it again.
  • Lastly, try to put the unpleasant experience out of your mind. Read over your testimonials or more positive feedback and soak up those good vibes. Don’t let a bully dishearten you or make you feel like you’re not good enough as a photographer.

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

Put Your Emotions Aside

Want to know the biggest trick to handling criticism about your work? Tell yourself it’s not personal, again and again. Just because someone tells you your location doesn’t do your subject justice doesn’t mean they’re saying you’re a bad person. It also doesn’t mean that they dislike your personality or appearance.

Taking the emotion out of critical remarks also allows you to potentially see the issue from their point of view. Creativity is all about collaboration and sometimes this collaborative experience takes on different forms – with constructive and honest conversations being one of them.

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

Grow from There

This is where honesty comes into play. When you receive criticism about your work, try and find some quiet time to reflect on what was said. Now, be truthful with yourself: could you have changed something to produce better results? If you could re-do this image or photo shoot, what would you do differently? Remember, photography is often about experimenting to create even more amazing images, so these brainstorm sessions will be incredibly beneficial to you.

Many photographers also choose to submit their work to certain platforms or forums in order to receive constructive criticism about their work, proving just how educational and helpful this experience can be (even more so if it comes from a well-respected and successful photographer or someone else working within a creative industry!).

Criticism can suck, but if the remarks are actually constructive, then you should view them as vital feedback to help you produce better work and therefore grow as a photographer.

How to Deal with Criticism as a Photographer

Get a (Trusted) Second Opinion

For those of you who want to take on board a critical remark about your work but aren’t too sure you understand or can agree with what was said, then why not seek a second opinion from a trusted source?

Ask a friend or loved one who is knowledgeable about photography and see what they have to say about the issue. Remember, while everyone is entitled to an opinion, it doesn’t mean their opinion is always right.

There you have it – our simple tricks to help you deal with criticism as a photographer! Will you be putting any of these tips into action?

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