Whether you are a new photographer or a seasoned pro, at one time or another we all are looking for constructive criticism on our work. Maybe we are looking to improve our skills, try out a brand-new technique, or just learn a better way of doing things, being able to get feedback on our work is the only way to know what we may be doing right or wrong.
And while friends and family may be the most convenient source of feedback, they may not be as brutally honest as we need if we truly want to improve. Fortunately there are a few places to turn to when you need unbiased outside appraisal.
Our social media followers are a great place to start when looking for an honest review if we start by disregarding comments from those friends and family member we know are only going to provide positive critiques. Use your extended network to specifically ask for constructive comment (cc) on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or your preferred platform.
Look for groups on Facebook and similar sites that specialize in your area of photography. Subject matter from wildlife, food, fine art, travel, infrared, etc. all have numerous groups of photographers dedicated to that topic. Join the groups that interest you, and then post your work for comment (make sure you read and follow the group rules carefully to avoid being kicked out with your first post).
Look not only at the comments on your work but also on those of other similar works to maximize your learning experience. People take their valuable time to offer feedback so give it all the attention it deserves.
Photo sharing sites
Photo sharing sites like Flickr.com or 500px.com were really built for the purpose of sharing photography and getting feedback from a community. Make sure you specifically ask for constructive criticism when you post a new image – maybe even pointing out the areas that you are specifically looking for feedback in – or you may only get responses like “love it”, “nice work”, “great pic”- which can be quite gratifying but are meaningless if you are looking to improve your skills
I have worked with Dreamstime Stock Photos for over a decade now and cannot overemphasize how much better a photographer I have become thanks to the constructive feedback I have received from administrators and members of the community. I have found it so helpful, I wrote a blog on How to Use the Features of Dreamstime to Gain Positive Criticism. If you are working with other agencies already, look for features on their sites that offer help to contributors.
Contests are another great way to get feedback on your work. While you may not get specific comments spelled out for you, looking at what was accepted/rejected, the comments posted on the open forum boards, and your overall performance in the competitions can provide great feedback on what is and isn’t working. Look for contests that specifically offer portfolio reviews as part of the prizes to win a chance to get a professional, in-depth review. Just be aware that many contests charge a fee which may or may not make it worth your while.
Asking for feedback on our work can be a somewhat daunting endeavor in the beginning, but leveraging some of these sources on a consistent basis can help you learn and grow as a photographer.