Wow — we are getting just wonderful feedback from this episode, and we’re now going to be making these blind critiques a regular feature each month. It’s only our second one, and we’ll continue to tweak the process and hopefully improve in our delivery and advice each time.

I saw a comment yesterday from a viewer on Google+ (+Amy Johnson) and she so gets it. She wrote:

“Thanks so much for another great episode this week! Never new that watching critiques of other peoples’ photos could be so educational!”

Matt and I do these blind critiques with our class at our hands-on workshops, and invariably we read in our workshop evaluations that it was one of the most valuable learning experiences of the entire week.

I posted the full episode here, and I’ll do a post here next month before we do the next one so you guys will have a chance to submit some images for consideration. Thanks to everyone who participated in our show this week. :)

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

19 Comments

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to have our work realistically critiqued.  We live in a world where too many people are afraid to be honest and give constructive criticism.  You cannot be a great photographer w/o having a thick skin… it’s one of the best ways to get better and work harder.

  2. I would leave a comment gut I’ll be up all night playing with my new D4, man I can bracket 1,2 or 3 stops at a time now!! :)

  3. Maybe a dumb question but how do you pick the images? If I wanted my photos critiqued by you guys, how do I send them?

  4. Love this. It really helped me to see what I was doing wrong. I learn from mistakes. Thanks.

  5. Agreed!  The addition of the critiques have been great!  What I particularly enjoy is watching what you do in Camera Raw to make the photo a little better.   It really helps us to see what to do next time!  

  6. Scott, I caught the last 15 minutes of this broadcast, and it was really helpful.  Both you and Matt pulled no punches in your critiques (not too many “hugs”!).  Probably the best thing for a photographer is an honest assessment of their work!  I’ll make the time to sit down and watch the rest ASAP.  Great decision to make this part of the show each month.

    Thanks!

    –John

  7. Awesome as usual. You guys are great. I’m looking forward to your next visit to Chicago.

  8. Critique is a fine art – an agreement between two people. On the one hand, the photographer agrees to
    submit their work for review with an open mind, ready to accept and learn from
    the input provided, whether it is positive or negative. On the other hand, the
    goal of critique is to educate and mentor – to point out how to improve, what
    is working, what is not working with concrete examples of how that can be accomplished.

    When your show concentrated on specific suggestions – how a crop would have dramatically improved
    composition; how darkening the background or foreground would tighten focus on
    the subject etc. you fulfilled your end of the bargain and I found the
    suggestions extremely helpful.

    It is true – we need to have tough skins as artists in order to improve our images. Like many photographers, I grow tired of the “Nice shot!” syndrome of Flickr, where meaningful input is
    sorely lacking. The opportunity you provide to offer portfolio review is a valuable service.

    But in your role as an educator, I was appalled at your lack of empathy and cruel and unnecessary editorial comments, finding it extremely unprofessional.  

    For example, the photo of the cat. Instead of using this as an opportunity to point out why this wasn’t a
    good photo of a cat in artistic design terms, you chose to ridicule the subject matter, and by extension the photographer. You offered no comments of any value that the photographer could use to improve their photography. If you found no redeeming value whatsoever in the work, why did you feature it? None of us watching learned anything from your snide and hurtful comments.

    Personally, I don’t take photos of cats. But I also have no interest in sports photography. That doesn’t
    give me the right to discount you and your work simply because the subject is of no interest to me.

    In my view, you owe several of the photographers apologies for not holding up your end of the
    bargain; for going for cheap laughs instead of offering thoughtful and useful (and yes, tough) comments  about the submitted work.

    If your goal is to educate, then take education seriously. Offered in the best spirit of critique.

  9. Please continue harsh critiques of inappropriate subject matter (like cats, railroad tracks, dead trees). Cats are a more accessible subject matter than professional football (re: previous comment) and demand less (shutter speed, position/access to field, lighting) from the photographer to be captured. I’ve never seen a professional photographer display a cat picture in their portfolio. It is supply and demand to me. I like being challenged to work harder at coming up with unique and inspiring subject matter, captured in the best light, and processed in a way that enhances the point of the image. Thanks!

    • Not everyone wants to be a professional photographer, with a professionally-appropriate portfolio (i.e., “no cats”). That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve basic courtesy.

      If those are the “rules” for this blind critique process, then that should be explained up front and subject matter deemed unworthy of review should be spelled out. Warning: I will make fun of you if you include a photo of a cat, railroad tracks or dead trees.

      I too want to be challenged. I want to improve. I want to learn how to be better. Spending time denigrating the work of others teaches me nothing. 

      (And no, I have never taken a photo of a cat. I will admit to a couple of railroad tracks.)

  10. I really liked it when you were critiquing the photos that were “good” but not great. That is where I learned the most amount of information about the minor things happening in a photo that were holding it back. Good to see how minor things such as bright spots in the photos, border issues, trees sticking out, etc adversely affect many of the good photos.  

    I almost stopped watching right at the beginning when you started off with some pretty weak portfolios since they were fairly bad. Even though I understand that you need to have a mix of photos for such a large and diverse audience as yours, having fewer reviews on the bad portfolios and focusing on the photos that are on the verge of being really good I would learn so much more! 

  11. Scott,

    Have you seen 1x.com?  This site has unbelievable landscape photos from photographers all over the world.  Many look like Thomas Kinkaid paintings.  Do you think they are just lucky or is there some magic Photoshop plug-in out there I’m not aware of?

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