This past Wednesday was our monthly “Blind Photo Critiques” episode of ‘The Grid” where we ask our viewers to send in 3 or 4 of their images and give an honest critique (which is why we don’t ask for their names, we don’t say who took the shots so we can give an honest critique without publicly embarrassing anyone).
These Blind Photo Critiques are really popular because we try to use these critiques as learning tools for all our viewers (not just the person whose images get critiqued), but I gotta tell ya â” this past Wednesday’s was a pretty rough episode. I felt pretty down afterward, because we didn’t have a lot of good things to say about the images that were submitted, try as we might to find a silver lining in some cases. Usually we have three or four photographers whose work is really solid, and sometimes it’s more like 6 or 7, but on Wednesday, we only had one, and that really made it rough.
Our guest was photographer and instructor Rick Sammon, and Rick (as always) had lots of helpful technical insights on composition and technique, but we all struggled at times to come up with anything meaningful or nice to say, and I can tell you, that’s not fun. We want to be encouraging, but at the same time, we feel we need to be totally honest to really help, and every time we are, it reminds us of why it’s so much easier to lie and tell people “you’re on the right track” even when you know they aren’t.
It makes you feel like crud when you read a tweet like this, from someone we reviewed this past week:
Thankfully, we do see a lot of positive tweets from people who tell us it’s what they needed to hear, and you can tell they have the kind of attitude that’s going to make them a success. We’ve had people go right out again shooting after their critique; and share their photos literally a week later that are a night-and-day improvement from what they had submitted just a few days earlier, and that’s what keeps us going. There is nothing that makes an educator want to stand up and cheer more than seeing one of their students succeed. It’s what puts the fuel in our tanks, so you can imagine how all three of us felt after Wednesday’s episode where we barely had anything kind to say. It was a rough show. You could tell when things were really going bad because RC and I would just look over at Mr. Sammon and say “Rick?” and let him try to come up with something (poor Rick – he’s just a good sport).
If you get a few minutes, please take a look at the episode I posted above because there actually are some really good learning moments in there, especially in the first critique we did of the guy’s shots in the park (we spent a lot of time on his shots, but it was time well spent from a learning standpoint). We did have to make the point, after the commercial break, that the goal of the episode isn’t how many photos we get through â” it’s about how much we learn, and I hope you do take something useful from it (and I hope you submit your images next month around this same time).
I’m off to London!
I'm teaching my seminar in London on Tuesday, and if you're in the UK and you're not one of the 300 or so photographers coming out to spend the day with me (and Brad), why the heck not? Come on out - you'll learn a lot (it's 100% money back guaranteed, so you have nothing to lose - if you don't think it totally kicks butt, you get your money back!). Here's the link - I hope to see you there on Tuesday!
Have a great weekend everybody, and a great week (and make sure you follow me on Twitter and Facebook as I’ll be sharing my trip there next week. Well, starting Sunday anyway).