Learn to Critique your own work

As a photographer, it is important to learn to critique your own work.  It is also important to know your audience when sharing your work, especially as a good example.  I saw this happen recently in a comment from a professional photography organizations recent post on social media.  The post was the image the image below that the organization shared on a social media site.

One of the comments to the photograph above talked about the disappointment in brides with their cheap photographers after the wedding.  A reply to that comment was, “Did a wedding free didn’t do a perfect job, it was family (and portfolio work) I’m still a student. Not claiming to be great but, not everyone cheap screws it completely up. LOL Below… Proof”

Here is the “proof”

The photographer is correct when they said, “it isn’t great”.   It isn’t even good.  This photograph, to me, looks like something I could do with my cellphone and an Instagram filter.  To me, and I’m certain others who are members of this professional organization feel the same.  This is an example of “you get what you pay for.”

If you are not sure what I am talking about let us analyze this image.

The both the bride and groom appear to be wearing white, which has a very distinct color cast.  (Note: I looked through other photographs this photographer took of this same couple and the color cast varies throughout the images.  In some cases, it is very blue and in others, it is almost green.)  The vignette, oh the vignette.  It is way too dark.  I know, it is artistic and to that I say bullshit!  (Sorry for the language but at the moment I cannot think of any better term to use).  All the objects on the table serve as a distraction to the subject, which is clearly intended to be the happy couple kissing.  The skin tones appear to be way off unless they are orange, and I am still trying to figure out if the guy behind the couple is embarrassed or what since he is looking down and apparently laughing.

I believe I need to be clear here.  I am not a wedding photographer.  I have photographed some weddings and what I have learned is they are a very specialized type of photojournalistic portrait event photography.  I also would like to say I feel for the photographer, especially after reviewing other examples of their work.  This photographer, in my opinion, has no business taking on such an important task, for free or not.  I know that sounds harsh but I cannot silently sugarcoat my thoughts.  I know some of you will take great offense to these comments and try to defend this photograph.  I also know some of you will look at some of my photographs and pick them apart in an attempt to show I have no business giving my opinion.  The reason I feel bad for this photographer is this, they don’t realize how to critique their own work and compare it to the work done by professional wedding photographers, I don’t mean the weekend warrior types I mean the people who truly are experienced, well trained, highly skilled wedding pros which I am sure you can find and know who I mean.  This photographer has put this piece of work “out there” as an example of “good” in a forum of these professionals.  Is it any wonder why some of these highly trained and skilled professionals get all worked up about some “newbies”?

The lesson I would like to give us here is this, know your limitations.  Know your skill level.  Compare your work to those who are highly skilled and welled trained because that is the level you are attempting to measure yourself by ESPECIALLY when you are attempting to do the work of a highly skilled well trained professional.  By the way, I know my limitations and thus I don’t do weddings.  The weddings I have done I discouraged the bride and groom from using me.

So, how do you learn how to really analyze your own work?  Take a class from a real person where that person can and does critique your work.  Listen to others who actually know what they are doing and don’t become offended.  Also, realize that your work will be critiqued whether or not you want it to be done.

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