A true artist willingly removes their heart, allows constructive criticism to stomp it, then puts it back--bruised and aching--to continue improving due to the all-consuming obsessive love for their art.
H. G. Mewis
My friend and fellow photographer, Tammy, recently hired another photographer, Alicia Fernandez of http://photoscoopstayintheloop.com, to help her sort through a shoot. According to Tammy, the shoot just didn’t go the way she planned, leaving her unhappy with all of her photos.
Tammy and Alicia allowed me to sit in on their session. First, they went through all the photos that Tammy shot, and Alicia offered constructive criticism on each of them as they came across the screen. Alicia truly critiqued each photo, commenting on the composition, posing, and lighting. She offered advice on what could have been done differently to achieve the desired shot. More importantly, she quickly pointed out when everything did come together in a particular shot. As an observer, I especially took note when Alicia would ask Tammy, “What don’t you like about this shot?” or, “What do you think is wrong with this shot?” These simple questions forced Tammy to think about each photo and prompted further discussion about the creative process on location. Furthermore, Alicia offered ideas on dealing with the unexpected, posing on the spot, and keeping your cool when you feel rushed.
Once the photos where critiqued, it was time to go through again and pick the ones that Tammy did like. For me this was the fun part, as I had not taken the photos, making it easy to be objective. By the end of this review, we realized Tammy actually had more “keepers” than she had previously thought. This process made me realize we can all benefit from a fresh set of eyes and some consecutive criticism.
Now it was time to move on to the really fun part of the session--editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. Tammy and I are both fairly new to Lightroom and Photoshop, so having Alicia there to walk us through each stage of the processing was beneficial. Editing is the part where the art happens for me, as a good photo becomes even better, and a story unfolds in the final image.
I know hiring another photographer isn't always an option. Get creative, barter, offer to assist on a future shoot. Join a photography club. Start to surround yourself with people who share your passion. I think hiring a fellow photographer for a review of a shoot, your portfolio, or your post processing is another one of the tools we can use to become better photographers. It is also important to have a little bit of working knowledge of who you are hiring. Not all photographers are created equal, and no one wants to work with an ego-driven photographer. Tammy had taken a workshop with Alicia, so she knew that Alicia was not only a gifted photographer, but also a skillful instructor. Spending the day observing this process was really valuable experience for me. Tammy and I both signed up to take a workshop with Alicia and are looking forward to traveling to Miami in the new year to take yet another one of her workshops.
We all have something to learn and something to teach. Sometimes we just have to put ourselves out there and let the universe do the rest.