Asking someone to critique your work is hard. There’s a level of courage and swallowing one’s pride that doesn’t get easier if you choose to do it over the internet because after a dozen of unanswered emails frustration starts to weigh on you.
On the other hand, when I’m the one receiving the emails I tend to have mixed feelings about it.
I feel very honored that a complete stranger wants my review and opinion on their art, and at the same time I think it will still take me a lot of time and getting used to before I can feel comfortable doing it.
But despite all this… I love doing it for so many different reasons. First because you meet new colleagues and possibly make new friends. You are introduced to new work and even if you are already familiar with their photos you really have to look at them in a much deeper level, you are offered the rare opportunity to know the motivations and concepts behind an image as well as the techniques used to produce her. Critiquing someone else’s work challenges you in a completely different way and you start to see your own photos with other eyes, more efficient, concise and concrete. Also talking about photography with a colleague is always an immense pleasure and a great opportunity to grow and learn, while at the same time helping someone to grow and learn. So it’s a win win situation all the way.
Last month I had the opportunity to do all this after receiving an email from a photography student from the Art Institute of Portland with the subject “Student seeking a professional critique” . Overall it was a really good experience, she was so polite and nice – which is something I really appreciate when exchanging emails with someone, specially if is someone I don’t know – and gave us both the opportunity to do all the things I mentioned before. But mainly, her attitude was what really inspired me. I really look up to photographers who aren’t afraid of asking for what they want or need, to reach out and to connect with their peers either they are just beginning or are already an established Pro.
I can’t share her images with you guys, she is just beginning her studies, doesn’t have a proper website and politely asked me not to share her portfolio. I completely respect that so what I’ll do instead is show you my first experience in Art Nude photography since what she asked me to critique were her Art Nude images.
I haven’t done it in a while for numerous reasons, even though I love it so much, and despite the fact that the images are a bit dated and there are a lot of things I would do differently now, they are still an important part of my formation.
Feeling inspired to do something is really nice and everything… but the way to make it count is by doing something about it, right?
So, this month I dare you to reach out, send an email to complete strangers. Ask for their opinion about your work. Ask for their opinion on one of the ideas in your head that you aren’t sure about. Ask those people if they would be willing to participate in or indorse something like that. Just ask.
I’ll also do this and will be sharing the result of the process on the blog on a future post. If you do it, and I hope you do, don’t forget to share your experience on the comments below.