Magic Monday: Receiving Personal Criticism

I’m coming up on one year of Magic Monday posts.  As part of the retrospective feelings that come with a New Year, I’ll be posting a few of my favorite MM posts from the last year (many of which are from my old blog which is now in the virtual graveyard…) I thought this post would be fitting, given the time of “RESOLUTION” this year brings.  I’m all about improving my work this year!
(image courtesy of google images)

Magic Monday:  Receiving Personal Criticism

Do you have a particular book or movie character that you totally identify with?  Mine would be Anne Shirly of “Anne of Green Gables“.  I don’t know if its the red hair, the fiery temper, the drama, or the four months I spent living on Prince Edward Island.  All of them I’m sure make the two of us “kindred spirits”, but one particular weakness that we also both share is our trouble receiving personal criticism.  Just like Anne, I’ve gotten better with age, but we both have had moments of strained relationships and broken hearts over critical words (no matter how well intended) said about our work.

Criticism for our creations can hurt sometimes, but it can also be a beautiful opportunity to improve.  The most powerful criticism I’ve received throughout my life usually has come from those in authority over me, or those who are more knowledgeable and an expert in the field.  As a music composer with two degree’s in the field, I had a lovely 8 years of college education to receive weekly criticism of my music at my private lessons.  It can be hard to create something from your heart and have the weaknesses pointed out, yet most assuredly, I would not be the level of composer that I am today without the many words of improvement I received from my professors.  In many ways it was a training ground for me to discover weaknesses on my own and constantly be looking for ways to make my composition stronger.

When I first took up photography, I was pretty confident.  Likely, because having a digital camera and a computer can make one seem like an expert or professional and you didn’t even have to have any training or experience!  I was proud of what I had accomplished “all on my own” and judged my work pretty highly.  When I first started photography lessons with Dustin Fife, he began by looking through my portfolio of work and pointing out the areas that I could improve!  What!?  Improve?!!!  But I was already good!  It was the best thing he could have done for me!  Not only did it bring some humility and help me see that I had a long ways to go to get better, it again became a training ground for me to see the weaknesses in my work and constantly be looking for ways to make it better.  Each week, he’d look at my work, and although he’d praise the good, he also made sure that there was always something that I could improve upon.  I look back on my work now from a few years ago and laugh.  He was right!  I had a long ways to go!  The bright side is that I’ve improved and gotten better!  I hope a year from now I can say the same thing.  There’s been progress. How grateful am I for the mentors I’ve had to help me grow!

This week I’ve been following the blog of Zach Arias, an amazing photographer based in Atlanta Georgia.  He’s been offering critiques of people’s photographic work by looking at blogs/websites/or even a flickr page.  He’s received over 300 requests from photographers all over the world to critique their work.  These requests have come from all walks of life–those who are professionals in the field, those calling themselves professionals, those wanting to be professionals, and even happy hobbyists in the field.

Although I haven’t sent in my personal critique request yet… I have learned SO MUCH by watching these episodes.  If you are a professional photographer, or aspiring to that, or even just have a hobby of taking pictures for family and friends with a secret desire to turn your work into a business, I highly recommend watching some of these.  Most assuredly you will find yourself in one of them and be able to see areas that you can improve! He’s done a great job of providing variation in the talent and experience of those he’s chosen to evaluate and gives a good written intro underneath each critique for you to find which one might be the most helpful for you to watch (although I’ve learned from ALL of them). I’ve already made a few changes to my website and blog after hearing his very wise feed back.

And you know what?  Learning through someone else’s criticism hurts a whole lot less!

avatarBrooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah.  Brooke specializes as a Utah Senior photographer, Logan Senior photographer, Utah Family Photographer, Logan Family Photographer, Logan childrens photographer , Utah Childrens Photographer and is a photography teacher who enjoys teaching private photography lessons as well as monthly photography classes in Logan, Utah.

7 Responses

  1. I gave my copy to mom last night… but I just finished doing my morning pages! (yes… morning pages done at 7:00 p.m.) At least they got done.

    No I haven’t read Chapter 8. Sounds like I should. Tell mom to get her own book and give mine back! I need to creativity progress!

  2. Your insight is amazing. I probably fall into a large group of people simply afraid to try things because I’m shy of the criticism sure to follow. Criticism does give us the opportunity to improve…but only if we are willing to accept it an take a step forward. But (and I say this hesitantly) isn’t “trying” what life’s all about?

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