Why you need a photography portfolio critique. Now!
Have you ever been stuck in a photography rut? It's the worst.
Unmotivated. Uninspired. Unhappy.
It happens to the best of us (usually during winter). I've been there and it's frustrating. The photographic learning curve is steep. It's impossible to master everything and it sometimes seems like everyone is light years ahead of us.
If you're in this place I have good news for you. I found my way out of the rut with a little help. I signed up for one of Stacie Turner's Photography Review/Critiques and it changed my (photography) life.
The first thing you want to do is make a short list of your favorite photographers. Think about what it is about their work that draws you in. I spent months researching before choosing Stacie as my critiquer. I wanted to make sure that my money was well spent and that my review/critique was going to set me on a path to improve my photography drastically.
Choose the photographer you'd like to work with. Create a set/portfolio that includes your best work but don't stress yourself out in the process. Make sure you have a handful of shots from each of your favorite genres. My current portfolio consists mostly of my portraits of my children and a few clients, some abstract stuff, and pretty things like flowers and trees.
Here's what you can expect to get out of your review/critique session:
There's nothing more motivating than being told what your strengths are by a respected/professional/award-winning (depending on the person you choose) photographer. That's right. You *don't* suck. No matter how many hours you spend comparing yourself to the photographic rock star du jour you do have your own personal strengths.
It feels great to hear that from someone who knows their stuff. Once you know what your strengths are you can breathe a sigh of relief and keep it moving. You don't have to stop growing in that area but you can take it easy on yourself in those and begin to grow in others where you may be a little weaker.
Stacie motivated me to stick with my current processing style. I love clean, fresh, and vibrant images for portraits but on occasion would play around with other styles that I admired (matte processing) but didn't fit my work. She encouraged me to stick with what I'm doing.
I *love* this picture and always will but this post processing is not my style. Matte & muted images draw me in. My friend Rebecca is incredible at it. It doesn't work with my style of photography and that's okay. No need to force it.
*This* is my style. Clean, bright, and vibrant colors.
I've heard female photographers mention fear over critiques and reviews. Part of me understands how difficult it can be to hear that what you once considered to be a photographic masterpiece is but a mere snapshot. I don't operate that way. I've worked in some pretty tough industries so I've acquired a thick skin. I want to be told each and every thing I am doing wrong. There is no way I will grow and reach my potential if I keep repeating the same mistakes.
Here is an example. My header. Yep I'm putting it all out there.
This image works for my header because it has a ton of awesome negative space for my tag line on the left. But why is this space there? No reason besides I learned somewhere along the way that negative space is good. BUT it's only good when there's a reason.
If Preston had the camera to his face and then it looked like he was taking a photo of something off to the left this photo might work BUT he isn't. He's just fiddling with the camera. It's a snapshot not a portrait.
Learning the difference between a portrait and a snapshot was a huge game changer for me. Once Stacie explained to me the correct way to use negative space I was beyond inspired. I swear I've spent at least three hours with Preston facing the large windows modeling for me. I'm addicted and it seems so simple now. It clicked.
I'm a worrier. I try to keep it in check but I worry about the most insane things. One of my fears is that once my husband graduates and I return to school that photography will take a backseat to my academics and career. Stacie assured me that photography is my passion and I will always find the time for it. She's right. If my camera isn't in my hand I'm reading and learning about photography. If I'm not reading and learning I'm probably planning my next shoot. It is my passion and nothing will change that. Life may get in the way but photography will always be there for me when I'm ready.
I needed to hear that.
I don't sharpen the kids' eyes by the way. That's all natural light. Ahh I'm going to miss it.
I have a lot of growing and learning to do but I feel like I'm on the right path now that I've received some professional direction. My portfolio critique/review was worth a lot more than what I paid for it and I am super thankful. If you're interested check out Stacie's offerings, a ClickinMom mentor, or ask your favorite photographer whether they offer review/critique services.
Have you ever considered a portfolio review/critique? Why or why not?