As part of our workshops we always do image reviews. Sometimes these occur during the workshop, and other times this happens after the trip. We just returned from leading a Patagonia workshop, and we were so busy shooting and traveling we didn’t have time or a classroom to do a formal image review. Instead, we will do an image review via Zoom. This review will take place two weeks after the trip, which is great for participants as they have time to cull and edit their images. But a good question always comes up…what images should they submit for review?
We (Cree and I) think the best approach is to submit your best work, and see what feedback you get. Part of any image review is putting your work out there for others to see, and being open to feedback. Maybe your work isn’t as good as an image you saw another participant take during the trip. Or maybe you think because you took the ‘iconic’ shot it isn’t great because others have taken the same photograph. I wouldn’t let any of this bother you! Your vision is your vision, no matter where you are standing!
Everyone is evolving as a photographer, it’s part of the creative process. Some folks may have great technical camera skills but not as good graphic awareness. Other photographers have good creative awareness but are still learning the camera skills to bring their vision to life. No matter where you are…it’s okay. And yes, there is always room to improve no matter who you are.
I absolutely love feedback on my work, and realize I see the world one way, and I can learn/be inspired from others by seeing their images. I learned very early on that there always are other photographers whose work will totally blow be away and make me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing! That’s okay, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a ‘good’ photographer. The way to grow in the creative world is by making mistakes, trying new things…and being open to feedback, both positive and constructive. Insecurity about’s one own work is common in the creative world…you’re nervous about the feedback you will receive. And you are presenting a very personal work for public feedback.
Don’t worry about submitting iconic images of popular viewpoints. They’re iconic for a reason. Originality doesn’t define being creative, it is one aspect of a much bigger picture. Iconic images can help us give participants feedback on their technical skills, use of creative lighting, story telling, graphic awareness and emotional engagement of the viewer. We often are hired to photographic iconic locations for travel assignments…clients don’t want a different view, they want the view the sells the location. Instead, they want us to use our photo skills and vision to make a compelling shot from that classic overlook alongside the road.
I’ll never forget going into a stock agency 30 years ago and presenting my best 40 slides to the editor. He placed them on the light table, took a look for about a minute, and said he could use about 5 of them. I was devastated…those 40 images we the best I had for over a year of shooting, and some were incredibly hard to get in harsh Alaska conditions. But I learned a lot from that encounter. The editor told me to get used to harsh feedback, and not to personalize my work so much. For the editor it was simply business as usual…he could use a few of my shots…I should be happy about that! In other words, get over myself, listen to what feedback he was saying, and keep trying. I’ve shot hundreds of assignments and worked with countless editors through the years…I always get some constructive feedback on what I can do better…and I crave that outside perspective, it helps me continue to improve as a photographer. Truth be told, I am very critical of my own work at this point in the game, and I always know I can do something better.
So if you are submitting images for one of our image reviews, get excited and don’t be intimidated! Image reviews are very informative and will help you become a better photographer down the road. We’re here to help you get clarity on your strengths and weaknesses, and grow as a photographer. Everyone’s path is different and unique…but what is important is you start down that path, and getting feedback helps you along the way.