100 Steps to IYP – Lesson 8 – Assignments and Critique
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
Hello fellow shutterbugs… Do you know what I just finished?? An assignment. No, it wasn’t a photography assignment. It was a paper on Oscillator circuits, which has absolutely nothing to do with photography. But… Assignments… they are something very important for us photographers. Not because they pay well (of course that’s a great thing, but those are not the assignments that I’m talking about right now), but because they lead to immense growth as a photographer.
Today’s lesson in the Improve Your Photography series is about doing your homework and critiquing pictures.
TIP 1: Give yourself assignments…
This, as stated above, is a very powerful way to learn a lot, really fast. Give yourself assignments, and treat them like homework. When I say treat that, I mean that there should be a certain level of commitment. Don’t do it just for the heck of it. Do it because you want to. When you know you have an assignment that has to be done, and that you have to do your best and live up to a certain level that you set for yourself, you automatically get that energy… the energy to wake up at 5 in the morning, go out in the freezing cold or blistering heat, get dirty and bruised, donate a liter of blood to mosquitoes, and in the end, come home with a photo that you will remember for a long time. It is one of the best feelings in the world, when your hard work pays off.
You can give yourself theme based assignments like say ‘curves’ or ‘faces’ or ‘blur in everyday life’ or whatever you like. Start with topics you’re familiar with, and then move on to stuff that you haven’t experimented with yet. Once you’ve decided the topic, allot yourself a time frame, and make a genuine effort to capture shots that pertain to the theme. You can also go for ‘A Shot A Day’ type of assignment. Once this is taken care of, you move on to TIP 2.
TIP 2: Self Analysis and Critique
The benefit of assignments comes in two parts. One is from the effort you make to get the picture. The second is by analyzing the pictures that you’ve got. Pick a picture that you don’t like too much, but one that you think has something right in it, and analyse it. What don’t you like? What you did wrong? What you would do differently, and why? Then pick a picture that you really like, and ask yourself why you like it? Do a detailed analysis with regard to the sharpness, focus, composition, choice of subject, lighting, and anything else you can think of. The more detail you go into, the more surprised you’ll be with what you learn.
TIP 3: Critique other people’s photographs
Don’t restrict yourself to your own pictures. Spend time looking through other people’s photographs, and providing critique. Try not to offend the other person, that’s all And you really don’t have to be a pro to critique someone’s pictures . Its just a matter of opinion. “For best results, analyse the photograph in as much detail as possible”. Most photographers welcome honest constructive criticism, and it helps both the one taking and giving the criticism. I remember, there was this nice woman by the name of Marie, who used to take fantastic pictures of sunsets. She was so good that she was given the nickname of ‘Sunset Queen’ by the community members. I remember asking her for tips and she gave me only one, which is the one you’re reading right now.
TIP 4: Get others to critique your pictures
Give criticism, take criticism. Be open to criticism. You’ll find comments that might offend you, or some which you simply disagree with, but you’ll also find comments that point out things you might never have thought of. And that is when the growth happens.
Knowledge is meant to be shared. Be a part of the sharing. Communicate with others in the same field, and you’ll end everyday with a new lesson learnt.
Previous Post: What to do with soft focus.