Art Critiquing - A Necessary Evil

At the seminar I attended last week Scott Kelby touched on the subject of having your work critiqued. He said that if you want honest feedback you need to have your work looked at by people other than friends and family. He mentioned there was a friend of his that was always going on about photography and his gear and how he was shooting this and that, so he figured man this guy must be pretty good. It turns out, that he was just horrible but nobody close to him, meaning his friends or family would tell him this for fear it would really hurt him. So this begs the question, if you want an honest opinion of your work, do you need to go to an outside source?

I have heard many photographers say your family and friends will never tell you the truth or give you honest feedback about your work. I would have to say and this is just my opinion but I don’t totally agree with this statement.

I don’t think this is naivety on my part, I just believe I have completely honest, upfront, no bullshit friends, family and spouse in my corner. They will tell me if they think something doesn’t look good or it’s not working for them. I am sure this isn’t the case with everyone because some people just wouldn’t want to hurt people’s feelings or crush their goals and dreams by telling them they don’t really have any raw talent or the eye to make it as an artist. How hard would it be to tell someone they should just sell their gear and try something different as a career choice?

If you think about it though, are we doing more harm than good by not being totally honest? Just because it is the craft they chose, does it mean they are absolutely good at it? I say you are giving them false hope by doing this. Be honest and open, isn’t that what friends and family are for? You can tell someone their work isn’t good enough without being mean or cruel. It’s called constructive criticism! They may not want to hear it but isn’t it better coming from friends and family? Or is it better coming from strangers?

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