Introduction to Photography: Week 11: Critique and Feedback

Introduction to Photography: Week 11: Critique and Feedback


Welcome to Week 11 of our Introduction to Photography series! As we continue to explore the multifaceted world of photography, this week we’re honing in on a critical aspect that can make or break your journey as a photographer: the role of critique and feedback. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a budding enthusiast, understanding how to give and receive constructive criticism is key to your artistic and technical growth.

What You’ll Learn

In this in-depth post, you can expect to discover:

  • The Value of Critique: Understand why feedback is not just beneficial but essential for your ongoing development as a photographer.

  • Types of Feedback: Learn about the various channels through which you can receive valuable critique, be it from peers, mentors, or online communities.

  • How to Give and Receive Critique: Master the art of providing constructive feedback and learn how to effectively interpret and apply the critiques you receive.

  • Ethical Considerations: Explore the ethical dimensions of critique in photography, including sensitive issues like plagiarism and consent.

  • Future Trends: Get a glimpse into how emerging technologies, including AI, are revolutionizing the way critique and feedback are conducted in the photography world.

So, if you’re eager to elevate your photography skills and gain new perspectives on your work, you won’t want to miss this week’s lesson on the invaluable role of critique and feedback.


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Table of Contents

A wide angle view from inside One World Trade Center.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

The ChatGPT Experiment

I am completely fascinated with the emergence of LLM models like ChatGPT

After years of Google search results being watered down with sponsored blog posts, and articles that pretend to offer information, but are really just a tease to get the reader to sign up for some insanely expensive online course, it felt like a breath of fresh air, to type in a question and get a straightforward response.

I was curious to see if I could use ChatGPT to learn more about photography. I decided to look for gaps in my own knowledge, by asking ChatGPT to act as a professor of art and photography and create a complete photography degree for me. 

ChatGPT was happy to oblige. I went a step further, and asked ChatGPT to create a syllabus for each of the 14 courses it suggested. 

Drilling down even further, I asked ChatGPT for a detailed lesson plan for each individual week of each syllabi. 

Today, I present the Week 10 lesson plan for the first course: Introduction to Photography. 

Week 11: Critique and Feedback in Photography

Duration: 3 Hours


Welcome to Week 11 of our Introduction to Photography series! This week, we’ll get into the critical aspects of critique and feedback. We’ll explore how constructive criticism can help you grow as a photographer and improve your work in various ways.

I. Lecture Outline

Recap of Previous Week

  • Summarize the main points discussed in last week’s exploration of the digital age in photography.

Importance of Critique and Feedback

  • Discuss the value of critique in the creative process.
  • Explain how feedback can improve technical aspects, composition, storytelling, and overall image quality.

Guidelines for Constructive Critique

  • Provide a framework for giving and receiving feedback respectfully and constructively.
  • Discuss elements to consider when evaluating photographs, such as composition, lighting, subject matter, and emotional impact.

Presenting and Discussing Student Work

  • Establish a supportive and inclusive environment for sharing and discussing your photographs.
  • Emphasize the importance of active listening and thoughtful feedback.

Incorporating Feedback into Future Projects

  • Guide on how to analyze and apply the feedback you receive.
  • Encourage reflection on personal strengths and areas for growth.

II. Discussion Topics

The Value of Constructive Critique

  • Engage in a discussion about the benefits of receiving feedback from peers and instructors.

Balancing Subjectivity and Objectivity

  • Discuss the challenges of evaluating photographs, considering that aesthetic preferences can vary.

Navigating Feedback and Personal Vision

  • Explore how to incorporate feedback while maintaining your unique artistic voice.

III. Peer Critique Session

  • Allocate time for each participant to present their work and receive feedback.
  • Establish a structured format for the critique session.
  • Facilitate the discussion, ensuring a supportive environment for constructive critique.

IV. Reading Assignment


Remember to continue working on your ongoing assignments, including preparing for the photography exhibition and researching career paths in photography. The critique session is a valuable opportunity for growth, so make sure to actively engage and apply the feedback you receive.

An image of dangling spring flowers on a tree.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

The Value of Critique

Critique and feedback serve as invaluable tools for any photographer aiming to elevate their craft. While it’s natural to feel apprehensive about receiving criticism, embracing this process can offer profound insights into your work. Here’s why critique is indispensable for your growth as a photographer.

Identifying Opportunities for Growth

One of the most apparent benefits of critique is its ability to highlight areas where you can improve. Whether it’s technical skills, composition, or emotional impact, constructive criticism can provide a roadmap for your development. A good critic will not only point out your shortcomings but also offer actionable advice on how to address them. Multiple critiques can be especially valuable when setting growth goals, as they can independently identify the same areas for improvement.

Understanding and Embracing Your Strengths

Critique isn’t just about pointing out flaws; it’s also about recognizing what you’re doing right. Sometimes, your strengths may be aspects of your work that you’re not even consciously aware of. When these strengths are highlighted during a critique, it can serve as a form of validation and encourage you to further develop those skills.

Emotional Maturity and Resilience

Photography is often a deeply personal endeavor, making critique feel like a judgment of not just your work but also your character. Learning to handle critique gracefully can help you grow emotionally as an artist. It prepares you to deal with various opinions and helps you distinguish between constructive feedback and mere criticism.

Gaining an Objective Perspective

When you’re closely involved in the creative process, it’s challenging to evaluate your work objectively. An external critique can offer a perspective that you might not have considered, helping you see your work in a new light.

Achieving Artistic Clarity

Critique can also help you refine your artistic voice. While it’s essential to listen to feedback, it’s equally important to know when to stand your ground. If a piece of criticism doesn’t align with your vision, it’s okay to disregard it. Knowing what to change and what to keep is crucial in defining your unique style.

How Critique Shaped Famous Photographers

Great photographers like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange didn’t work in a vacuum; they too benefited from critique. Adams was part of the f/64 group, where photographers critiqued each other’s work, pushing the boundaries of what was possible in photography. Lange’s work during the Great Depression was often critiqued by her peers and editors, helping her capture some of the most iconic images of that era.

A close up image of a rose.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Types of Feedback

Critique and feedback can come from various sources, each offering a unique perspective on your work. Knowing where to seek feedback and what to expect can help you make the most out of this invaluable resource.

Peer Reviews

One of the most accessible forms of critique comes from your peers. Whether it’s a fellow photographer, a friend, or a family member, peer reviews offer immediate and often candid feedback. However, the quality of the critique may vary depending on the reviewer’s expertise and understanding of photography.

Online Communities

The internet has made it easier than ever to receive feedback from a global audience. Platforms like Instagram, Reddit’s r/photocritique, and specialized photography forums allow you to showcase your work and receive comments from both amateurs and professionals.

Photography Instructors and Mentors

For more in-depth and tailored feedback, consider seeking out a photography instructor or mentor. These experts can provide comprehensive critiques that not only address the technical aspects of your work but also help you develop your unique style and vision.

Photography Competitions

Entering photography competitions can be another way to receive professional critique. Judges in these contests often provide feedback on entries, offering insights into both your strengths and areas for improvement.

Client Feedback

If you’re a professional photographer, don’t underestimate the value of client feedback. While clients may not always have a technical understanding of photography, their comments can offer valuable insights into aspects like composition, mood, and the effectiveness of your work in meeting their needs.

How to Give Critique in Photography

The Art of Giving Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is an essential skill for anyone involved in the creative process, including photographers. Constructive critique goes beyond merely pointing out flaws; it provides actionable suggestions that can help the photographer improve. The key is to be specific, objective, and kind. Your feedback should aim to guide the photographer toward better practices, whether it’s improving composition, lighting, or storytelling.

What to Focus On

When critiquing another photographer’s work, focus on elements like composition, lighting, subject matter, and emotional impact. These are the building blocks of a great photograph. Offer a balanced critique that includes both strengths and areas for improvement. Remember, your goal is to help the photographer see their work from a new perspective, not to impose your own artistic vision on them.

Critiquing is not just about finding faults; it’s also an opportunity to appreciate the good in others’ work. By giving thoughtful and constructive feedback, you contribute to a culture of continuous improvement and mutual respect in the photography community.

A close up of a dandi-lion
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

How to Receive Critique in Photography

The Importance of Being Open to Feedback

Being open to critique is crucial for any photographer looking to improve their skills and artistry. While it’s natural to be attached to your work, detaching your ego and listening to others’ perspectives can offer invaluable insights. Whether it’s technical advice or artistic suggestions, feedback can serve as a mirror, reflecting both your strengths and areas for improvement.

Tips on How to Analyze and Apply the Critique You Receive

Once you’ve received feedback, the next step is to analyze it critically. Look for recurring themes or suggestions that align with your own self-assessment. Not all feedback will be applicable, so it’s essential to discern which critiques resonate with your artistic vision. Once you’ve sifted through the feedback, apply the relevant suggestions to your future projects. This iterative process of create-critique-adjust is how you evolve as a photographer.

Receiving critique is as much an art as giving it. By being open and analytical, you not only improve your work but also contribute to a culture of constructive criticism within the photography community.

An image of a lily of the valley in Vile Verde Portugal
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Online Platforms for Critique in Photography

Websites and Forums for Critique

The internet offers a plethora of platforms where photographers can submit their work for critique. These platforms range from specialized photography forums to broader social media sites. Here are some notable ones:

Pros and Cons of Online Platforms

  • Accessibility: You can get feedback from a global community of photographers.
  • Anonymity: If you prefer, you can receive feedback without revealing your identity.
  • Diversity of Opinions: Multiple viewpoints can provide a more rounded critique.
  • Quality of Feedback: Not all feedback will be constructive or professional.
  • Overwhelm: The sheer volume of feedback can be overwhelming and confusing.
  • Potential for Negativity: Online platforms can sometimes harbor trolls or overly harsh critics.

Choosing the right platform and approach can make a significant difference in the quality of critique you receive. Being aware of the pros and cons can help you navigate online platforms more effectively.

An image of a lotus flower.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Photography Clubs and Workshops

The Role of Physical Communities in Providing Critique

Photography clubs and workshops serve as invaluable platforms for photographers to engage in constructive critique. These physical communities offer a range of activities, from guest speakers and competitions to image sharing and workshops. The feedback received in such settings is often more nuanced and personalized, given the face-to-face interactions. Moreover, clubs often categorize members based on skill levels, ensuring that beginners are not pitted against seasoned professionals, thereby making the critique process more equitable.

How to Find and Join These Communities

Finding a photography club or workshop is relatively straightforward. A simple Google search for “camera clubs” in your area should yield multiple options. Websites like also list photography meetup groups. If you can’t find a club that suits your needs, you can even start your own. All you need are a few photography enthusiasts and a venue. Libraries, churches, and local art centers often offer space for such activities, sometimes even for free.

Joining a photography club or participating in a workshop can be a transformative experience. It provides a structured environment where you can receive constructive feedback, learn from others, and continually refine your skills.

Ethical Considerations in Critique

Critique is an essential part of any creative process. It provides valuable insights that can help improve your work and take it to the next level. However, the process of giving and receiving critique is not without its ethical considerations. Let’s delve into some of these.


When critiquing someone’s work, it’s crucial to remember that their ideas and execution are their own. Copying or closely mimicking their work without permission is not only unethical but also illegal. Plagiarism undermines the very essence of creativity and disrespects the original creator. Always give credit where credit is due and seek permission if you wish to use someone else’s work as a basis for your own.


Before offering unsolicited advice or critique, it’s polite and ethical to ask for consent. Not everyone is open to receiving feedback, and your unsolicited advice could come off as intrusive or disrespectful. On the flip side, if you’re seeking critique, make sure to clarify what kind of feedback you’re looking for. This sets the stage for a constructive and respectful exchange.

Honesty vs. Tact

While honesty is important in a critique, it should never be an excuse for rudeness or personal attacks. The goal is to help the other person improve, not to tear them down. Be specific in your feedback and offer suggestions for improvement. Remember, your words have the power to either encourage or discourage someone in their creative journey.


If someone has shared their work with you privately, it’s your ethical responsibility to keep it that way unless you have explicit permission to do otherwise. Sharing someone else’s work without consent can be a breach of trust and could have legal ramifications.

Constructive Criticism

The aim of any critique should be constructive. Pointing out flaws without offering solutions doesn’t help anyone. Make sure your feedback is actionable and helps the person improve. This is not just ethical but also fosters a positive environment for creative growth.

The act of giving and receiving critique is a sensitive one, laden with ethical considerations. From avoiding plagiarism to seeking consent and offering constructive feedback, each step requires thoughtfulness and respect for the other person’s work and feelings. By adhering to these ethical guidelines, we can make the process more enriching and rewarding for everyone involved.

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Future Trends

The world of photography is ever-evolving, and so is the way we critique and improve our work. With advancements in technology, the future holds exciting possibilities for how we give and receive feedback. Here are some trends to watch out for:

AI Tools for Critique

Artificial Intelligence is making its way into every aspect of our lives, and photography critique is no exception. AI-powered tools are being developed that can analyze compositions, lighting, and even emotional impact. While these tools can’t replace human intuition and experience, they can provide quick, objective feedback that can be invaluable for improvement.

Virtual Workshops

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual platforms for learning and collaboration. Virtual photography workshops are becoming increasingly popular, offering a space for photographers from around the world to come together, share their work, and receive feedback. These platforms often feature real-time editing sessions, Q&A with experts, and peer reviews.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Imagine being able to project a photograph onto a wall and have a group of people provide real-time feedback through AR glasses. This technology could revolutionize the way we think about photography critique, making it more interactive and immersive.

Blockchain for Copyright Issues

Blockchain technology could play a significant role in addressing plagiarism and copyright issues in photography. By recording the ‘creation’ of a photograph in a tamper-proof blockchain, photographers can irrefutably prove their ownership, making it easier to resolve disputes and ethical considerations around critique.

Social Media Algorithms

As social media platforms continue to evolve, so do their algorithms for content visibility. Understanding these algorithms can help photographers get more eyes on their work, and consequently, more feedback. However, this also raises ethical questions about the ‘authenticity’ of such feedback, as algorithms can sometimes prioritize engagement over quality.

The future of photography critique is bright, with numerous technological advancements on the horizon. From AI and AR to blockchain and evolving social media algorithms, these technologies promise to make the process of giving and receiving feedback more efficient, ethical, and engaging.

A macro image of a tulip that is about to bloom.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Conclusion: The Power of Critique and Feedback

As we wrap up Week 11 of our Introduction to Photography series, it’s clear that the role of critique and feedback is indispensable in our journey as photographers. These aren’t just words thrown around in a classroom or online forum; they are the building blocks that help us refine our skills, perfect our art, and deepen our understanding of this beautiful medium.

Critique serves as a mirror, reflecting both our strengths and areas for improvement. It pushes us out of our comfort zones, challenging us to look at our work from different perspectives. Feedback, when given constructively, acts as a guide, steering us toward the path of continuous improvement and artistic growth.

So, don’t shy away from seeking critique or providing feedback to others. Embrace it as an essential part of your learning process. Whether you’re a beginner capturing your first set of images or a seasoned photographer with years of experience, there’s always room for growth. And often, that growth is fueled by the insights and perspectives that only a thoughtful critique can provide.

I encourage you to actively participate in critique sessions, be it online or in physical communities. Share your work, offer your insights, and most importantly, be open to receiving feedback. After all, the art of photography is a lifelong journey, and critique is one of your most valuable travel companions.

A top-down macro image of a pink tulip that is just beginning to bloom.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Join the Conversation and Stay Tuned!

Now that we’ve delved into the significance of critique and feedback, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have you ever received a piece of critique that changed the way you approach photography? Or perhaps you’ve given feedback that helped someone else? Share your stories in the comments below; let’s make this a space for learning and growth.

If you’ve found value in this lesson and are eager to continue this educational journey with me, make sure to subscribe. By doing so, you’ll stay updated on future lessons, tips, and insights that can help you become a more skilled and thoughtful photographer.

So go ahead, hit that subscribe button, and let’s keep the conversation going!

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