Mike Wilkinson discusses the process of reviewing and critiquing your own work.
Whether you shoot video or stills, we’ve all been there. That point at which you lose all objectivity and the ability to discern thoughtful, evocative images that nail the concept on the head, from the ones that are “too artistic,” or simply don’t fit the story. Our eyes numb the part of our brain that lets us separate what works from what doesn’t. Here are a few thoughts on how to approach critiques and kill your babies so that you end up with your best work.
You’ll have to forgive the expression of killing babies… if you haven’t heard it before, the phrase doesn’t have anything to do with actually killing your children. It’s a metaphor for cutting, cropping, deleting, or ignoring your own work that you have become too attached to. I’ve seen examples of this in photography as well as video, in both production and post.
Most creatives who went through school, learned their craft in a group setting. Hours of critique sessions staring up at prints on a wall, like children mesmerized by twinkling fireworks exploding the sky. In video, students can spend hours evaluating the nuances of how their video edits flow with the music, and whether or not it’s mixed well. Part of what we learned by going through this process over and over again was to train our brains to disconnect that personal connection with work, and critique it from an unbiased point of view. Even after practicing and understanding this, I still suffer from this from time to time. Recently, I’ve had to deal with a few instances of not only letting go of my photo concepts, but also letting go of footage that I felt was interesting, but in the end it just didn’t move the story forward.
Taking The Personal Out Of The Project
While I don’t claim to be a pro photographer (walking around with an L lens pretty much says it for me) I have done plenty of photo shoots for varied projects. On one particular shoot I was asked to shoot a portrait of a welding student to go along with a news story about his experiences and accomplishments. Working with the writer, I shot some different images of the welder, with one series focusing on him holding up a medal from a competition, and another series where I attempted to get a bit more creative with his portrait.
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