Being Your Own Critic

In Digital, Inspiration
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I have a lot of thoughts rumbling about in my brain on the idea of self-critique right now.  How do we objectively curate our own creations?  Are we too hard on ourselves?  Are we not selective enough?  Should our Instagram feeds and our Facebook updates be perfect representations of our signature styles?  To me, it feels like there is a fine line to showing my humanity and showing my work.   Who’s to say what my “best” work is anyway?  (I guess, ultimately, it’s me, but you know what I mean…) If you’re asking me today, my favorites will certainly differ from what I would’ve chosen a year ago.  Or 2 years ago.  And next week, they’ll likely be different again.

One thing I’ve found helpful recently is to go backwards.  To look at things that I shot in the past and reassess their value to me.  Maybe adding that distance between my work and my emotions allows me the space to create more objective opinions.  But I don’t think it’s enough to just look back at my work right now.  I need to document why I feel that way so I can refine my style and continue to grow.  As most of you know, I’ve been working on this silly project off and on for a few years.  It’s called my Jar of Inspiration and it keeps me shooting with a new purpose in mind each month.  Over the years, I’ve given myself all kinds of topics to shoot from, but today, I’m going back to the beginning to recount the first 3 months of images.  I’ll show you my favorite from each month and my least favorite and I’ll tell you why.   Here goes:

My favorite from the month of Texture: 9417534867_5743704339_k

I find that I’m really drawn to warm, saturated colors and lots of contrast.  This image has some crazy colors and some real depth.  It makes me stop and look at it longer.  Even though it’s not perfect on the focus, I still like it.


My least favorite:


This image just feels so stark and sterile to me.  It’s boring.  For an image about texture, there really isn’t much to be seen in those sugar cubes.  Now that I have a little more practice with food photography, I realize how I could have brought out the sugar grains a little bit more.

My favorite from the month of Self-Portraits:

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One of the things I like most about this image is that it came out like I imagined in my head before I started.  I learned a lot about compositing images by making this one and although there are things I could improve, it still has that warm feel to it.  I also like that I paid attention to the details in setting this one up because the blue bracelets and the blue jar seem to go well together.

My least favorite:


This might be one of my least favorite self-portraits that I’ve posted.  The color tones are off for the whole image, but it’s most apparent in my skin.   The setup is boring and there’s no story to be found in this shot.  Also?  I don’t like the way the bottom of my foot is showing…  Which reminds me that the details are important.

My favorite from the month of F11+:


Even though this image isn’t the best use of an F11 aperture, it’s still my favorite from the month.  It has good contrast in black and white.  It’s a image that gives the illusion of motion even though the flowers were perfectly still that day.  I love the vignette of the fence that I was shooting through and it created the effect that I was hoping for when I made the shot.

My least favorite:


In this failed image, I was hoping to get a nice contrast between the rickety, old church and the new shiny buildings in the background, but my framing didn’t really work.  Not only that, the sky is completely over-exposed.  It doesn’t have any dramatic elements to keep it interesting.  Perhaps a different time of day (early morning or late evening)  could have produced more rich and interesting textures.  And a different vantage point could have helped make this image a bit more interesting.

To be able to go backwards, I love that I have my images cataloged in Flickr.  I feel like I use it as my sketchbook.  I always have access to my images and I can go back and compare entire months of images at one time on a single page.  Even though it’s not as active as a community as it used to be, I still post my daily images there so I can have everything in one place.   I can always go back and do little exercises (like this one!) to keep improving.  Do you still use Flickr?  Or is Instagram your repository of images?  Do you ever go back and look through your work with an eye for improvement?

I guess, in the end, going backwards actually helps me go forward.

Always moving- Angie


  1. This is one of my favorite posts! Thank you for sharing these images. I am a painter, and I keep (too many) paintings that have lots of room for improvement, to be able to later see progress. It was interesting to look at the image before reading your comments to see if I could guess what you would say.

    • Thanks Peggy -Did you guess right? One of the hardest things for us as artists is to look at our work objectively. I’m glad it struck a cord for you.

  2. Love this, Angie! And I’m definitely still over on Flickr. I find it great both to look back and analyze old images and as an archive for my old stuff 🙂

  3. What a wonderful post! I love to look at my old images; it’s one of the reasons I use TimeHop! Oh my goodness, my old Instagram pictures were a shocker!

  4. This is for me, one of the most difficult things to do. If I took the photo is because I loved it – hard to decide why it’s good and why not… Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. such a great exercise here. and a good reminder of what we learn when we practice our art regularly.
    I just finished listening to a great podcast talking about this (TWiP, specifically the interview with Summer Murdock (who I am fan girling over currently)).

  6. What a great post! I need to reflect more on my past work. Somehow it just stays on the computer and rarely gets seen (by me or anyone else).

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