When Asking for Feedback…
When you asking your friends/colleagues for feedback on some recent work, some might say, “I like it.” Your natural reaction would probably be elation or some sort of joy. But do you ever ask them why do they like? Do you ever ask them to articulate what exactly about the image strikes them as making it stronger or weaker. If the person giving you the feedback is a young man, does he simply like the image b/c there’s an attractive or gorgeous woman in the image, or vice versa for a woman giving you feedback on an image containing a guy. Some of your colleagues also might not know how to give constructive feedback and are scared to give you bad news. So keep that in mind.
Sometimes, I’ll ask my friends for feedback. Some will simply give me a thumbs as they are busy with their own lives and responsibilities and simply do not have the time. Sometimes, an individual will give feedback like, “The image needs more contrast” or “Eh… I don’t really like, but I don’t know why.” When you receive feedback like this, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind, like the following:
*Do they or have they studied a lot of visual arts? … Obviously, a learned person’s opinion, with a refined eye, should hold more water than some random friend who only reads TV Guide. There can be a lot of people with great visual eyes who do not study visual arts, but, if I may use an analogy: you’re not going to ask your friend, who is not a doctor, to diagnose an injury or health condition. You’ll take their opinion into consideration, but you’re not going to do anything drastic.
*Is their monitor calibrated? … Monitor’s colors tend to shift over time and sometimes can produce colors that are a little off. My guess is that 99% of your friends do not have calibrated monitors, unless they are a visual arts professional. Also, if their monitor is not calibrated it will affect how black they perceive the color black to really be.
*The room in which they viewed your recent work, was it well lit/sunny or was it dark? … If it’s a sunny/bright room, chances are that they have a yellow-ish color cast in their room which will alter their perception of the images on the screen. If is darker, there is less likelihood of color casts on their screen. (Think about the movie theater, they’re always dark.)
*Who is your audience? Think about the work you are presenting. Where does it fit, commercially, artistically? … If you’re seeking feedback from a group of guy friends who only read Maxim or Playboy, chances are that are not going to be best people to consult, if your images have nothing but men in them (i.e. your guy friends only like looking at half naked girls).
*What kind of work do they personally enjoy? … So, I have a friend who consistently provides feedback. They’re great. They take the time to write an email and say something about each image. One time, they were particularly critical. While I valued their feedback and I wanted to adjust to fit their liking, I realized that I did not not know where they were coming from. Basically, where did their natural visual taste reside. Again, back to the analogy of guys who only read magazines with half naked women on the cover, still holds true here. Another example would be: if they are big fans of Ansel Adams, then you can probably say that they are a fan of contrasty, black and white, landscape images. I also have another friend who loves bright, happy, lifestyle kind of images, so when they provide feedback that’s critical, I know what they gravitate towards and what they would enjoy more. Having that knowledge allows you to better understand and appreciate the feedback that you are receiving.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, seek the feedback of your friends and colleagues, but take it with a grain of salt, as there are a number of factors contribute to their visual experience. And remember the good ole saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” …. It’s your work, make it what you want it to be.