After shooting, the most interesting part of the junkyard night photography workshops is the afternoon critique. On day 2, each participant brings 4 images to review with the group. In a supportive environment, my co-instructor Troy Paiva and I talk about what worked, and offer ideas for improvement. Seeing how different photographers approach the wide array of subject matter in the junkyard is always a great learning experience.
As we’ve built relationships with the photographers who’ve attend our workshops multiple times, our critique methods have evolved. Many photographers find that the feedback loop on the first night’s shooting can lead to breakthroughs on the 2nd or 3rd night of the workshop. A few people have asked us for stronger critiques, in order to accelerate the learning process.
A request for a stronger critique lets us know that the photographer isn’t worried about having their feelings hurt, and that we shouldn’t sugar-coat any criticisms of their work. We can be blunt about discussing any shortcomings in the images. At first, we were surprised that some accomplished photographers were asking us to let them have it in front of the group. This humbleness and desire to learn were so impressive, that we’ve added a new option for our critique sessions.
3 Winners and a Dud
This new critique option is called 3 Winners and a Dud. Instead of bringing their 4 best images, participants could optionally bring their 3 best, plus 1 that didn’t work. And a lot of times we collectively learn the most from the dud. Removing roadblocks by reconceptualising a really frustrating setup can often free people up to do better work.