how to self critic your photographs while you are retouching them

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So that’s it : you photograph this really cool picture, you just spent three hours retouching it, and you don’t know what to think about it anymore. Is it good? Is it bad? NO IDEA, you are still hesitating not knowing  if you are a genius who created the masterpiece of the century or if you need to burn your house so the world doesn’t see this abomination! What you know though is that the picture makes no sense anymore, just like a word you repeated too often (That actually happens to me quite often with my photographs!)

This feeling is perfectly normal! (I think) So here are some tips on what I am doing personally to self critic my work, before even showing it to anyone : 

- “Squinching” my eyes so I am blurring the picture I am looking at :

I do it all the time : it allows you really simply to get rid of all the details, to see if the composition of the picture still makes sense. You also have to know to know that your eyes are attracted to the brightest part of a picture : are there too much bright elements on the picture? not enough? a bright part that is catching your attention while it’s not a point we should be focusing on? 

- Take some distance LITTERALY :

I will always put my picture on full screen, get up from my seat, and look at my picture from the other side of the room. I have a 27 inches screen, so it allows me to see it how it would look on a wall if it was a print this size. In a museum, you usually experience a print or a painting from a distance and then you go closer to check the details. If you stay just glued to your screen you will never experience this perspective! 

- Check how it looks on your phone, very small :

I will always ALWAYS screenshot my work even when it is still in progress, and send the picture so I can see it on my phone. (I am sending a message to myself with the picture through Facebook messenger, it’s probably not the best way to do it, but it is simple!) Same here, you are working on a big screen, so you want to see how the picture will look 57 times smaller. Is it worth spending 2 more hours on details? How is the composition? What part of the picture attract your eye? I have at least 4 or 5 version of my “work in progress” pictures on my phone

- Take a break :

You need to come back to your work with some fresh eyes, a fresh mind, and something might jump into your face!

Now that you are happy, you think you’ve done a great job, the composition works, everything looks damn fine to you :

I know you are all excited and you want to share your masterpiece to the world but please GO TO SLEEP (that’s also the moment I recheck the screenshots on my phone!) 

You’ve probably heard about this thing called retinal persistance, or persistance of vision : due to being exposed to light or the same color for a long time, we keep an image that is just like printed in our vision. You can totally see what I mean when you have a flashlight in your eyes and you see a square of light for a few seconds. This thing also occurs when you are retouching your pictures for a long time. So for example, you do your thing, you are quite happy about it, you post it and then it’s the morning : and you realize that DAMN IT’S SO BLUE!! You didn’t see this picture looked WAY too blue the night before because you’ve got used to the color and your eyes compensated for too much blue. But now this is the only thing that you can see!! 

So I will always finish a picture, and the day after I will always have some adjustments to make. ALWAYS. I feel that you can’t skip tho one if you want to get better at color correction. 

All of them are about to change perspective, they are about making tiny adjustments that will make your photograph just perfect. So you are just so proud about it!

I also want to add that the more you will create, the more you will see and be able to judge your work! This is a picture I shot 5 years ago, it is one of my first self portrait ever. I didn’t realize it was SO YELLOW at that time. The skin tone is just so so wrong! Now this is the only thing I can see! So I adjusted it so you can compare how my vision changed and got more subtle :)

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Which one is your favorite picture? Can you judge your work, and other people work easily or do you need more help on this? Tell me EVERYTHING!