8 things to do right while asking for feedback

1000 Days Content Challenge

Feedback is important! Asking someone feedback means that you are confident enough to have your work critiqued. More important, it means you’re willing to make changes to the way you work or live to get one step closer to excellence.
Before you ask for an opinion, be sure to have carefully thought out these eight pointers:

1.Are you asking the right person?

I’m a wedding photographer who gets a lot of review requests from landscape photographers! You know what’s not right about that? If the theme of your pictures is wildlife reach out to someone who is in that space. While the technique might be the same, there will be hacks specific to your space and subject that only an expert in that field will know. A wedding photographer will be able to tell you how to shoot human subjects not the ones in the wild.

2. How many pictures should you send?

That’s the golden number. Why? Because it’s just enough to not waste your time and theirs. It’s enough for them to ask you for more if they are keen. It is the right number to show that you respect their time. It means you will choose the best and not just drown them in all your experiments.

3. When should you ask?

I can tell you from experience that this is the worst conversation starter. Tame your temptation to ask them as soon as you hear their name. Befriend them, have an amiable conversation and then ask if they would be kind enough to review your work.
If you are short of time, then a powerful elevator speech is your best bet. Once you have delivered it, and got them interested, ask for feedback.

4. Is there something like a good time?

YES! It’s obvious, but most people overlook this part. If the person is important enough, then try investing some time to understand their day. For instance, if the person you are asking is a morning person, send an early morning email request to review your work. Your email will be on top of all the others and may be actioned quickly. Maybe. Just maybe. Keep your fingers away from the phone and computer for another one week. They may be busy or have a lot of travelling. Calling them and messaging them every two days may put them off.

5. Err…Uh….What’s the best way to ask?

‘I would love your feedback’ means you let your reviewer off easy. All they will say is, ‘Your portfolio is interesting, there are great pictures and I wish you luck’. If you are really looking for feedback, then ask specific questions. You’ll get the answer you really want when you use a question like “How can I improve my composition in this picture?” than when you ask “How can I get better?” Specific questions also mean you’ll make it easier for them to talk because it’s a subject they love.

6. Is there a good format?

Simple. A password-free one click link of your 20 pictures straight into their inbox. No attachment, Google Drive link, Instagram profile or Facebook page. Put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer. It’s your responsibility to make it really easy for them to just look at your pictures in just one click.

7. Can you tell me how you got the colours in your picture?

Ah! I love sharing. I honestly doubt a whole year’s worth of algebra can be explained simply in just one page. Similarly, I can’t explain the entire intricacies of techniques over a call or an email. Request for time from the reviewer, ask if you could discuss in person. If they give you their time, treat it really carefully and go with specific observations and questions. If they don’t, be happy you had the courage to ask and you had nothing to lose.

8. Bro-zoning a reviewer?

You might love my work, you might have been following me for a long time, you might even feel like you know me and we have been friends for the longest time. Trust me, nothing puts off anyone more than a Hi Bro email. The latest trend is not even an email but a casual message on social media saying, “Hey Bro please let me know what you think”. Nothing about the mode or the style tells me you are serious, so off goes your message into the will-not-respond heap.

Do you know why feedback is so tricky? Because, time taken to review and draft a reply is a very valuable service. And, you are asking it for free! Be mindful of how you ask and be perfectly okay if you don’t get a reply. It’s not personal. Revisit what you could have done better – fixed typos, chosen a different mode, ask a different person or any such thing.
One part of feedback is the asking, the other part is the honesty in the giving. Read here about how giving delicate feedback made me feel like a coward and how I reverted to giving fearless reviews.

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