This is actually the second meta question about Looking for feedback! Am I ready to take photography to the next level?. The other meta question focuses on the "starting a business" aspect. But, I think at its heart (and especially based on comments and edits from the original author) the question really is asking for critique of the portfolio.

I'm definitely in favor of opening up more to questions about and even critique of individual photographs. But I'm not sure what to do about the whole slate of photos thing. A question about a specific aspect of a photo like How to capture the scale of a scene? can help not just one person, but also many other people later (like this).

We've got some great questions like How to compose such that the context does not overpower the subject? and Is composition after capture against any traditional photography rules? which have answers that can be read by someone not interested in that specific photo and still be educational.

I'm not sure that's really the case with "is my portfolio of professional quality?" At best, someone might submit a followup of "okay, well, how about mine?"

How should we handle these?

  • 1
    There isn't any indication in the question that there is anything in particular the OP wants to improve. It came across as a general call for comments about how good the photos are. The rest is a yes/no question for which there is insufficient information. It is also entirely personal and subjective. The only one who can answer whether anyone is ready for anything is the person who needs to be ready. – xiota Oct 9 at 21:15
  • This reminds me of this question which spawned this kind of answer. – Andrew T. Oct 10 at 7:39

TL;DR: We should be more guarded about portfolio reviews than about individual photo critiques.

Stipulate: well-crafted questions about a photoset, sequence, portfolio, etc., along the lines of "I'm trying to convey [X] with this series/portfolio by doing/emphasizing [Y]. Which of these photos don't help me do that / are lacking / are weaker than the others...", are probably just fine and don't need more discussion here.

The problem with portfolio reviews is that it's a multiplying effect of the general "too broad" or open-ended discussion problem that always lurks around the corner with possibly-good-subjective-but-not-well-asked critique questions. Poorly asked questions about a single image that are "workshopped" after several answers exist, causing those answers to be awkwardly edited, deleted, or even just abandoned in place, are not what we're looking for. Now imagine that problem, but exacerbated by the quantity of images in a portfolio review question.

Let's not forget that the Stack Exchange platform is not only not good at threaded discussion, it's specifically and purposely BAD at them. When we're not careful about helping craft bad critique questions into mediocre ones, or mediocre ones into good ones, etc., we generate a lot of back-and-forth in comments to the question or its answers. I'm always in favor of guidelines and community rules that encourage contributors to minimize the number of comments that need to be kept around.

Ideally, there would be some sort of "probationary hold period" for newer users asking photo critiques (including portfolio critiques), to help us help that user craft their post into really good questions that generate really good answers. Fortunately, that exists: Vote to Close as Unclear what you're asking. It sucks that the action is labeled as Close instead of Temporarily Put On Hold, because that's what a vote to close actually does.

If we, as active readers, reviewers, and editors, wield the Put On Hold Pending Clarifying Open-ended or Unclear Issues voting power to consistent use, I think we can have exactly what we want: a good body of good-subjective questions. We just have to be more purposeful and more engaging in the question comments about trying to help the poster craft the question into better shape.

tl;dr - we should allow them.

The composition after capture question was revised/edited 9 times! As a community, I think that we do a good job of guiding new users into making great questions. Granted, this didn't start as a portfolio review - but I don't see why we can't guide reviews into addressing single images at a time.

But, we also do a good job of shooting things down, and rather quickly. In my limited time here, I've been tempted to repost a question (more to site standards) after a new user was run off, simply because I thought the question had merit.

So, I don't see why we can't take portfolio review questions and spend more time in guiding them into site appropriate questions. The key word here: guiding. If this opens up photo.se into a more subjective world (I can feel the SO guys bristling), well, that's worth it. We're an artistic based site - we should be all about the good-subjective questions.

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