I have been doing photography for about 10 years. In that time I have moved from hobbiest film shooter to professional commercial photographer. This is what helped me make the leap.
If, like me, your aim is to become a professional photographer, or you want your work to be seen by the general public, then trying to impress other photographers is not the way to go. This is not to say that a critical review from a photographer isn’t important, but far more important than the view of the photographer is that of the art buyer or consumer.
What Is the Difference?
While a photographer might be impressed with your medium-format camera or 20 lights set up all perfectly balanced, they are not who the image is intended for. If we take food photography as an example (I am a food photographer), then we need to look at what makes a great food photograph.
For a photographer, it might be the perfect composition, great dynamic range, sharpness and detail, and perhaps the complexity of the lighting that impresses them. To a consumer, they want to see the food looking amazing or for the overall feel of the image to engage with them. Of course, our concerns help achieve this, but as photographers, we often lose sight of the bigger picture and we become obsessed with the technicalities of the art. The consumer, however, is interested in the image as a whole. They would much rather a basic one light set up and the food looks amazing than having something extremely complex at the cost of the food.
We have probably all had a similar realization with portraits. I reach for my fancy camera to take a portrait at a wedding, the subject later takes a selfie and they publish the selfie on social media. Most photographers would prefer my image, but the image they have taken portrays them exactly how they wish to be seen. It's their preferred angle, lighting, and poses. As a portrait photographer, focusing on that rather than technical lighting, postproduction, and camera gear would serve us much better.
So What Is My Point?
During a recent workshop of soon to be pros, hobbyists, and pros who are new to the field, I found a lot of very interesting and useful technical questions being asked, but throughout the session, no one asked what the viewer would prefer. The questions were geared toward what was technically better.
In order to sell more, be seen by more people, and to make a career in photography, I think it is really important to read around the subject. Of course, we need to know about the technicalities of photography, but it should be applied with the buyer or consumer in mind. Most people who book photographers are not photographers.
To sum up my ramblings, I encourage you to go away and work out what the consumers of your images want to see, rather than what other photographers want to see.