Now that I've completed work on my new collection of images - from the Puna de Atacama of Argentina, I feel it's an appropriate time to talk about being one's own critic.
I've mentioned many times before, that I prefer to leave a lot of time between the shoot and the editing. I deliberately hold off sending my films away for immediate processing, and if I were a digital shooter, I would deliberately hold off editing my images for several weeks (preferably more). This I firmly believe gives me distance because with time, I gain a realistic sense of objectivity about what it was I accomplished. Editing straight away I feel does not give me the chance to truly see what the images hold, because I am too close to the work: I tend to suffer from a prejudice, often holding onto ideals of what I hoped the images would be.
Giving some distance to my work allows me also to be a more honest critic of what I've done. In fact, I don't just give myself distance between the shooting and editing stages any more. I do the same thing during the editing as well.
Editing is an iterative process. For each image, I tend to go through a process of edit, then review a day later, do another fine tune edit and leave it for several days then review. If I do any further editing, it is short and then I save them again, and repeat.
The issue is this: in order to edit my work well, I have to be a critic of my own work and to do this, I need to remain objective. The nub of the problem is that I'm only able to be an objective critic for a short while, because the longer I spend on the work, the higher the risk is, that I will become too lost in it. So I tend to review for short spells only. (tip: take note of your first impressions as they are usually right).
Being a good critic of my own work has required me to be able to step 'outside of myself'. This can only happen if I take time off between the edit and review sessions and more importantly, am brief when I do review. I believe a good critic is a short-time one. Don't overwork your work.