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What to Consider When Writing a Photography Critique

Updated on May 17, 2013
Temples in Kathmandu
Temples in Kathmandu | Source

Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, you certainly share your works on photo sharing sites such as Flickr and deviantART, or photography websites. Purpose of sharing photographs is to market your work or get critiques. As a member of these sites, you would perhaps want to write a photography critique.

Many people mix critique with criticize. Critique means to analyze whereas criticize means to condemn. A good critique is a balanced review of a work, which includes good points and bad points. Some people are infuriated when you point out bad things. However, the people who are passionate about their work are not afraid to hear bad comments, because they are always trying to improve their skills. Someone who is serious about photography may not agree with the critique, but he/she will definitely acknowledge the critic.

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Qualities of a Good Photography Critic

  • Does not make the photographer feel uncannily good or bad
  • Gives constructive criticism
  • Analyzes good points and bad points
  • Gives detailed analysis
  • Shows genuine interest in photography
  • Knows about the technicalities of photography
  • Does not simply say very good or very bad, but gives obvious reasons
  • Does not pass hasty judgments
  • Evaluates the work thoroughly
  • Is aware about different kinds of photography such as on location photography, silhouette photography etc.

How to Write a Photography Critique

You can publish your photography critiques on photography sites, photo sharing sites or even on the niche content sites like HubPages. A photography critique is not only helpful for the photographer, but also helps you grow as a writer. By writing a photography critique, you gain the knowledge of photography. If you are a beginner, you might feel insufficient to evaluate a professional’s work. In such situation, instead of analyzing the technical aspects, evaluate the composition and the mood of the photo.

As a critique, you must tell the photographers what they are at best and what needs improvement. Actually, there can never be right or wrong photo, it is a matter of personal opinion. Some may like the photo where the subject is directly looking at the camera, where as some prefers the subject looking away. It is just a matter of the photographer’s style. Even though photography critique may address a photo or couple of photos, it is more about analyzing photographer’s ability to capture pictures, and his/her development as a photographer.

A photography critique interprets different elements of the photo, and evaluates the meaning it is trying to convey. Begin your critique by explaining what you see in the photo. Then move to the technical correctness, artistic impression and then composition. The conclusion should include the tips on improving photography, as well as strength and weakness of the photographer.

When you critique someone’s work and he/she begins to argue, never again critique his/her work. While writing critique, always take in mind the photographer’s ability to receive criticism.

Lake in Koshi Tappu National Park in Nepal
Lake in Koshi Tappu National Park in Nepal | Source

Qualities of a Good Photography Critique

A photography critique…

  • Is balanced with good points and bad points
  • Encourages the photographer to take even better shots
  • Shows in-depth evaluation
  • Reviews the works in different angles and perspectives
  • Analyzes the art factor in the photo
  • Evaluates the framing, symmetry, layout, cropping, subject positioning etc.
  • Examines color, lighting and exposure

Writing a Photography Critique: Points to Remember

  • Evaluate the photo in its entirety such as angle, symmetry, composition, lighting, etc.
  • Don’t make judgments based on the first impression. Study the visual elements and draw a conclusion.
  • In your critique, explain all the visual elements in the photo. What is the dominant mood in the photo? What kind of emotion does the photo evoke? Is the photo aesthetically pleasing?
  • Analyze technical components such as contrast, focus, depth of the field, aperture etc.
  • Analyze the subject and the object, foreground and the background.
  • Understand the lighting. Does the photo need fill light or bounce light, perhaps, it would have looked better if flash had been fired.
  • Tell about the good things first. Instead of saying these are bad points in your work, you can say these areas need improvement.
  • Make notes of what you liked in the photo are what your dislikes are. Be specific and don’t repeat what you have already said.
  • See if there are any technical distractions in the photo such as focus, depth of the field, white balance etc.

Technical aspects of photography

Exposure: Analyze overexposed and underexposed area. Is the bright area contrasting with the dark area?

Focus: Evaluate the subject in focus. Has the sharp focus done justice to the photo, or soft focus would have been better.

Depth of Field: What kind of depth of the filed has the photographer applied? Will the photo look better if shallow depth of field was used instead of deep depth of the field?

Lighting: What kind of lighting is used in the photo? Is it harsh or soft?

White balance: Does the photo have yellow, green or blue color cast? Try to see if the white balance does justice to the photo.

What to Consider When Writing a Photography Critique

Composition of the photo

Center: The subject is in the center, or occupies the entire frame? Will the photo look better it the subject is positioned differently?

The Rule of Thirds: Has the rule of the thirds in the photo done justice to the subject. Will it look better if it had been composed differently?

Foreground and Background: Does the photo have blurred background? Will it look better if the background had been in focus or well lit?

Cropping: Does the photo have empty space? Or, is it tightly cropped leaving important things out of the frame?

Tonal Range: What kind of color is dominant in the photo, is it primary, secondary, complementary, or vivid? If it is a black and white photo, is there truly black and white, or has grayish or yellowish tint?

Bangkok Street
Bangkok Street | Source

The rule of the thirds is appropriately applied in the photo. The photographer has nicely captured the traffic on the street. Framing and composition is good. However, the foreground is underexposed. If the photographer had used light on the foreground, the photo would have looked better.

Group photo
Group photo | Source

The camera angle is interesting. The photographer has used natural light to capture brightly lit subjects. However, the subjects in the photo are looking differently, which rather distracts the viewer. The Photo could have been better if the background had been blurred or people removed from the background.

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    • profile image

      Skava 5 months ago

      Please can u help me to critique 2 pictures

    • profile image

      Bob 2 years ago

      Great place to get and give www.shuttercritic.com

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      What to Consider When Writing a Photography Critique is an informative and useful hub indeed, you have given me more to think about here.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi there, I loved this post! I have a little point and shoot camera which is still in its box, I need to upload the CD that comes with it, which has all the FAQ and so on. I need more TIME! I've never really pointed a camera at anything, but I certainly plan to learn something about this. I think I will eventually get set up and then come back to read articles such as this one! So thanks for writing it! Voted Up, and UAI, also shared! See you!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      @Marcoujor, I have published photographs and haiku. You give me a new idea to create haiga. Thanks for the inspiration.

      @Teaches, I am not a photography critic, but there are wonderful critics around. Thanks for reading.

      @Tillsontitan, some of the critique rules are same in different art form. Thanks for appreciating my works.

      @Mary, the best camera is the one you have with you is the mantra of photography. Thanks for always being around.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      I'd like to become better at photographing. I just have a little cheapie digital cameral and just point and shoot! Your photos are always great.

      Voted UP and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Your theories on photography critiquing can be applied to any form of critiquing. It is NOT criticism, but certainly analyzing and it can apply to any work from photography to poetry.

      All of your photographs are outstanding, whether they are in one of your photography hubs or poems, or whatever. You are certainly a photographer Vinaya and we love your photos as well as your hubs.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      You have given me lots to think about when taking photos. I didn't know there were people who were critiques. You certainly know your topic well.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Vinaya,

      I was drawn to this as your photography is some of the finest on HP.

      I do certainly believe your work is ripe for haiga poetry.

      My only negative about your professional, expressive and authentic photography is that I always want more...! Voted UP and UABI.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Faith

      Billy

      Peggy

      Livingsta

      bydojo

      Thank you very much for leaving your comments. I appreciate your inputs.

      Cheers

    • bydojo profile image

      Ramona Jar 4 years ago from Romania

      Giving feedback is really difficult, since you could make the photographer feel bad. Your advice is great though. With these pointers we can critique and, hopefully, still have the receiver feel good about his work.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is good advice Vinaya. As you've said, there is a thick line between critiques and criticizing. Thank you for sharing this with us.

      Have a good weekend!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Vinaya,

      I once took a portrait photography class back before there was digital photography. Each week we had to shoot so many photos of a "model"...oftentimes I used my husband for my homework, good guy that he was to be my subject matter!...get them developed...and then the teacher would critique all of our work. I did learn some things from taking the class.

      If one is learning, one should be open to receiving critiques...or how else can one improve? We had fun in that class and got to view everyone's photos that they had taken each week.

      Interesting subject for a hub!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well you know your stuff my friend. I did not know there were photography critics. :) Great insights here, Vinaya.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Very insightful hub here. Yes, it would be very difficult to critique photographers who are not open to any type of critiscim, even if it is constructive. That is very good advice to not critique them ever gain!

      Save yourself the headache and waste of time no doubt!

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

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