Getting the Most out of Critiques

Submitting Your Work for Critique at PhotographyCorner

First, make sure to include as much information about the shot as possible (film, film speed, aperture, shutter speed, camera, lens, filters, shooting mode, etc).

If you’re asking specific help in an area, submit it to the Feedback Corner and point out the area of concern or question. People assume that a work in the Critiques Corner is finished work and, as such, will give critique with that in mind. If it’s not a picture that you’re real proud of, perhaps the Feedback Corner or the Corner Photo Galleries is better suited. If you’re asking specific help in an area, submit it to the Feedback Corner and point out the area of concern or question.

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Comments on the emotional impact, the crop, composition, and subject matter are very subjective and should be taken with that in mind. Not everyone will like every picture you take or agree with the composition you chose. You may or may not agree with the comments and that’s OK. Then again, someone may give you a fresh way to view your scenes that you hadn’t considered.

Remember that we have photographers at all levels of skill as members here. Some of them are very well versed on what makes a good image and others are merely expressing a reaction to how they feel about a shot. Take comments on board, but don’t let them upset you or get under your skin. If you don’t agree with a comment, smile and say thanks.

Critiquing Someone Else’s Work at PhotographyCorner

First, remember that critiques are meant to be thoughtful and helpful replies to an individual’s work. A critique can be positive as well as pointing out weakness or faults in the photo. Critique does not necessarily mean criticize. A critique should give the photographer insight as to how others view the work, be it favorable or not.

Honest feedback is a useful aid for the photographer to learn and progress: if no-one points out possible problems, we all carry on doing the same thing forever, instead of working out ways to improve. On the other hand, positive feedback provides for confidence building and reinforces success.

Remember that we have photographers at all levels of skill here. Do not assume that you know more than they, nor that they are aware of the elements of photography. Structure your comments such that you do not appear condescending or presumptive. Similarly, do not feel as if you’re not qualified to offer opinion. Since it is difficult to critique your own work, fresh eyes are often invaluable. You may find that critiquing others improves your own skills by providing you the opportunity to analyze a photo and express what does and does not work for you.

Ideas to consider when critiquing

Technical Aspects:

  • Is the photo properly focused? Is the depth of field appropriate for the scene? Is the entire scene out of focus indicating possible camera shake?
  • Is the exposure correct? Improper color, washed out colors, and low contrast can all point to poor exposures.
  • Are the shadows and highlights properly recorded so that details are not lost? Don’t get hung up on maintaining detail in both shadows and highlights as it is often impossible to capture both without manipulation. Consider the scene and be reasonable in expectations.
  • Is the focal length appropriate for the scene? Might an alternate choice have made a better picture?
  • Does the image appear over sharpened or display significant jpg artifacts?
  • Is grain or noise apparent and does it diminish the results? Perhaps the grain enhances the image.

Aesthetic Issues:

  • Does the composition please your eye? While there are many rules of composition, don’t get too hung up on them that you can’t see when breaking them works.
  • Does your eye wander around aimlessly or did the photography compose the shot in such a way that leads your eye to the subject?
  • Is there an identifiable subject? Did the photographer effectively simplify the subject? Remember, not all scenes will have a single subject (landscapes often do not).
  • Does the background clutter the scene or define it?
  • Did important elements get cut off in the framing or crop?
  • Is there too much or too little background to subject ratio?
  • Are there obvious things the photographer missed in the background (a telephone pole growing out of grandma’s head is the classic error).
  • Is the horizon level for shots that include rivers, lakes, oceans?
  • Do buildings lean abnormally or seem out of perspective?
  • Does the photo tell a story, invoke emotion, or just leave you empty? Tell the photographer how you feel about the image. Remember though: Just because you’re not interested in the subject doesn’t mean that the photographer found it interesting.

Hopefully, we can all learn from each other, whether we are submitting our work for review or critiquing someone else’s work.