Learn how to critique photos with these 5 tips (2023)

Raise your hands if your photos have been criticized before. If so, do you remember getting feedback that wasn't all that useful? Maybe it's because the person giving the feedback didn't understand your situation. Or maybe they didn't understand what you wanted to show. criticizingphotographsis a skill, so take a look at the tips below that will help you critique photos.

Sometimes people would say statements like "It's nice" or "It's okay" without explaining why they like it or why they see it that way. But there are also those who want to know and ask why you took the shot and why you decided to shoot it like that before they give their two cents.

As critics, don't we all want to know how to improve our craft? Don't want to hear why your photo works, why it doesn't work, and what you can do to make it work next time? There are different types of criticism, some more helpful than others.

While there is no right or wrong way to provide criticism, it is important to realize that most people would like to receive feedback that they can take home and add to their learning. This type of feedback can, in one way or another, help improve a photographer's shooting considerations, and if you're someone who enjoys giving feedback, then make sure you're doing it right!

Learn how to critique photos with these 5 tips (1)

Photo criticism as a skill

Giving criticism is a skill in itself and part of the learning process for the recipient. Unfortunately, not all photographers take the time to critique more effectively. However, this is perfectly fine as it is a personal choice to be made. Again, criticism is a skill, and skill improves over time with the right knowledge and continued practice.

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Then how should we criticize?

According to the Dictionary, criticism means: "evaluate (a theory or practice) in detail and analytically.According to Merriam Webster, criticism means:give an opinion on the good and bad sides of (something).

There is a detailed photo reviewvaluationof a photograph, the key activity in criticism is analysis. It doesn't consider whether feedback is negative or positive, it's simply an analysis of what works and what doesn't.

Criticism often leads to negative feedback on an image, since errors are often more noticeable than positives. Good feedback can also be given, although compliments are usually given when something in an image is strikingly outstanding.

Learn how to critique photos with these 5 tips (2)

So if we want to improve the photo critique ability, there are things we can consider.

Here are five things to keep in mind when critique photos:

1. Criticism with the intent to help

There is no better way to criticize than with good intentions. That way you can be objective while pointing out what can beenhanced in a particular photo.

It's true that the truth can hurt and that negative feedback is sometimes necessary, but everyone is capable of receiving feedback that will help them get better. That's exactly why people want criticism for their work, right? They would want to see how they can progress. Dealing with criticism in a helpful way is indeed valuable for the photographer.

2. Provide a “why” when commenting on the technique

While it's okay to comment on the technique, be careful how you do it. Because some are more experienced than others, those with lesser skills can get lost in translation. If possible, try to explain why one should follow a certain technique, because not knowing the how is not very useful.

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For example, you can say to someone:"I think this photo doesn't apply the rule of thirds. You should use the rule of thirds.”While this can be helpful, it's only a temporary approach as it doesn't really help the photographer assess the situation and improve their workflow. Instead, when commenting on the technique, mention why a particular technique works better.

For example,"I immediately see this flower as your main element, but since it's positioned in the center, my eyes wander to the sides and I get distracted by things around it. Try using the rule of thirds so the focus is limited to the flower and you get fewer distractions.”. Knowing why something works helps the photographer adjust their shot next time.

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Some other technical information that you can criticize is:

  • camera settingsin terms of exposure (this includes changing aperture and shutter speed for creative photography)
  • sharp focus- Find the focus in the right place or subject for meaningful images
  • depth of field(DoF)- See what DoF (shallow or deeper) would work for the scene captured or the story they are trying to tell
  • mood– is the right mood to relate to the story, to go with the emotions in the photo
  • white balance– it represents the right mood, colors and time of day or light under which the picture was taken
  • Measurement - View and provide feedback on what measurement could have been used depending on the light in the scene
  • lighting– is the light dull, flat and dull, is it high in contrast, is it soft, does it work for the story or scene being photographed, does the photographer have or can use light creatively, e.g. B. dappled light, light and shadow, etc.
  • composition- Check out what composition guidelines to follow or what can be applied to create compelling images.
  • contrast and colors – Check the colors or contrast in the images to see if there is anything that can be done to improve the image quality

3. Avoid personal bias

Your personal needs can stand in the way of effective photo criticism. Remember, critiques of photos aren't about you, they're about helping the person who asked for feedback.

A photographer with a strong interest inHDRwill likely want a lot of contrast and dynamic range in their images. Sometimes they find that an image with just enough contrast needs to have more.

On the other hand, a purist who doesn't like post-processing might find a surreal-looking landscape photo very unnatural and say it's better to leave it untouched.

Here is another example:

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"It's a bad photo because it looks too sad and dark. It's better if the photo is about happy moments and the model is smiling instead of frowning.“

Do you have your own prejudices? It's important to be aware of them in order to be more objective when criticizing.

4. Avoid changing the message

Not all suggestions are helpful. Some can be confusing at times, even when the intentions are good. For example, if you ask a photographer to do itcrop a photo, there is a risk of altering the message the photographer is trying to convey. Does that mean proposing to harvest is a bad thing? Certainly not. The elements in a frame are there to create an idea. Cropping doesn't necessarily change the message, but removing and even adding key elements in a frame does.

Look at the photo below and try to understand the message of the picture. Do you have an answer?

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Here's mine: a bunch of kids racing while mom and youngest siblings cheer. Did you come up with the same or a similar idea?

Now what if someone gives such a criticism? - "I think this would be better if you cropped the photo closer and just focus on the kid on the right.” Let's imagine it would have been a better shot if the shooter had followed the suggestion. But what would happen to the message then? The problem is that the solution completely changed the photographer's entire concept.

In the same way, when you say it's better to shoot wider, higher or lower, it can mean addelementswho weren't there before, which in turn can change the message. What if too much clutter has been added to the image as a result of our suggestion?

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Therefore, it is best to consider the photographer's intention and our lack of information about the shooting situation. This will help us avoid making unnecessary assumptions that are unhelpful when making criticisms.

5. Avoid short statements that don't provide direction

Let's face it, we did, or at least most of us did. statements like"It's nice","It is wonderful","It works for me"are nice to hear, but can be too little. If the photographer doesn't just want a compliment and not a criticism, you should give more information.

What if someone told you"I don't like this photo","It is confusing", or"It's terrible"? Aside from wanting to unfriend her on Facebook, now you're wondering what's wrong with your photo. Don't you want to know why they think that way?

Give the photographer a direction to take by providing insight into why a photo works or why it doesn't.

Comment what you see or feel –"The photo has onenice balancein color, the blur in the background really emphasizes the subject.”, or"DieStoreof the face would look better showing the other ear because it feels like the person only has one ear.”. It can be simple like"the picture feels tilted"or“I am distracted by the objects behind the subject”.

Learn how to critique photos with these 5 tips (5)

Benefits of a good review:

  • As a photographer, providing critiques for photos can be the best place to start conversations and build relationshipscommunity.
  • Giving feedback also helps the person criticizing the criticism learn more by analyzing photos and asking questions. You will also learn from other photographers' criticisms and gain knowledge and ideas that will then lead to improving your own photographic skills.
  • You help other photographers grow and build a positive relationship.

Some tips for criticizing photos:

  • Look at the photo and give feedback based on the scenario and not in general. If the picture was taken in difficult lighting conditions, let them know how well they worked on the shot while also offering suggestions on what could have been done for a better output.
  • If you criticize in certain forums or know the photographer and his pst works, don't forget to mention how much they have improved.
  • When criticizing photos, always be sensitive to the words and language you use.
  • Honest criticism requires a few minutes to view, understand, and analyze a photo before providing feedback. If you don't understand something, always ask the photographer about their intentions and reasons for taking a certain picture in this way.
  • Don't just tell them what's wrong with a photo, tell them how it can be improved.
  • Instead of giving general advice, always be specific and to the point. Say what works and what doesn't. If you know of groups, communities, and other resources that help the photographer, point them there.
  • Provide critiques on both the technical and artistic aspects of the photo.
  • Keep your feedback constructive and not destructive while providing critiques for the photographer to help them grow in this area. This will also help the enquirer to develop their own photography critique skills.

Giving criticism is indeed the art of giving advice. Being able to look at things objectively to assess an image in detail is an invaluable resource. It is helpful for those looking for direction to develop their skills. At the same time, it is a way to better understand photography.

Do youGive or receive feedback on images? What types of feedback have you received and what are your experiences - good and bad? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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