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How to critique a photograph
Tutorial Video
How to critique a photograph

Critique is an important part of the learning process, especially in the beginning while you are building a foundation of which to learn upon. The Merirriam-Webster online dictionary defines critique as a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a piece of writing or a work of art).

But, art is so subjective, right? And personal. Sometimes it can be hard to take off the mommy goggles and just look at an image objectively. Fortunately, while the art of photography is subjective, there are rules that apple that most people will agree upon, of which are the technical skills (such as exposure, focus, white balance, and basic composition). When beginning, it is important to have a firm grasp of those skills, so that later, as your skill level increases. And accepting as well as giving feedback can help hone those skills. Then you can really begin to decide if the rules should be broken for your voice to be heard through your art. Breaking the rules is where all of the fun is, right?

During Ultimate Intro to Photography, we focus on helping students build a strong foundation for their photography by offering video feedback. Each student receives video feedback on their assignment images by two professional photographer mentors.

Thank you to two of the Ultimate Intro to Photography spring course students (you know who you are!) for these two gorgeous images and allowing others to learn! I really appreciate your willing to help a girl out!

CC-3_s CC-2_s-2

The following is a simple guideline of how I critique an image technically. You can use these to more subjectively look at your own images or as a way to critique other’s images. Learning to see what is correct (and why) is a tool to becoming a better photographer. And of course after learning the rules, it is always fun to break them too :)

  • No.
    Camera Settings

    Exposure: Is the subject properly exposed? Are there any important blown out areas or underexposed areas?

    Focus: Is the subject in focus? If not, is intended to be out of focus or is it missed focus?

    Color: Is the white balance correct? Too cool, too warm. Color casts?

    Depth of Field: Does it add to the story to take away from the story?


  • No.

    Is the lighting flat? Dappled? Does the type of  lighting used add to the image or is it distracting? And is it intentional? Overall is it cohesive with the feel of the image?

  • No.

    How is the subject framed in the image? Are there any limb chops?Does the composition make the subject more interesting? Does the image follow a compositional rule? If not, would it look better cropped differently? Is there anything in the frame that takes away from the story? Or adds to the story that makes it more compelling?

  • No.

    How does the image make me feel? Do the technical aspects of the image add to this mood (lighting, color, composition, exposure, focus). Does the image capture an emotion? Is there a connection between the photographer and subject? Is there a connection between the viewer and subject?

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  • Rachel
    March 12, 2016 at 9:10 PM

    These are great tips for also doing self-critique (which clearly is more comfortable of newbies like myself!!). Thank you for breaking it down for us!

  • Brenda Trinidad
    March 23, 2016 at 2:30 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing your insight. You challenege me to put into action, the things you share. I feel like I’m learning so much. Thank you.

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