What to Consider When Writing a Photography Critique: Tips on Writing a Critique or Review

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.

Has anyone picked a bone with your critique?


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.

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?

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.

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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