How to critique a photograph and how to learn from critique.

For many of us, as soon as we take our camera out of the box we want to take photographs-lots of photographs! We take a glance at the manual and try and figure out how to to turn the camera on, we switch the dial to auto and away we go….

After a while you wonder why your pictures are not looking as good as the pictures on the camera box and camera commercials. Your photos of the kids are bury, the pictures of your friends wedding came out with some crazy shadows and for your first real photo shoot-nothing looks right.
You look on the internet and realize you have to start using the other modes on your camera, the ones that let you take full control. After a lot of reading and  learning your taking all you are pictures in full manual mode and you know you are improving, friends and family love your pictures so you decide to put your picture to a photo forum or online photo group and ask for some other opinions.
Some people tell you your picture is cute, other people tell you it sucks, and a few people tell you the good parts, the bad parts, and how to improve the bad parts, it is those people who help you the most, they offer a good critique!

In December 2008 I posted this photograph for critique on a photography forum

Here is one of the critiques:

  • Cute shot Rachel, my suggestions:
    – Warmer suits the outdoors & friendly nature of this shot
    – Crop out more of the sky, it’s overexposed and distracts from the subjects.
I like this kind of critique because it points out something positive “cute shot” even if cute shot is the nicest thing they can say because everything about it sucks, they find the good points and point them out, and they explain what is bad and how to fix it.
If someone asks for a critique always look carefully at the photograph, think about what you would do differently if it was your photo, how does it compare to your favourite photographer, what do you think your favourite photographer would do differently? For me receiving and even giving critiques while I was still learning helped me greatly. Listen to what the viewers of the photographs have to say, then act on it.If you don’t agree with a certain critique that is fine, but consider the photographer who is critiquing you, are they experienced? is their work awesome?  Do you respect their skills? If you can say yes to those questions, more than likely you should listen to what they have to say. Nothing wrong with justifying a few things, but if you decide to justify why the photograph came out  the way it did and find a reason and say everything in the shot was intentional, you better be an experienced, well paid, well published photographer your self…
(the original post was posted on my own blog, but I thought it may be useful over here too!)

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