Auribins PRO 11:02am, 7 March 2015

Many people, when first joining a photo critique site, may not know where to begin when writing a critique. Some amateur photographers may even feel that they are not "worthy" to critique a professional's work. The fact is, it doesn't matter whether you are just staring out or are a seasoned professional, there are many different aspects of a photo that you can comment on. If you don't feel that you have a handle on the technical aspects of photography, then just comment on the composition, the story, or the emotional feeling behind the photo.

Remember, writing critiques is beneficial not only for the photographer whose work you are critiquing, but it is tremendously helpful to you, the critique writer. By thinking about all the different aspects of what makes a photo "good" or "poor", you are adding to your own knowledge base to be used when it is you pressing the shutter!

Below is a basic guide to point you in the general direction of how to write a critique, and give you some things that you can look for when writing your critiques. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of every aspect of photography. You don't have to touch on all of these categories. Even writing a sentence or two covering just one of these categories can be tremendously helpful to both you and the photographer seeking feedback.

1. Critique topics

Is any area overexposed or underexposed? If so, can you say why you think that happened? How could the photographer prevent this problem in the future?

Is the main subject in focus? Is it sharp focus, or a "soft" focus? Is the point of focus appropriate for the situation?

Depth of Field (DOF)
Is the DOF shallow or deep? Does the DOF work in this shot, or should more (or less) of the photo be in focus?

Lighting / White balance.
Is the light soft or harsh? Does the type of lighting enhance or detract from the subjects in the photo? Is the white balance set correctly? Is there a yellow, orange, or green cast to the photo?

2. Critique the composition.

“Centred” vs. "Rule of Thirds"
Is the main subject in the centre of the frame? Is it on a third or somewhere else? Does the chosen composition work, or would you have framed it differently?

Fore, Middle, and Backgrounds.
(Most applicable to landscape photos) Does the photo contain all three? If not, do you think it would be better if it did?

Is there negative, empty space within the photo and if so does it help? Should the crop have been tighter? Is it cropped so tightly that important parts of the photo have been cut off?

Colour / Tonal Range
What type of colours do you see? Did the photographer use a lot of primary colours?
Are the colours too vivid? Not vivid enough? If you are looking at a B&W photo, is there a true black, true white, with a large tonal range in between, or is the photo too "grey"?

Diagonals, S-Curves, etc
Did the photographer make use of any visually-interesting elements, such as diagonal lines or S-curves?

Lead in lines.
Do the lines and overall composition make you want to look deeper into the photo? Is your eye drawn into the photo, or does your eye wander out of it?

Dark vs. light areas
Are there too many bright areas? Too many dark areas?

Is the photo "balanced"? Would it be better if there were other objects or other light/dark areas in the frame to improve the balance? If the photo is off balance, is there a reason for it?

3. How does it make you feel?

Even if you are a beginner, you are certainly qualified to critique based on these questions:

What mood do you see in the photo?

Do you think this mood is what the photographer intended?

Does it make you happy, sad or angry?

Did the photographer succeed in telling his/her story with the photograph? Why or why not?

Do you like the photo and more importantly, say WHY you like the photo, or why you don't.

Would you hang this photo on your wall? Why or why not?
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