Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Critique guide for beginners

Getting critique on your work is the only way to find out how others perceive your work. But, beginners are often hesitant to join in with critiquing because they don't think they have the skills to judge a photo yet. I strongly disagree. Many of us aim to one day be good enough to have their photo in a newspaper or hanging on someone's wall. But the people who will be buying your art for their wall or looking at your photo in the newspaper will not be photographers -they'll be normal, everyday people. So, when giving critique don't worry if you could do better or not, it makes no difference -it's your opinion matters. And don't be concerned about being "right" or "wrong" -your opinion is just one opinion and the photographer should only take it as such. Just remember -there is no right or wrong when it comes to your own personal opinion!

So, with this in mind, here's a little cheat-sheet to give you some inspiration on what to look at when giving critique.

Here are the some basic areas to focus on:

1. As a whole, do you like the image? Does it look like someone spent time on it? Is it eye-catching? Could you see it on a wall, in an advertisement, or newspaper?
2. Exposure Overall is the photo too dark or too bright? Does it look dull and grayish?
3. Lighting: Is the lighting even? Are the shadows too dark or the highlights too bright? Are there distracting shadows?
4. Sharpness: Is the subject of the photo in focus? How much of the photo is in focus? Would the photo benefit from the background being more or less in focus?
5. Framing: Are there parts of the photo that were included, but don't add to the photo? Or is something missing or cut off that would have added to the photo?
6. Contrast: Does the subject stand out from the background, or does it get somewhat lost in it?
7. Noise: Does the image have a grainy appearance? Does it add to the image or negatively impact it?

Other areas of critique:

8. Rule of Thirds: Is the subject and/or horizon centered? Would the rule of thirds help make the photo more interesting?
9. Balance: Does your eye tend to ignore parts of the photo due to subject placement, bright spots, or certain colors?
10. Perspective: Is the angle that the photo was taken at effective? Would another angle be more interesting or appropriate?
11. Effects: Is the use of vignette (making the outside of the photo dark), adding of frames, selective colorization, etc effective or distracting? Does it add to the photo?
12. B&W vs Color: Was the use of color or black and white appropriate? Might it look better the other way?

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