Critiques from peers, teachers, or mentors is ideal, but the ability to critique your own work is also important. We’ve devised some helpful steps to follow to critique your photos properly.
First, mentally prepare yourself for the critique. Shake off all your personal biases and put yourself in a mindset of objectivity (as best you can). Be nice to yourself if you keep noticing mistakes. Be a problem solver. Think, “here's what’s wrong, here’s how I can make it better.”
Start your critique with a technical checklist. Remember, a good photographer fixes these things right in the camera during the shoot, so practice being proactive about the technical stuff.
Composition: Where is the visual weight of your photo? Where is the first place your eyes go when you look at the image? Where do they go next and is that where you want them to go? Does the placement of the subject (off-center, center, etc.) enhance the overall meaning of the photo?
Color: Is there any tungsten lighting or white balance issues you didn’t account for? Do the colors flow properly? Is the color necessary, or would it say just as much without it?
Lines: Do your lines lead the eye to the subject? Do you have any lines leading off the image? Are the vertical and horizontal elements of the photo aligned properly to balance the photo?
Focus: Could you have used a better focal length (wider angle to get more of the scene, or zoomed in to isolate the subject)? Is the subject sharp? Are unnecessary things in focus, distracting from the subject and meaning?
Exposure: Is the photo too dark or too light? Are any highlights or shadows too bright or too dark?
Lighting: Does the lighting help convey the overall meaning? Did you do your best in the environment you were given?
Once you’ve checked all those things, start focusing on the conceptual meaning of your photo.
Meaning: What does your photo say? Does it clearly communicate what you intended to show?
Interpretation: Are there any other possible interpretations? Is it a good thing if people see it differently? If not, could you refine the photo through editing to reduce the chance to misinterpretation?
Distractions: Is there anything distracting from the meaning of the photo? In most cases, if something is not adding to the conceptual and artistic value of the photo, it’s a distraction.
There are lots of questions you could ask about the conceptual side. But overall you should be asking yourself, "Does it say what I want it to say?"
If you've got any photos you'd like us to take a look at, we've got some helpful critique services where you can receive a professional critique from the experts. And with a membership you get a free digital critique each month!