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Photography Question 
Thomas P. Masty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/6/2010

Critique Format?

Is there a proper format to use when critiquing?
Like what works? What doesnt? What could make it better?

What little critiquing I've seen here, really wasn't a critique. I would like to join a group that does constructive critique I'm hungry for another level. Any good places to start? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


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11/5/2010 8:44:40 AM

Lynn R. Powers   Linda,

"I feel your pain." The critique section at the bottom of this page is 90% praise and very little critique. It appears that many responders do not know what makes a good photo. (Instructors not included) I have also seen a few photos there that should have been put into the "praise" section because they were outstanding photos and the only critique they would receive is praise anyway, even by the instructors.

I found that the FM, Fred Miranda, site is pretty good on giving good critiques. especially if you ask for it. They have helped me change a photo from "nice" to a "well done".

Popphoto Forums have recently added a "Serious Critique" section. Your photos will be critiqued by members that are professionals as well as advanced amateurs. Well okay some of them aren't so advanced and there are a couple newer photographers that will come up with some remarks that are of little value.

There is also the regular "Readers Gallery" which often contain some helpful hints or critique but is mainly like or dislike something about it.

There is also a place to put snapshots for those photos that you just want to share.

As far as a critiquing format I would only mention what you like/dislike about a photo and what needs to be done or why it works.


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11/5/2010 10:41:49 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  It's a fine line to walk when critiquing. Unless a photographer asks for comments, be careful. A large amount on BP get upset at anything slightly negative said about their photos. Secondly, if you are offering honest critical critiques, make sure you can take it as well.

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11/5/2010 11:19:07 AM

Vicki Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/24/2008
  There's a great club here on BP called Phellos.....I think theres a waiting list but check it out...I learned a great deal from the club members

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11/5/2010 6:05:01 PM

Thomas P. Masty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/6/2010
  Thank you for all the responses. I just started coming to BP in Sept for a class and like it here. There are some world class photogs here, IMHO.

I wonder why there is arch a reluctance to get full critiques. Don't most of us at this stage really want to hear the full round of feedback, especially if we are asking for it? The few times I've been lucky enough to get a critique, they were immeasurably valuable. As soon as they told me something it was like I got new glasses and it was instantly recognizable. I can see how subjective it is as well, but a good feedback resonates. My problem is when I've taken something I love all I see is the part I like about it, not what could make it better. (let alone, whether or not I have the skills to fix it). Then again, I spend most my time tearing it apart ---

But thank you again, I will indeed check out the 3 or 4 groups you all mentioned.

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11/6/2010 12:25:31 PM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  One thing I should have mentioned about the BP community is their enthusiasm to help each other. find someone whose work you admire and technique is sound, then ask him/her for a honest critique. Most are more than happy, even flattered to be asked. Then when you get a critique, you decide for yourself if you want to follow their advice. Make sure the person's work is similar to the type you shoot, and sound! Happy Shooting.

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11/6/2010 6:28:21 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
Hi Linda,
When you signed up for your BP course, you have options for the instructor's critiques for various levels including "Be Nice" to "Brutally Straight" or something like that :) I have been aided myself with constructive critiques as I have grown over the last few years. Jim Zuckerman is one of my favorites and I was lucky enough to join him on a European Photo tour in 2008. He has a way of logically explaining why an image works or what fails in a way that doesn't upset my delicate disposition. I took a shot of a girl running through a fountain and Jim pointed out that the background street was running right through her head. If I had gotten a bit higher or lower - I could have avoided that and the image would have turned out much better.
His knowledge of Exposure/Composition is amazing and I have learned very useful techniques that are now habits or at least in the forefront of my mind when I am composing for a shot. I shoot 1000's of images over a 3-4 day weekend 4 or 5 times each summer as I make my festival rounds each year and these become quite challenging as I can only get a few shots in the AM and a few in the PM when light is optimal so I use many techniques for using fill light, finding flattering & un-cluttered backgrounds and angles. If you just focus on background alone, your photography will vastly improve. During my festival shoots, I take fast paced snapshots all day long but with good background and lighting, these often come out very well. I have tons of Facebook friends that have my images as their profile pics. I pride myself on how few images I shoot have a porta-john in the background as they are everywhere and I always have to be conscious of them. I will even ask someone to move slightly or turn a bit if that little movement will pay off with better light/background.
Learning Photography is a long and fun journey so enjoy it as you go and as you improve, you will see what was acceptable to you before - no longer is and that "bar" has raised up even more :)
I am including a shot I took at the Summer Meltdown of Andy Coe who was on stage with all the stage rigging & supports all around him but I managed to find a hole by placing myself at an angle and zooming in a bit that had nothing but the trees behind the him for the background...
Love in Light,

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11/6/2010 7:46:05 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  To Dennis' point... We've seen many, many cases at BP over the years, where someone gets critqued on their image, and the image owner goes ballistic over the perceived "negative attack"---EVEN in cases they first asked "please critique my image." So Dennis is right on the money, to say if you want critique, be totally sure you can accept it, or that you can ignore it when necessary :)

The flip side to that, is that I believe a lot of people don't know how to deliver CONSTRUCTIVE critiques on images. Someone might leave a critique that is technically valid, but in their delivery, it could come across sounding harsh or degrading or humiliating---ESPECIALLY if the image owner is at all sensitive to things like that (and thus shouldn't be asking for critiques!) or if the critic is, perhaps, a more confrontational personality to begin with. (We've seen that here, too, albeit rarely.)

However, those same critique points could be delivered in a constructive format (again, assuming the image owner WANTS honest critique) and the critique would come off much more neutral in tone and, I think, more effective.

Of course, you should always weigh every critique against your own honest assessment of your image (very hard, sometimes!) as well as the work of the critic (do you believe the critic produces work that offers you a chance to learn or better your own work? Even if you feel the critic's work is "on your level" photographically, do their comments make sense, objectively?)

A final note; many folks can better handle (and appreciate) a true, honest constructive critique, if it is sent privately, rather than posted into the photo's discussion thread here on BP.

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11/17/2010 10:23:11 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  While others have already chimed in with some really great insights, please allow me to add my two cents worth...
It's true that the photographer's ego is a sensitive thing and that good news is almost always better than bad news. We all want to be acknowledged when we shine but we are sometimes hesitant to accept when we may need a bit more polish.
While giving an "honest" critique of a dreadfully bad photo can be more of a challenge than the art of photography itself, more often than not something good can be found in any photo and that should be the starting point for the critique:
"You've chosen an interesting subject and I really like the composition but that background sky is over-exposed and a little distracting. You should tilt your camera angle a little lower to eliminate as much of that sky as possible to focus more attention on your subject"
The most accepted critiques will begin on a positive note then elaborate into what's not so good and finish with suggestions for improvement.

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11/19/2010 4:03:14 PM

Thomas P. Masty
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/6/2010
  Oh!!!!! I really like that approach!

That's exactly what I want out of a critique, tell me what I'm missing and, (God Bless you for pointing this out), WHAT specifically to try to fix it!


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11/20/2010 11:16:24 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  One additional thing Linda. Years ago I was in a college photography program. On Friday's we had to display our weekly assignment and stand in front of everyone and explain what our goal was. Then it was the instructor and the classes turn to critique. There were always a few students who no matter what was displayed would find negative things to point out. I think it was their attempt to make themselves look knowledgeable and to impress the instructor. It was almost entertainment in itself.

I bring this up for a reason. If you put your photos out there and ask for critical critque be ready for those who will go out of their way to find things wrong. When I get a negative comment, the first thing I do is decide if their comment holds water. The next thing I do is look at their photos to make sure they can walk the walk. Don't automatically accept a negative or positive comment without a good subjective analysis of your own.

When you see a photo you really like, take a few minutes and figure out what it is about it you like. AND, don't be afraid to ask someone whose work you admire for an opinion on how you could possibly improve a photo.

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11/21/2010 9:36:51 PM

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