Basic Tips for Critiquing a
Positive and negative comments are balanced
What is good about it?
What is not good?
How could it be better?
Things to Remember
Move beyond your own likes and dislikes
Identify the technical, objective factors that define a
photo and evaluate them
Where to Begin
Determine the facts about a photo
Once you do this, you have a good basis for determining
your own opinions
Four Basic Factors
Four basic factors determine a photograph’s standard:
Value, in a photograph, concerns light
Value refers to the range of light in a photograph
As a general rule, the more contrast a photo has, the
greater its visual impact will be
Causes for poor value:
How the film is processed
The kind of paper used to make the print
The primary key to clarity is focus
In a correctly focused photograph, a subject may be
either sharp or soft
With sharp focus, all edges are very clearly defined
With soft focus, the edges blur a bit
Questions to ask:
What’s in focus?
What should be in focus?
Look at what’s not in focus: Why is it not?
Clarity depends on an appropriate shutter speed and
an appropriate degree of contrast between the subject
Causes for poor clarity:
Focus is the most common
Using too large an aperture
Incorrect shutter speed
Point of Interest
Is there a point of interest?
A photo should have one clear point of interest
Is is tight? (Is the frame filled with important elements or
is there wasted space?)
Is it top-heavy, lopsided, or boring?
Even a single line can draw the viewer’s eye toward away
from the point of interest
Look for the care and skill with which the final product
has been produced
Look for stuff on the negative that shouldn't’ be there
like white flecks, fingerprints, and dark circles
Other aspects of presentation:
Neatly trimmed edges
Proper adhesion to the mat board
Sample Critique 1
I like the value in this photo.
There are very dark darks, very
light lights, and many shades of
gray in between. I also like how
the photo is in focus. Another
thing I like is how it’s cropped,
so that the entire picture is filled
with important elements.
Something I would improve is
the brightness of the window
and the watch because they
distract from the faces, which
From Chapter 4 The Photographic Eye
Sample Critique 2
I really like this photo because it is
very interesting and not boring to
look at. The thing that makes it
interesting is the presentation of it;
the lines are not perfectly
horizontal. Something I would do
to improve this would be to crop
the cloud out because it can
distract from the main focus, which
is the cat.
Corey Arnold Photography
Sample Critique 3
Micah Albert Photographer
This photo is very interesting to
look at. I like the way the
photographer captures the sun
shining through. The value in this
photo is great because there are
light lights (the sun) and dark
darks (the side of the hill). There
are also many shades in
between, like the ground.
Something I would improve is the
purple spot on the picture, as it
distracts from the photo since it’s
a completely different color from
the rest of the picture.