Associate Professor of Art & Photography.
Tips for Photo Critique
What is a Critique?
The critique process is a four-step practice of description, analysis, interpretation and conclusions. It is a method for translating visual response into verbal expression. Critique has nothing to do with likes or dislikes. Responses based on preferences are “value judgments” and say nothing about what is being examined. These “opinions” are subjective and speak about YOUR likes and dislikes. Try to approach the work more objectively and with sincerity when critiquing. This process of critiquing and having work critiqued is one of the best ways to become more perceptive and grow as an photographer.
How Do I Critique?
The first step in critique is to physically place yourself in front of the artwork so you can see it. Your face should be in front of the artwork at a distance that is equal to the largest diagonal measurement of the artwork.
In order to effectively critique the first thing you have to do is LOOK at the work and ask yourself, what do you see? This requires you to visually study the image and make a literal description, or inventory of what you see. It sounds more simple than it is.
Secondly, visual relationships are being created by elements in the image. How do they relate to each other? Where is the visual emphasis in the piece? What are the characteristics of this composition?
What does it mean? Think about it. This is a good time to use your imagination. What story is the artist telling? There probably isn’t a right or wrong answer, just try to verbalize what you think is going on. What are you thinking and feeling and how have your responses been influenced by viewing this work of art? Are there symbols, metaphors, or analogies in the work? How does the meaning relate to your life or the world?
In what ways does the work “succeed”? What are its weaknesses? Do you think the intentions of the artist were realized? Compare to other artworks of a similar view. Does the artwork relate someone else’s artwork you have seen in the past? Is the piece an original, creative approach?
The 3 step Positive, Question and Suggestion (PQS) method of Critique
1. Speak about one positive attribute of the photograph.
2. Ask a question about the photograph.
3. Make one suggestion about the photograph.