Learning to review other people’s photos

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Techniques | 0 comments

Learning to review other people’s photos

At some point every photographer is approached by a friend or family member to provide feedback on one of their images. After watching many different judges at camera clubs, I can honestly say that I have seen the good and bad versions of how this is done.

You might be surprised to find that learning to provide constructive criticism about other people photos will actually help your own photo taking. Understanding what you see in other peoples photos and how to communicate about that will give you key insights into what would work to improve your photos.
So lets examine a few key items that you should consider:

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1) Be sure that the questioner is actually looking for feedback. A lot of people when asking for feedback on photos are only really in hearing the good things. They just want to get the a pat on the back and well done for the picture they have taken, and this is perfectly fine. Be careful not to provide in-depth feedback in this instance.

2) Include a personal element in your feedback. Everyone, of course, has a different opinion and a photographer willing to learn will be keen to hear these differences. Tell them what you like about the photo, also tell them the elements that you are not so keen about. It is also important to explain why you like or dislike those elements, for example I love the way the fog gives a sense of mystery to the background of this photo.

3) Discuss the technical side of things. Is the subject in focus (beware sometimes it might not meant to be), is the light too strong or too soft, and is the photo correctly exposed? These items are often the more easily addressed.

4) Discuss the artistic side of things. Does the photo tell a story to you? Can you discern the main focal point or are there too many distracting elements in the frame. Could the story be emphasised or changed by the photographer changing any particular elements of the photo?

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5) Things are never bad. For elements of a photo that you consider to be negative elements, always try to address those as things that could be improved. For example instead of saying “the angle you have used in this point is really bad“, try saying something like “I think if you got lower to the ground you the person look bigger and stronger

The golden rule for me though is always leave a good impression. The photographer has stepped out onto a limb by seeking feedback about their photo, overly negative feedback or feedback delivered incorrectly could affect the person’s confidence. By asking you for feedback, the person values your opinion but use that power wisely. Keep the person enthused about photography and keen to learn, a few kind words with constructive feedback can go a long way for most people.

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Ken Dickson is an Australian based photographer with nearly 30 years experience. A regular contributor to international competitions, Ken holds honour levels both within Australia and Internationally. He started in photography when travelling the world with the Navy using both film and slide film. Moving to digital in 2004, Ken has embraced the available technologies to continue his artistry. With a love for sharing his knowledge and experience Ken helped to launch Ozlight Photo Adventures (www.ozlightphoto.com) providing courses and practical workshops in all aspects of photography.

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