Critiquing your photos is one of the best ways to learn from your mistakes, and improve. When you study what’s not so great about them, it becomes pretty clear what you need to do to fix them. These questions to critique your photos will help you to take better photos when it counts.
The problem is though, most people can’t critique their own photos. More importantly, they can’t critique them when it matters. It’s all well and good getting home and critiquing your photos, but by then, it’s too late to fix any problems, and take better photos.
It’s best to critique your photos by asking questions as you take the photos. These are 10 very simple questions I constantly ask myself, as a reminder to always be looking to improve my photos.
Photography comes naturally to me, but it’s not as simple as clicking the shutter, you need to stay on top of things.
Questions to Critique Your Photos
10. What’s adding to the photo?
Decide on what you like about the photo, and think about how you can improve on that. If the answer doesn’t come instantly, it’s probably not a very good photo.
9. What’s taking away?
Whatever doesn’t add, takes away. Clean up your photo, because less is more, and you don’t want to confuse your viewers.
8. How do your eyes travel through the frame?
How we look at a photo is determined by the different visual weights, and the paths created in the frame. This works closely with the question above, because you want to be able to manipulate the way your viewers look at a photo, by fully understanding how visual weight works, and using different weights to influence them.
7. Where/who/what is your subject?
Is it clear from your photo where/who/what your subject is? Do they receive an appropriate amount of attention, or are there too many distractions?
6. Do you know what you want to express, and is the message clear?
Is this more than just a pretty picture? When you look at the photo for the first time, what do you feel? Are you feeling the feeling that you’re trying to express?
5. Is the photo correctly exposed?
The best way to check your exposure isn’t to look at your LCD display, but to look at the histogram. This will tell you if your photo is too dark, or too bright in places. When a pixel is true black, or a true white, you lose detail which can’t be recovered. Make sure you watch out for this while you’re still taking the photos.
4. How is the balance?
Balance determines whether the photo is pleasing and harmonious to look at, or rather uncomfortable and unresolved. Simply put, deciding between balanced and unbalanced is the same as deciding between tension and harmony, and each degree of choice has its different uses. How do you want your photo to feel?
3. Would the photo look better through a different focal length (change in distance from subject)?
Focal length is an interesting one, because you may not quite realise the effects of focal length, but it can completely change the perspective of the photo, because it goes hand in hand with your distance from the subject. Closer is often better.
2. What about the focus and DoF?
One of the biggest mistakes that people see to make is misunderstanding where they should be focusing in their photos, and how much depth of field they need. If you’re shooting landscapes, focus about a third of the way into the frame for maximum depth of field, and if you’re shooting a person, focus on their eyes. That’s if you want to play by the book – feel free to experiment.
1. Do you like this photo?
Obvious, and simple, but valid all the same – your instinct will give you the answer for this one. I typically take photos until I have to stop, or I’m happy with the results and don’t think I’ll get much better. If you’re happy, then that’s all that matters really, because photography is subjective, and if you can please number one, then you’re doing alright.
Check out our post where we critiqued the photos of Expert Photography readers and see what you think yourself!