It has been said that the hardest thing is to be able to objectively evaluate your own creative efforts. Just tell the truth. Can you recognise when something is missing from your work? Even more crucially, are you aware of what is lacking? The only way to get better at taking pictures is to use an extremely challenging benchmark.
Photographers have a natural talent for judging the quality of other photographers' work. It's not difficult, because your initial reaction to a shot is almost always either positive or negative, and rarely shifts. However, when discussing your job, things become more convoluted.
Looking at your photos with a constructively critical eye is a great way to learn how to improve your photography skills. You are evaluating the photographs you have taken so far to establish the foundation upon which your photographic identity will be erected.
If you want to improve as a photographer, having a more seasoned professional look over your work is invaluable. You should only look for feedback from people who can provide useful suggestions rather than just criticising your work. Always keep an upbeat disposition when reviewing your photographic work. Many artists and writers are far too critical of their own work. Try to see the potential for growth in your photographs.
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One could say that photography is a left-brain and right-brain activity. The two together form a whole, which is what we mean here.
The camera's settings should be managed by the left brain, the more analytical and technical part of us. To take photographs to the level of technical quality with which we are satisfied, we must be familiar with and adept with our respective cameras.
Humans' innate capacity for original thought and artistic expression resides in the right hemisphere of the brain. It must be allowed the latitude to explore new ideas and communicate how we feel about the world through the images we create. More people will be interested in and inspired by our photographs if they convey something of how we feel about the world around us.
To bridge the gap between these two facets of photography, there are five essential components:
Creating a single image with all five components is challenging, but we should strive for it.
This is such a personal opinion! Especially (in comparison to other facets of photography.) Any subject you choose to photograph is fair game. Right and wrong do not exist. It's your decision whether or not to take pictures of your dog. What gives us the right to tell you that your dog is unattractive or not photogenic? As far as you're concerned, it doesn't matter because it's your dog and you love it no matter what. Doing photography that you're passionate about will infuse your photos with more of an emotional connection to the subject.
Some topics may be more technically sound than others, so careful consideration is required when making selections. Damaged residents diminish the appeal of seemingly innocuous things like flowers and fruit. However, depending on the aesthetic of the photograph you're taking, the fact that the flowers are past their prime may not matter. Nonetheless, in the face of certain obstacles on the path to a specific type, it is important to make a deliberate selection.
FAQs About Photography
Characteristics of a Great Photographer
The initial consideration must be given to the motivation. If you could ask the photographer what they were trying to accomplish with this shot, what would they say? When photographing victims of a catastrophic event, for instance, was the photographer able to evoke compassion in those who viewed their work?
Competence in relevant technical areas was a secondary consideration. To what extent did the photographer demonstrate expertise in the art of visual composition, lighting, and exposure, and overall design?
Regularity was the deciding factor. Did the photographer only take a handful of successful photos, or did they consistently deliver stunning results? A photographer can't make the jump from good to great with just one or even a handful of outstanding shots.
You are your own worst critic; have you ever heard that expression before? While the common perception of that phrase is one of negativity, the reality is quite the opposite. To improve as a photographer, you must be able to objectively evaluate your own work and accept the truth about what works and what doesn't.
Therefore, please use this both-strong-and-weak checklist as you examine your photographs. That's not a difficult concept to grasp. Simply evaluate your photo and give it a "strong" or "weak" rating. Your image will either be a success or a failure; there is no room for ambiguity. The first step in improving is recognising where you fall short.
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Initial Questions To Answer When First Viewing for a Constructive Photography Evaluation
- So, what sets this picture apart from others of its kind?
- Do you find yourself wondering, "how'd they do that?" while looking at this picture?
- What is it about this picture that particularly grabs your attention?
- How does one's gaze move through the picture?
- How is stress brought about?
Emphasis is the resting place for the eye. The eye will return there. Having an emphasis creates a centre of interest.
Photography With Your Left Brain Hemisphere: The Technical Stuff
Do not focus too much on technical aspects of photography when attempting to answer analysis questions about the photograph. Technically speaking, much of what goes into making a great photograph is open to wide interpretation. Negative photography reviews cannot always be reduced to a set of underlying technical principles.
All valid instances of a photo review should include discussion of technical aspects. The wrong camera settings can completely ruin a photo. Images that are technically perfect but lack creative expression or emotional values almost never stand out.
- Do you always follow the camera's directional cues, or do you occasionally take charge of the light yourself?
- You should be able to make out individual hairs in your shadows.
- Have you ever bounced a flash off a surface instead of pointing it straight at your subject?
- Does the picture have too much or too little light? If that's the case, what do you attribute that to?
- How might you make sure this doesn't come up again?
Exposure is a subjective but important aspect of photography. You have an exposure problem if either too much or too little light is reaching your camera's sensor. It is possible for a photograph to be properly exposed even if there is no detail in the highlights or shadows. Critiques of photography that adhere to a strict technical standard will likely disagree with me on this point.
- Do we have proper emphasis on the primary elements of the story?
- Your camera's focus should typically be set to the part of the composition that you've chosen to be the most important.
- Is there a need for this narrowing of attention?
- Does the direction of the audience's gaze depend on you?
When both foreground and background are at the same level of sharpness, it can be very disorienting to the eye. What is immediately in front of the camera is not necessarily what should be in sharp focus. When taking a photo of anything, it's best to focus on the eyes. When taking a picture of a person, you might want to zoom in on their hands while blurring their face. Your focal point should not be random.
Depth of Field (DOF)
- To what extent is the depth of field (DOF) shallow or deep?
- Do you think more or less blurring in the background would improve your photo?
- Is your image static on the page, or have you used framing, balance, and contrast to give it life?
The depth of field should be deliberate. How much of the subject is in sharp focus in your photo? Is the level of sharpness just right, or is it off. Take into account the amount of blur when working with a shallow depth of field and a small aperture.
- Is the white balance correct?
- Is there a yellowish, bluish, or greenish cast to the photo?
It's common for photos to look strange when the white balance is off. Using a different white balance setting can produce pleasing results in some cases. The most imaginative work might not result from using the "right" camera setting. It's possible that a striking image was captured by accident.
Photography With Your Right Brain Hemisphere: The Creative Stuff
- Is it possible to describe this image using words that convey feelings, such as happiness, sadness, joy, anger, or rage? Does your photo evoke feelings in the viewer?
Your thoughts on the photo?
It is recommended that you avoid the use of any photography-related terminology in your analysis. Give an answer that takes the pain into account. Using only the most fundamental of photography terms may not be the most fruitful way to offer insightful criticism. Consider your feelings by asking yourself the following:
- What mood do you see in the photo?
Feelings can be seen in photographs. This has nothing to do with how the people in the picture are feeling. Emotion can be conveyed in a photograph through the use of colour, tone, exposure, and subject matter.
- Is this mood is what you intended?
Get to know your camera inside and out so you can focus less on its movements. Concentration is the key to making a strong connection with your audience. You can convey more emotion in your photographs if you are in the moment and focused on the subject at hand.
- Do you find joy in it? Sad? Angry? Scared?
- How well do you think the photo explains your point of view? Can you explain your yes/no answer?
- Does your image convey a sense of motion, or does it just sit there?
- Is it a statement of the obvious, or does it leave room for interpretation?
No one will give your image a second look if it doesn't convey some sort of information. The desire to look at photographs repeatedly is a sign that they are excellent. The most compelling narratives are those that are personal to the photographer. This isn't some retold tale. When taking photos, it's best to draw from personal experience.
All planes are in crisp focus, giving the impression of depth. Exuberant hues, with subjects kept as simple as possible and placed in their natural settings. There is a time and place for everything in the world.
- What words would others use to characterise your approach?
- To what extent do you appreciate the image presented here?
If you like the photo or dislike it, write down your thoughts on it. Do not be too hard on yourself as you consider your answer. Many artists, myself included, have a chronic pessimism about the work we produce. Think about what you do like about the photo before you say.
Center of interest
- Do you manage to draw the eye of the viewer to a particular part of your images?
- Can the audience identify your focus?
- The question is, how do you react to this picture?
- Have you considered putting this on your wall? Can you explain your yes/no answer?
This is one of the most telling indicators of how much you appreciate a work of visual art in general, not just a photograph. A better critical review question couldn't be asked of a photographer. Answering this question positively requires more dedication than simply giving a photo a "Like" on Facebook or a "Heart" on Instagram. If you're proud of your photo, have it printed, have it framed, and display it proudly.
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Whole Brain Photography: Balanced Constructive Evaluation and Critique
We have discussed both the left-brained technical aspects and the right-brained creative aspects of photography. You may be scratching your head and trying to figure out a middle ground. The question is how to do so in a way that contributes to a more comprehensive, constructive critique of photographic work as a whole.
In photography, there are five things that make an image great. All of these things together should form a healthy blend of technical proficiency and imaginative flair. To wit:
The substance and essence of photography (not photographs) is light. No photograph can be taken in total darkness. Photographic images are constructed from the elemental substance of light.
There is a lot of weight to the way light interacts with the subject. It's true that bright light can enhance the quality of some photographs, but not all. Photographing some subjects works equally well in both hard and soft light. They produce very different visual results.
Look into the lighting conditions when doing your constructive photography analysis. With any luck, you did that before taking the photo. we urge you to reevaluate your position.
- Have you accomplished your goals with the light?
- Do you have the right amount of light in your photographs?
- Is the mood that the lighting is establishing in the photograph more evened out now?
There is a tremendous gradient between the brightest and darkest lights. We need to find the most aesthetically pleasing light within this range of variation and tolerance in order to create our photographs. Therefore, this variation can have significant effects on our exposure choices and the resulting photos' moods.
- Were you making use of the natural light or adding an artificial light source (flash, LED panel, etc.)?
- Can I get your approval?
- Where do you think the lighting and exposure could have been enhanced in this picture?
- Are you able to see your subject clearly?
- Is it too mild or too harsh?
- Would your image be improved by lighting the subject from another angle?
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Photographic composition refers to the overall arrangement of the shot's constituent parts within the frame. What matters is not what we frame, but what we exclude from it. The lens we use and the angle at which we shoot give us tremendous leeway in crafting our final images' compositions. It is possible to change a design by physically repositioning the elements being photographed.
Our photography critiques can be extremely strict in their adherence to the rules of composition. They should be used as suggestions in our critical analyses of photographic work. Using these guidelines to evaluate a photograph may limit your ability to express yourself creatively and emotionally. It's important to remember that there are rules to composing photographs that must be followed. They may prove useful in some situations. Examine your choice of how to present the subject matter in great detail.
- Is there harmony and significance between all of the elements of your composition?
- Does your composition contain everything that should be there?
- Or, maybe there are too many competing elements in your photo.
This is much more crucial than other photographic compositional practises such as the rule of thirds, solid diagonals, or leading lines.
One must strike a balance between the technical and compositional rules. This will guarantee that you have not missed any essential details about your subject. You can do better if you haven't included all of the necessary visual details or if you've added irrelevant ones.
- Is it possible that you should have approached a little bit more intently? More remote?
- Was it necessary to use such a busy background?
- Could the subject benefit from a shallower depth of field?
- Is the picture better off with the horizon where it is?
- Feelings of equilibrium?
- Do the various parts of the image cohere with one another?
- Does the viewpoint improve how the subject and background space together?
- Would a shift in viewpoint have improved the quality of the image?
- Is there a skewed interpretation because of the viewpoint? If so, how effective is it?
In a nutshell, "The Decisive Moment" describes what is widely regarded as a second crucial component of good photography.
Asking yourself if the time you chose to press the shutter release was ideal is an important part of any self-critical assessment of your photography. There is a direct correlation between the time of day and the final result of a photograph. This could be a split-second call or it could take months of preparation to get it just right, depending on your chosen topic.
Choosing the correct shutter speed is less important than knowing when to use it.
- Have you ever taken a photograph and wished you had taken it at a different time?
- Can we say that this is the perfect time?
- If we had waited, would things have turned out differently?
- Could you have taken a more impressive picture in the morning?
- Could the photo have been more interesting if taken at night?
Light is the driving force behind photography, and the colours and tones we see when looking through our viewfinders are the result of reflected light captured by our cameras (or just tones when we're working in black and white). Color and tonality are like the baked loaf of bread if light is the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and water of photography. Color and tonality are the first things that jump out at us when we examine a photograph. Although we cannot see light itself, we can perceive its reflections in the form of colour and tone in photographs.
There is all manner of rules and guides regarding what good colour or tone in an image is. I believe all analysis is most subjective. A good black and white photograph, according to purists, will have a wide tonal range, showing detail in both the darkest and lightest areas of the composition. They may also try to convince you that certain combinations of colours are inappropriate for use in a document.
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Some of these academic approaches have merit, but ultimately it is up to you to decide if the desired aesthetic effect has been achieved. To the extent that it serves the artist's purpose, any colour scheme can be used in a composition. You can restrict the tonal range of your photo to just black and white if you like, or choose any other combination of tones in between.
The fact that you knew you were going to use a certain colour scheme or tone for the final product is the single most important consideration when analysing your photograph.
- Do the colours and tones in your photo convey your intended mood and atmosphere?
- Do the hues complement one another or clash?
- To what extent does the contrast aid in concentration? Or diminish it?
- Does the colour scheme work well together?
- Do the hues aid in evoking the feelings you hoped for?
All the most compelling photographs include this element, which cannot be considered technically. Because no one else has the same perspective and experiences, the photographs you take will be unique and special.
Good photographs don't rely solely on visual clichés; they also elicit an emotional response from the viewer. When trying to solve a problem, I think it's important to take into account the connection we have with our subject.
When learning how to take photographs, it is recommended that beginners start by shooting subjects that interest them. (As we add more and more photographs of the same subject to our collection, this may become more challenging.) Taking pictures of something you're interested in can help you become better at it.
At first, your curiosity about the topic is high. Knowledgeable on your subject matter. Perhaps you have an intense interest in this area. You already feel close to one another.
Emotional depth in photographs can be more difficult to achieve when shooting a subject with which you are unfamiliar. Taking emotionally charged photos of a topic about which you know little or nothing can be easier, depending on the subject and circumstances.
- Think of words that describe photography from a relational standpoint as you examine your work for analysis and critique.
- Just how did you feel a personal connection to your subject?
- Did you miss out on a chance to bond because you were too preoccupied with your camera?
- What other ways could you have approached the situation that would have led to a better photograph?
- In your picture, do you see calm and peace, or do you feel pressure and anxiety?
- Is it easy to understand what you meant to say?
- Does the picture tell a simple story?
- Will viewers feel an emotional connection to my subject?
As you dive deeper into photography analysis and critique your own work, you'll undoubtedly come up with a wide range of new questions and concerns. Give some love to your pals. Your mutual appreciation and skill in photography will flourish if you take the time to critique each other's work.
You need to approach your photography with a curious and inquisitive mind. Consider the question, "What can I do to better my photography?" Don't be too critical of your own work, and don't dwell solely on the parts of your photographs that you find lacking. When you accomplish something and feel proud of yourself, take a moment to acknowledge your efforts.
Writing down your criticisms of yourself can be illuminating. If you want to improve as a photographer, keeping a journal to look back on is a great idea. Consider incorporating critical analyses of your own photography into the mix. You could also invite people to look at your photographs and offer feedback.
No attempt was made to compile every facet of photography here. You don't need to discuss each and every one of these areas. Please refer to this document for guidance.
If you want honest feedback on your photography, the best thing you can do is to step back and take a cold, hard look. Have extremely high standards; unless you work for a photography website and are illustrating a point, you shouldn't show anyone a poorly shot photograph.
The majority of your photographs will be straightforward to evaluate, and you will have a good idea of the quality of each photograph shortly after taking it. There will, however, always be those cases that are trickier to decide. As a general rule, this occurs when a person has a strong emotional reaction or memory attached to a particular photograph, making it difficult to evaluate the photograph objectively.
When this happens, the best option is to try waiting a while. The longer you wait, the easier it is to separate your memories from the photo itself. If that still doesn't work, try showing your image to other photographers or flipping it horizontally in post-processing. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
It's not always simple to provide constructive criticism of photographs, but doing so is always rewarding. Don't bore your viewers with subpar shots, but don't hide away the occasional gem either. These suggestions may prove useful in helping you reach a conclusion.