We humans are visual beings. From the very childhood we learn by observing and imitating actions performed by others. First it’s our parents, then our friends, colleagues and our role models in life. While observing them, we create our own opinions, and through expressing critique of their work we form our unique sense of style. So it comes as no surprise, that by observing and critiquing photographs made by others we can learn actually much more than by just reading books or watching tutorials.
Why is critiquing photographs so important ?
Photography critique is very important element in the development of every photographer, but unfortunately often overlooked. By critiquing photographs we put ourselves in our viewer’s shoes, and have a chance to explore our photos from a different point of view. Also, by carefully examining a photo, and trying to write some constructive critique, we force ourselves to think about all compositional and emotional elements that make a great photo.
The more photos we critique, the more we become aware of what works well in photos and what doesn’t. That knowledge we automatically apply in our work (whether we are aware of that or not), as brains become wired to notice all those little details we criticized in other people’s photos. Not to mention that through discussion with other photography enthusiasts, and exchanging opinions on photography critique forums there is a potential gold mine of experience and creative ideas that you simply cannot find in a normal photography book.
So, where to look for a place to write your photography critiques ?
Photo Critique Sites and Forums
There are several photo critique sites where it is possible to register and comment other people’s photos as well as get some feedback on your own work. We recommend that you check the following ones:
- http://www.photosig.com/ – PhotoSig is a community of photographers and photography enthusiasts, ranging from amateurs to working professionals. photoSIG members who submit photographs are expected to write critiques for others . Registration is free, and there you can critique photos of other photographers, as well as post your own portfolio. Since it is possible to rate the critiques themselves, posting constructive comments and contributing to the community will bring you benefits in terms of exposure and credibility.
- http://photo.net/ – Photo.net is a massive website dedicated to photography, and an excellent resource to anyone interested in learning about photography. Although the site might appear a bit overwhelming at first sight, the sections are ordered pretty intuitively and it allows you to create a free member profile and show off your portfolio. The photo critique section is not as sophisticated as PhotoSig, but massive community and wealth of information there outweighs the initial website complexity.
- http://1x.com/ – 1x.com define themselves as photo community with a difference. Their aim is to create a collection of pre-screened high quality photos without vacation shots, pet portraits and other snapshots. Although registration is free, you can upload 1 photo per week on a free account. We have not yet tried to upload our photos there, but the critique section is available to everyone.
- http://www.photopoints.com/ – Photopoints is a website aimed at international photographers community, similar in it’s intent to http://photo.net/. You can create your own website, show your portfolio as well as comment /critique the work of others. The way information is sometimes presented can be confusing a bit, though.
- http://www.flickr.com/groups/photocritiqueforum/ – Although pretty any group on flickr is a great opportunity to view and critique photos made by other people, this particular group’s mission is to learn from their fellow photographers, through reviews and expert critique, which falls well in line with our own goals: learn photography through discussion and constructive critique.
When critiquing photographs made by other people try to keep in mind the following:
- Be polite and respectful of other people’s work.
- Comment: “Wow, great photo” is good for ego, but not really useful. If you like it, say why you like it, and what works well in your opinion.
- Negative critique can also be very helpful, if constructive. If you do not like someone’s photo, suggest how one should improve it. Some of the best critiques I have ever gotten were actually negative ones. I have learned tons from them.
Got any cool photography critique sites we don’t know about ? Let us know.
*special thanks to Kristian Bjornard for granting the use of the featured image