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A Guide to Critiquing Photographs

July 2001

    Judging is one skill, critiquing or commenting on pictures is another. To critique successfully requires a thorough knowledge of the basics of what makes a photograph pleasing, in addition to having an ability to communicate this knowledge and opinion.

    Generally there is no critique during OCPA competitions, however we invite the judges to comment after the judging is finished.

OCPA does have open critique sessions in which anyone present may make comments. For this to be constructive, the group should be trained or be familiar with the basics of a good picture before commenting.

    OCPA suggests that judges observe the following guidelines when offering either verbal or written comments on images:

1) Don't be unkind.
Ill placed comments and individual words that degrade or insult the image or the photographer have no place in this process. They are effective only at reducing membership.

2) Identify positive attributes for each image, and be constructive about any image problems.
It's important to be encouraging, especially for photographers who are just getting started. When there are problems, identify ways in which the photographer might improve the image or similar images in the future. Never simply state that an image isn't appealing or doesn't work; always identify the cause of the problem. If all you say is that you don't like the image, you aren't helping anyone.

3) Brevity is the soul of wit.

This guide was developed by:
John Dean, FPSA, Spokane Valley Camera Club
Max Burke, Boise Camera Club
Rick Charlton, Oregon Color Slide
    Carol Todd, Oregon Coast Photographers' Association
Ed Gervais, 4Cs Vice Chair, Boise Camera Club
Gordon Battaile, 4Cs Chair, Forest Grove Camera Club


Copyright 2001 OREGON COAST PHOTOGRAPHERS' ASSOCIATION, Inc. All rights reserved.
Version: 1.0
Revised: November 22, 2001