Is this picture good?

That is a common question a photographers ask themselves often. Learning how to self-critique your work can be tremendously helpful in your development. It’s especially beneficial when you are starting your photography journey and learning all the different components involved with photography. It is an effective way to measure your growth and increase confidence. But what do we look for when self-critiquing?

There are three important parts you should focus on when critiquing your own work:

  1. technical components
  2. artistic aspects
  3. goal setting

Each one of these plays an important role taking good photographs. I recommend you start with twenty of your best pictures and have a notebook and pen handy.

Technical Components

When you are first starting out with photography there are so many technical aspects to remember that taking pictures can become overwhelming and frustrating. Each picture does not need to be by the book, but there is a certain level your work needs to be at in order to get your message across. Look at each picture and ask yourself how is the focus, lighting, Depth Of Field, white balance, and exposure. Pick your strongest and weakest technical aspects in each. For example, maybe in one of your pictures your exposure is good, but the lighting is less then ideal. Write your evaluations in a notebook for each picture.

pink ballerina outfit on a hanger by Elise Cellucci

Artistic Components

This evolves the emotional aspect of the picture. There are universally accepted emotions in photographs: happy, sad, lonely, joy, fear, surprise, etc. Look at your subject and answer these questions.

  1. What emotions do you want the viewer to feel?
  2. How is your subject in relations to composition?
  3. What message are your trying to convey?
  4. Are there distractions causing your eye to wonder away?
  5. How will you process?
  6. Color or black and white?
  7. Does it convey your personal style?

Again, jot down your notes for each picture.

child playing with vacuum cords by Elise Cellucci

Setting Goals

Put it all together and create your action plan. Now that you have completed the first two exercises, look for patterns in your notes. Maybe they repeat good focus but off white balance. One goal might be to concentrate on correcting white balance. Make your goals as specific as possible.

Next make a plan. How will you work on it and when would you like to accomplish your goal? Maybe you need to do some research online, take a workshop, breakout, or ask for peer feedback. Write it down and review your list regularly. Once you accomplished one of your goals, celebrate your accomplishment. It will help to keep you motivated and moving along.

picture of kid getting into the kitchen cabinets by Elise Cellucci

Doing these exercises regularly will improve your photography. You will slow down, be more conscience of frame content, focus on your subject, and pay closer attention to you settings.

Your journey is yours. You only get out of it what you put into it. It takes practice, determination, and commitment to increase your skills. It might take some time, but the more pictures you take, the more you learn.