Image Critique Guidelines

Mariposa Photo Club
Image Critique Guidelines

Keys To A Good Critique

  • Be positive and gentle! Offer critiques with the intent to help.
  • Keep the skill level of the photographer in mind
  • Don’t alter the message of the image
  • Recognize your personal biases (e.g. – Brent likes portrait images, long focal lengths, shallow depth of field and strong color and contrast)

IMPACT Reigns Supreme!

Remember – photographs can be successful and break the rules if they have IMPACT!

Technical Considerations

  • Is the image in focus?
  • Is there unintentional motion blur or camera shake?
  • Is the image properly exposed? Are there blocked up shadows or blown highlights?
  • Is the depth-of-field appropriate?
  • Is the lighting too flat, too contrasty or just right?
  • Is the white balance correct? Are the colors too saturated or too muted?

Compositional Elements

  • Is it obvious what the subject is?
  • Is the image oriented appropriately, horizontal vs. vertical?
  • Centered / Rule of Thirds / Golden Mean
  • Are there distracting elements in the frame and/or background
  • Is the horizon straight?
  • Is the focal length appropriate?
  • Is the camera angle or perspective flattering and appropriate?
  • Is there space for the subject to move through the frame?
  • Is the subject chopped or cropped inappropriately?


  • Could the image be improved with (additional) post-processing?
  • Was the post-processing over-done?

Unhelpful Examples

  • “Wow” / “I like it” / “It’s nice” / “It’s beautiful” / “It works for me”
  • “I don’t like it” / “It’s ugly” / “I don’t get it”

Helpful Examples

  • “The subject of this portrait is beautifully lit, color and skin tones look accurate and her eyes are sharp and in focus. However the tip of the nose appears to be a bit soft or out of focus, so I think a smaller aperture should have been used to achieve a larger depth-of-field and make sure that all of the facial elements are in focus.”
  • “You can clearly see that the bird is the subject, and the red coloring against the white snowy background really makes it stand out. I feel that cropping the image to get the subject off center by following the rule-of-thirds would make this image even stronger.”