General Photography

Critique or how to judge

Posted by: CoDa on Sun Apr 15, 2012 15:51
This article has come about as a result of a forum member asking for "somebody to critique my critique", just by coincidence the article below arrived by post the same day.
Original Article Copyright © 2012 Bedford Camera Club. All Rights Reserved. Copied with permission of the president.
Any text in italics I have inserted and these are my own observations.

A recent book 'Looking at Photographs', which Ken Holland, ARPS DPAGB, wrote from the point of view of a judge, prompted me to wonder if there might be anything useful in it for us as exhibitors. (On forums or elsewhere)
He is careful to stress that the thoughts he propounds are personal. I have simply extracted his thoughts about what constitutes a 'good photograph' from the book and to which I will give more consideration, before taking another photograph.
Ken suggests that communication is of the essence and at least one of the following functions should be fulfilled.

Is it a personal statement?
Is it a technical record, i.e. a record shot?
Is it a personal record?
So my first question is - Why am I taking this picture?
Ken then goes on to ask himself the following additional questions.
These are not in any order of priority and it is accepted that all take practice.
• How well has the information been conveyed?
• What did the photographer have in mind when taking the shot?
• A technically perfect shot may be quite uninteresting if the subject matter is boring. Look for something even slightly out of the ordinary which many people would not notice in everyday life.
So I have listed a few additional thoughts that Ken would be having whilst judging in order to address the questions outlined above.
• The principal subject should be clearly defined.
Is it? 'KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid.''
Although interpretation is always personal does the interpretation do the subject justice?
• Has the image achieved its purpose? Does 1: have impact?
• Would the subject benefit from a different format?
• Would a filter, or lack of, make any difference?
• Would the subject be better placed elsewhere?
• What depth of field is best?
• Look for psychological links and contrasts. Ken gives the example of a clown and a nun sitting together!
• Visual contrast gives impact.
• How is the eye encouraged to 'read" the image?
The closing chapters of his book deal with general considerations for any picture as well as what he would look for in judging a variety of photographic genres.

To sum up:-
Why have you taken this image in the first place? What are you trying to show the viewer?
Reference: Royal Photographic Society magazine, December 2012/January 2012, Volume 151 Number 10
The booklet can be obtained from (£4.00 + £1.00 post) if bought directly from Ken. More if purchased from the publisher.

Diana Moss (President)

A Checklist for the Judge
At the request of the PAGB, Ken Holland produced this checklist for judging.

Watch good judges at work.
Ask why a picture was made, not how.
Appraise, assess and analyse.
Evaluate the whole image.
Talk about emotional aspects as well as technical.
Manage your time.
Make three positive comments about each image. Smile often.
Suggest ways an image might be improved. Assess the quality of the photography. Remember it's not an exact science.

Pass judgement. Repeat yourself. Lecture.
Explain how a picture was taken, or made in Photoshop.
Display your personal prejudices.
Insist on the "rules".
Try to crop every image.
Display too many irritating mannerisms.
Touch the image with your fingers.
Dissect an image into small pieces.
Praise mediocre work too highly.

Be confident and enjoy it.
Be brief and concise.
Be honest.
Be a "critical friend".
Be modest.
Be open minded.
Be punctual.
Be helpful and encourage high standards.
Be fair.
Be informed and unbiased.
Be friendly, humorous, light-hearted and respectful.
Be entertaining and interesting.
Be enthusiastic.

So that's how to view or judge or give critique as seen by Ken & Diana

There now follows two photo's that I recently entered into our Living World competition. The outline was if it's a living object then it can be included. I have included some of the comments from the judge.

This swan photo received the following comment " this fits the criteria well, but the white on the bill needs toning down" I did miss that when looking at it before I entered it.

The panorama photo below had a comment of "even though there is life in and around the water, in this competition it does not match the criteria completely"

Several other photo's did receive the same type of comments.

I hope this will help others when they look at there images before they submit them into competitions.

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