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Becoming a Great Photographer - By Shiiizzzam

Lesson Four Pages that link to <a href="https://ozoneasylum.com/backlink?for=5676" title="Pages that link to Lesson Four" rel="nofollow" >Lesson Four\

The lessons I'm posting were done by John Setzler sixstring. He's a awesome photographer and taught me everything I know about photography. He gave me the following lessons to share here with others to help new photographers learn how to get started or even help if you feel you need to climb out of a slump. He has prints and a awesome gallery

Lesson 4: Commenting/Critiquing

This lesson highlights an element of becoming a better photographer that doesn't involve holding a camera in your hand or having any general knowledge of photography at all. You need no experience. You need no technical knowledge. You need no clue about anything in particular. Absolutely anyone who can see can comment and critique a photograph.

When you view a photograph, there are going to be three basic categories of classification for those images.

1 - You don't like it.

2 - It's ok but noting amazing.

3 - It's a good photo.

Of course, there are many more sub categories because more advanced 'eyes' will break things down into a lot more complex set of views.

There are a couple good rules of thumb to use when commenting and critiquing photographs. The most important rule is:

Don't comment on an element that you don't understand.

This simply means that if you make a technical comment on exposure or a compositional comment on placement of subject in the photograph, you do need to make sure you know what you are talking about. Why? Because if you make some technically charged comment that is completely wrong, nothing else you say will matter.

You should only include items in your comment that you are comfortable with. Let's take a look at each of the three basic classifications above and see how we can use those to form a comment on a photograph...

1 - You don't like it.

If you don't like it, there must be a reason or reasons. Your job as a commenter is to put these reasons into words. This is not always easy and the choice of words you use to describe your opinion is most important. No matter how bad you think the photo is, you should use tact in relaying that feeling to the photographer.

Some simple reasons that people don't like photographs are as follows:

You simply don't like the subject of the photo. The subject choice has no meaning to you... It may be photographed from some perspective that doesn't make anything interesting stand out. The photograph may also be a simple poor quality image. There may be too much light... not enough light... too dark... too bright... The photo may be offensive to you in some way. You may not like the message being sent by the photo. These are all elements of a photograph that you can write in a comment.

2 - It's ok but not amazing.

These photos are more difficult to comment on sometimes. They fall into a range where there isn't anything truly exciting about the photo, but there is nothing dramatically wrong with it either. Once again, subject choice is probably a culprit in the mediocrity of the photograph. The photo may have potential to be a good photo with a little extra effort... a little planning... a little concentration... a little patience... In a situation like this, a good comment may include a suggestion for improvement.

3 - It's a good photo.

These seem to be the easiest to comment on. When you like a photo, it's usually fairly easy to write something about what you like. There are strong elements of the photograph that touch you in some way... it's a strong subject... it's an emotional photograph... it's artistic in ways.... it's worthy of hanging on the wall as a print... The color is strong... there is an appealing mood shown in the photograph...

Each of these sections gives you some basis to formulate a comment. I have basically presented comments that could actually be used with some specifics added to them to make them fit the particular photograph in question. You can always start simple and elaborate as much as you like.

Be Tactful When You Comment:

When you write a comment that is negative in any way, put yourself in the receiver's shoes. How would you feel if the comment was left on your photo?

Try to use positive words to describe negative things.... Example:

Negative: This photo stinks. The lighting sucks, your composition is no good, and the details are blown out. Too bad you chose to do this...

Positive: This photo doesn't impress me. The lighting is not strong enough for the subject, the centered composition doesn't seem to work as well as an off-centered composition would, and the photo is over exposed causing loss of detail in the highlights. I believe that a little closer attention to detail would improve the image significantly...

These two comments say the same thing. One leaves a lot better impression of the commenter than the other does...

Now, the real question is... How does this improve my photography?

In my personal experience, I believe that leaving comments has been one of the single most important elements of my own improvements over time. When I write a comment, I am actually studying a photograph and formulating a written opinion. My opinions usually include what I think is good or bad about a photo. It may also include suggestions for improvement. After doing this over and over on thousands of photographs, the thoughts that I write down stick with me when I'm working on photos of my own. I remember things I have said in the past... especially the negative things... These comments remain in the forefront of my mind and they help keep me from making the mistakes I have commented on when i'm shooting.

Commenting on a lot of photos is gruelling sometimes. It's a good idea to do just a few at a time and do that consistently.

Give it a try and see if it helps you

Related FAQs:
Lesson One
Lesson Two
Lesson Three

Related Threads:

Lesson One
Lesson Two
Lesson Three
Lesson Four

(Added by: Skaarjj on Sat 30-Aug-2003)

(Edited by: Skaarjj on Sat 30-Aug-2003)

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