The Art of Critique, Part 1: Creating a Successful Photograph
Part 1 of 5 in our series discussing the role of critique in our growth as photographers and artists.
Photography, as with any of the visual arts is a vehicle for self-expression that transcends the limits of language. A visual image conveys how and what the artist sees and feels when connecting with the world without relying on words to tell the story.
Images that have the most impact and meaning for the photographer and the viewer will be those that successfully communicate something that touches the mind, heart or soul in some way. What that is may not be able to be fully put into words specifically because the visual medium speaks to us in ways that words cannot.
As a photographer and artist our first step in creating images with impact is to quiet the mental chatter and reflect on what is drawing us to spend more than a passing glance at a subject or scene. We can ask ourselves, “what is drawing me to engage with this subject or scene?” With practice, your inner voice will begin to guide you in seeing what is most and least important to you personally within the scene. Knowing that, is the key to creating a pleasing and balanced composition that will communicate your feelings and intent most powerfully. How you execute that vision or express that intent technically and artistically is the next step, and where critiques can be most helpful.
Ansel Adams expressed a similar idea in his statement:
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” — Ansel Adams
NOTE: The approach we share is by no means a complete or definitive philosophy. It is simply a consolidation of what we have learned in our decades of exploring and growing in our photography practice. And what we have learned by participating in numerous informal and formal critique groups. We hope these insights will be helpful in your own photography journey.