View Full Version : Image Critique Perspectives

Jason Hahn
12-28-2007, 07:57 AM
Hi all,

The lighthouse shot I posted in the Landscapes forum got me to thinking about our perspectives when we make critiques. So I figured I would start the day of with a "stir up debate and get thinkin' about our thought processes behind making image critiques" post:).

So the question I have for the group here is, when you critique, do you look at it from a "hang it on the living room wall" fine art perspective, from an editorial or stock perspective, or a blend of various perspectives?

Using the lighthouse shot as an example, this is one of those shots that definitely has some compositional "issues", but it sells very well from a stock photo standpoint. From a fine art "hang it on your living room wall" perspective, I definitely agree with the placement suggestions and bottom crop, these were very well made points by the group. But using this image as a case study, the large negative spaces and the particular placement of the lighthouse in the frame are the same things that make the image a good seller for stock. The black area is a natural place to lay in text or graphics, as is the sky on the left, and the comp lends itself to all sorts of layouts. It works for a two page spread, with the lighthouse falling just left of the crease, it can be cropped to the more fine art look as you all have suggested, or it can be cropped vertically for a one page or cover, with room above the lighthouse for a masthead. As an example one sale was for a greeting card line, the final layout used the black area for the greeting card text. On the flip side in art sales I have only sold it once as an 8x10 print in my local galleries, and it sells okay as part of my notecard series.

Cruising the net, most sites out there seem to lean heavily towards the fine art side in their critique perspectives. While that is certainly a great way to learn composition theory do we risk having photographers bury good saleable images on their hard drives if they receive critiques based only in this one perspective?

Hope that was all vaguely coherent, haven't had my coffee yet this AM


James Shadle
12-28-2007, 09:37 AM
You bring up a great point. You might want to mention the thought process when creating an image like this.
You could say I created this image with a "loose" composition for editors to crop to taste or I have found this type of composition sells well to those who plan on "hanging it on the wall". It could help other sell more images!

Maxis Gamez
12-28-2007, 08:38 PM
You have a very valid point here Jason. I really don't have a specific field in mind. Once I look at an image, I immediately know in which category falls into at least in my mind. With that said, I have to agree with James by giving a little more detail regarding your image.

That was an very nice image I would hang in my wall ")

George DeCamp
12-28-2007, 08:51 PM

Man, you got my attention here. I think sometimes we crop just too much, not always but sometimes. I had it in the back of my mind this year to concentrate on leaving more space in my images. I am just starting to appreciate more "environment" in the shots and the FF bird shots sometimes make me wonder why not a smaller bird and show a little more water or whatever is around him. Of course that does not always work either but for some reason I too like a little more space in my shots so I can see where you are coming from.

Alfred Forns
12-29-2007, 04:26 AM
Jason I had not even given a thought to anything other than hanging on the wall You do make sense with your points

I think with James suggestion it will be clear what you are trying to do

D. Robert Franz
12-29-2007, 09:14 AM
I tend to with an eye towards editorial/stock since that's my primary income source.. I hope to be able to critque with a blend of perpectives. I do think the tight portrait is over done and gets boring. Animalscapes and birdscapes can be far more interesting albiet a more difficult to pull off successfully. As far as what James says I think thats an excellent point and I have mentioned my motives for my compositional thinking in the past.

D. Robert Franz
12-29-2007, 09:17 AM
Just a quick follow up.. The very best wildlife photos will tell a story. Sometimes the viewer doesn't have the background to understand what is actually happening. It helps to explain the story in your description....

Arthur Morris
12-30-2007, 08:27 PM
I pretty much look at an image and note the impact. Did I feel something? Was I moved? Was I in awe? That said, I think that I look at images from a blend of perspectives both as fine art and as potential stock. You could almost add a third category, magazine and field guide portraits which are totally different from the images that a large, rights contolled agency might grab.

Great thread Jason. Way to go.

later and love,


Robert Amoruso
01-02-2008, 05:56 AM
I just look at it from the art side in making comments. However I do compose shots differently for some of my sales outlets.

Is that right or wrong as far as critiquing goes here?