How Offering and Receiving Critiques Can Help You Grow


When I received my first DSLR in May 2011, I just wanted to take great photos of my kids.  I soon realized that a great camera does not necessarily make a great photograph- the person behind the lens does.  I quickly became obsessed with learning everything I could about photography.

Most of what I have learned has been through reading tutorials, participating on photography forums, and tons (and I mean TONS) of practice.   Constructive critique groups have been a key aspect in my growth as a photographer.  Critiquing others’ images gives me a critical eye on my own photography and the advice from other people looking at my work is often invaluable.

A lot of people probably feel that they don’t have enough knowledge or experience to critique a photograph.  But no matter where you are on your journey, you do have something to offer.  I’m going to share a few simple tips for critiquing a photo and how to start your own group.

Critiquing A Photograph

Look at the Technical

Is the image properly exposed?  Does the white balance (color) look correct? Is the subject in focus?  Does the editing enhance the image or does it take away from it? 

Look at the Light

Where is the light coming from?  Does it flatter and enhance the subject?  

Look at the Composition

Did the photographer center the subject or use the rule of thirds? Are there any awkward limb chops or distracting elements?  Is the environment used in a way that enhances or diminishes from the subject?

How does the image make you feel?

Is there a connection between the subject and the viewer?  Does the photograph tell a story?

Forming a Criticism Group

Where To Find Other Photographers

Photography forums. My first groups were (and still are) on the photography forum  You can find a spot in an established group, or recruit members to form a new one. 

Facebook.  There are a number of large photography groups where you can recruit members and form your own small private group. 

Decide On The Structure Of Your Group

How many members do you want?  I recommend about 5 members.  Each member picks one day a week to post a few images.

Pick a theme.  What genre of photography do you want to focus on?  Family portraiture? Newborns?  Fine Art?   Some groups are more loosely structured; some have weekly or monthly themes.

Be Encouraging and Stay Committed!

Try to stay positive and make sure you are being constructive.  Keep up with your group and make sure you treat people as you would like to be treated. Try not to compare your work to others work, but allow them to inspire you.  If life gets busy, let your members know that you need to take a break for a while.  I have made some great friends in my groups and it has been so rewarding for us to watch each other grow!


Bonnie Cornelius, owner of Bonnie Iris Photography, is a newborn and family photographer in Macon, Georgia.  She is having the time of her life on this photography journey, and is always striving to be a better photographer today than she was yesterday. You can find her on Facebook, or you might run into her on your favorite photography forum!