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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to Assess and Analyze a Good Photo

After a shoot, it’s time to go through all the images you’ve taken and pull out the good ones. But what makes a good photo? Let’s look at how to assess and analyze your images.

In this article, I’m mainly going to focus on assessing your own work to see which of your images are strong and have potential, but you can use the same process to look critically at the photos you see every day. Looking at great photos and asking yourself why they work (or just as good, looking at bad photos and asking yourself why they don’t work) is one of the best ways to learn about photography. If you’re one of the regular readers of my tutorials, I will encourage you to look critically at every one of the images I post; they’re not perfect so pull apart what you think works and what doesn’t. Just remember, if there’s an image you hate, I chose it deliberately to test you—or at least that’s my excuse.

Now, let’s break it all down.

Step One: Do You Like It?

The first step when reviewing your images is simple: what’s your gut reaction to it? Do you like the shot? Hate it? Somewhere in between? If you don’t like an image you shot, flag it as a reject in Lightroom or whatever catalog app you’re using. There’s not much point continuing to consider an image if your initial reaction is indifference.

Here’s a photo pulled at random from my collection that I rejected straight away. There’s not much to like: my dog is posing awkwardly, the composition isn’t great, and it’s all a bit meh.

With other people’s images, even if your initial reaction is indifference, you should at least consider why you feel that way. Is it the subject matter? The composition? The colors? Is it just a mediocre snapshot? Think it through.

Step Two: Technical Assessment

Technically assessing an image boils down to two big questions: is it sharp and is it well exposed? If the answer to either question is no, even if you love the image, it’s probably worth killing at this stage.

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