Evaluating an image – Helen Whitford

Helen has been judging for a number of years and has a good reputation as a judge among the clubs she has visited.

Below is her list of questions used to guide interpretation of images.  Jelen presented this list at a guided critique session in the club in February 2017. At the top of the list is a reminder that all perception of art is subjective and there is no right or wrong.   It was a useful session.  In Helen’s own words:

“My own view was that the questions did seem to empower people to talk about the images with some authority.  My aim was to give people a language to use, and that seemed to work.  The fact that I had difficulty finding a spot in the conversation to interrupt and ask the next question indicated that people were really engaged and I was rapt that I couldn’t shut them up at 9.30!”

I hope that this is a useful resource.


All perception of art is subjective.  There’s no right or wrong!

  1. Impact – Does the image have a “wow” factor for you.
  2. Emotion – Does it make you feel something?
  3. Story Telling – Does it “take you there”?
  4. Light – “Photograph” means “light picture”  How do the quality, colour and direction of light affect the image?  
  5. Technical Factors.  (help to create the above)
    1. Composition.
      1. Is your eye drawn to the main subject?
      2. Does the composition “sit well” for you, or does it disturb you?
      3. Are there any distractions which draw your eye away from what you want to be looking at
    2. Focus.  Are the “right” parts  in focus?  Is selective focus used to draw your eye?
    3. Exposure. Is it over or under exposed?  How does that affect the way you perceive the image?
    4. Presentation. choice of paper, print quality issues such as colour noise, banding, halos, over sharpening can all affect how we perceive the quality of the image.
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