Our primary goals are to strengthen the photographic eye and skills of every travel photographer through thoughtful, constructive feedback, and to provide a interactive, fun environment where photographers can share their collective knowledge and stories from experiences while traveling around the globe. To maintain our sense of community, we require all members to follow these guidelines.
Take note of your initial, subjective response to the image (gut-feel) and start your comments there. Before you make any recommendations on the technicals of ‘how to improve’ the image, try to assess what theme, sensation or idea the image is trying to convey. Is the main purpose of the image merely to illustrate the details of a specific place (illustrative)? Does the image reach further to our unconscious and try to convey something else (evocative)? Maybe the image’s main purpose, in addition to showing us an interesting place, is to convey a strong emotion, idea or sensation. Keep this in mind before you begin to ‘improve’ the elements in the picture.
Once you’ve attempted to grasp the main thrust of the image, you are better able to see if its necessary to lighten or darken, or remove something, or crop to the rule of thirds. Remember that there are other types of composition that can often more eloquently evoke or describe the feeling, idea/theme/story, sensation that the image is expressing.
Consider other composition-types: central placement, symmetry vs asymmetry, geometric composition where the dominating features are strong geometrical lines and shape, curvilinear composition. Many of these may be included in one image, but usually one stands out above the others in combination with ‘what is the image telling me’.
Mere nitpicking is often a result of the viewer not paying attention to the core of what the image is trying to convey. Avoid this at all costs. Think/look/feel with empathy and put your own likes and dislikes on hold while you try to grasp the emotion, theme or sensation that is being expressed in the an image.
Friend and TPN Founder Jim Erhardt offers some excellent information on image critique on NaturePhotographers.net.