How to critique an image?

Calling all seasoned photogs of forum.
On what parameters do you critique an image?
suppose you have to rate an image on a scale of 10, how to do you rate it?
Ideally a critic shall express his opinion based on the following considerations,

a. Clarity of thought - A photograph should clearly express the thought / idea /concept behind the photograph as visioned by the Photographer. An aimless image shall go unnoticed / leave a confused impression on the viewers mind.

b. Clarity on the subject - A photograph sould clearly identify the main subject around which the photograph is framed. A large number of components fighting for attention will only ruin the image.

c. Harmony of elements - All elements in the image shall be harmonic to the nature of the subject and not contradict to it / make it seem unusual. A photograph showing a bird on tree perch shall appear more effective than the one sitting on an electric pole/ window grill. Like wise a bird eating fruits on trees shall appear more pleasant that a caged bird.

d. Clarity on mood - The light setting shall have to convey the mood of the image. A woman with Diwali lamps in hand will appear more natural if mild warm light is made to fall on her from the same angle as that of the lights, whereas using a bare flash would only ruin the image.

e. Active subjects - The image appears more impactful if the subjects are involved in an activity of natural instinct. Photograph of a person indulged in cutting wood / smoking / moulding a clay pot / pulling a cart would be more meaningful than an image of person just watching TV or a selfie taken at food court of a mall.

Critique for me is nothing but personal perspective and how I could make the image better than what it is.
Yeah critique is a personal perspective. There is no right or wrong approach. But imagine if you have to rate an image on a scale of 10, what factors would you consider for that?


Where is the remote?
Critiquing is often the most important and seldom emphasised aspect of visual arts. Thanks @Ankur003 for raising the issue. It is almost impossible to stuff that broad an issue here. Still , I try to share my half-cooked thoughts here.

  • The first step of pertaining critique is to alienate one's own ideas and opinions. The most important challenge is to wear the shoe of the photographer. One must understand what the photographer wanted to achieve ? For that close interaction with him is necessary. It is almost impossible to impart meaningful critique without knowing the photographer and the time & place of the photograph itself. This also the cause behind online critiquing often ending up in being futile exercise.
  • Once the photographer's intention is understood, the two factors of aesthetics and technicalities have to be dealt separately. In terms of aesthetics I mean to what degree the photographer could achieve his objective. For instance, say the photographer depicted a market place. Was it his intention to show the busy character of the place? Has he succeeded in imparting that? Do you feel the rush of traders/customers , the piles of goods , the excitement of business , by just looking at the photo? Or was the photographer intended to showcase the daily rigour and pointless material side of it ? Then perhaps he would make the vacant stare of a solitary seller. At the same marketplace the intention of the photographer would dictate hundreds of different compositions. We have to understand the intention first before judging whether he has been able to do justice with it.
  • Critiquing about the technical aspect demands understanding the limitation of the gear used, the speed at which the photographer had to work ( conversely the time which he had at his disposal) and the light that prevailed on the day. Once you take them into consideration , you can critique the placement of subject, framing , depth, sharpness, subject isolation, the clarity as well as post processing etc. Here one must NOT BE OPINIONATED. If you critique like " the blue is a tad high to my liking" , then you are doing it wrong. Your job is to identify whether the blue is too saturated according to the colour scheme of the picture, a Ladakh frame would accommodate much deeper tone of blue while a cityscape would not. This alienation of our own perceptions and to merge with the frame is the biggest challenge.
  • The job of the critic is to identify the strong and weak points of the image and to put forward suggestions for improvement. So delivery of critique is equally important. High handed and aloof manner won't work. You sometimes have to be a bit diplomatic for the good of your student. If he is not receptive to your suggestions, because of your rude and condescending behaviour then the whole point is lost.