Photographic Intangibles

As a photographer, I spend an enormous amount of time looking at images, understanding what draws me in or determining what isn’t working. When I look at an image with a critical eye there are two intangibles that I am really searching for – concept and creativity.


Most images will evoke some kind of reaction from the viewer. A memory will come forth or a feeling of newness for something never experienced. You will feel warmth and security for something you like and coldness from something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

So, what is the message or theme the photographer is trying to convey? Is the message overt or hidden? What moved them to compose the shot? Do you feel any emotion towards the subject matter? An artist loves to make their viewers think about their art and will enjoy hearing your interpretation.

Things to ask yourself when critiquing an image:

  • What am I feeling when I view this image?
  • Is there an idea being conveyed?
  • Do I form a connection to the artist or relate to the image?
  • Is there a story that is being told?
  • Is the story or emotion being conveyed well by the artist?


Creativity (or creativeness) is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work (Oxford).

When you see a creative image, it stimulates your mind by being both imaginative and original. When you view something that you have never seen before or it is something familiar but seen in a new way – it captures your attention.

Things to ask yourself when critiquing an image:

  • What makes this image original or different?
  • What about this image makes it stand out from other similar types of images?
  • Is there something about this image that makes you wonder “how did they do that?”
  • What about this image caught your eye?

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