How to read a photograph

To read a photo means to interpret the photo, analyze it, dissect it, strive to understand it, and to derive meaning from it.

Break it down

First step is to break down the photo and ask yourself:

What was the photographer’s intent here?

Furthermore —

How does the photograph make me feel?

Also a tip: use an app like Procreate to sketch and deconstruct compositions you like, and try to figure out what makes it tick.

For example the below photo, I love the direct eye contact of Cindy, as well as the triangular arm gesture.

Let the image marinate in your mind’s eye

When you read a photo, linger on it. Contemplate on how it makes you feel, and whether you feel the image empowers you (or weakens you).

In street photography, I like to photograph strong individuals. They inspire me to become stronger!

How I put together the image in procreate in ipad:

Procreate layers
Procreate layers on iPad

Upload your photos to is a great place for you to share your photos, to get honest and real feedback on your photos. Furthermore, you can give real critique on the photos of others.

A cool function we added in ARS — the ability to ask for more detailed commissioned critiques.

And this is the great thing:

By critiquing the photos of others, you can better analyze the photos of others and of your own photos!

Or in other words, critique the photos of others to become a better critic of your own photos!

Reading the composition

When reading a photo, analyze the shapes, forms, and composition.

Another tip:

When analyzing compositions, start off from the edges, then look at what’s happening in the center of the frame!

What’s the story?

Fort Bragg Cindy

When reading a photo, try to come up with a little story. For example, the relationship between the shadow figure on the bottom of the frame (me) and the silhouette of the person on top (Cindy).