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Fast-track NCTJ student James McAllister, shares how to write a review after he visited the Brighton Photo Biennial…

I’ve always thought that the only thing you need in order to write a review is an opinion. But you also need to know how to articulate those opinions on the page.

Even with all the experience I have had reviewing films before, covering the Brighton Photo Biennial was a perfect opportunity to broaden my skills by writing about an artistic medium that I never had before; photography. One thing in particular that struck me was how much more disciplined I had to be translating my notes into copy. There’s always a temptation to simply write up everything noted down, but reviews should be pithy, and any repetition is likely to just encourage your audience to stop reading.

Despite their nature, reviews are not simply tools to judge the work of others; they’re a device to help broaden the artistic conversation. Going out to review the Biennial allowed my course mates and I the chance to be immersed in art that engaged us on more than just a creative level; the politically charged focus of this year’s Biennale allowing us to explore our own personal beliefs and attitudes through the art. And, what’s more, it was fun day out to boot.

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