6 Tips To Write A Helpful Online Review

Before The Storm

I was taught letter writing, essay writing, précis writing but never taught to write a review for a book, movie, service or product in school. This is a valuable style of writing to learn these days, because the kind of thinking I need to use in writing reviews is the same kind of thinking required to make intelligent choices in life.

I’m no Roger Ebert, I don’t post reviews for a living. But when I do, I merely want to help others make up their mind.

Having said that, I routinely check reviews before buying a new gadget, booking a hotel or trying a new restaurant, fully aware that these reviews on Amazon, Trip Advisor or Zomato are usually useless and angry and others are so glowing that they cant be real. The best ones walk between and regardless of reviewer experience, they offer up the kind of information that’s invaluable when making a decision.

So, here’s my fool-proof template for writing a good review:

  1. Pros
  2. Cons
  3. Comparisons
  4. Pictures
  5. Inside Information
  6. Personalization

Bored

And this here is my review of our wedding photographer – Mahesh Shantaram

Intro: When my husband and I decided to get married, we planned to have separate wedding parties in Mumbai and Bangalore to accommodate our respective families. We had a great wedding planner in Mumbai who took care of everything for us. But since we did everything on our own in Bangalore, one of my tasks was to find a photographer that matched our sensibilities. With no references, I turned to my trusty friend, the internet and googled ‘best wedding photographers in Bangalore’ and quickly started going through the websites, facebook pages and comments of all the ‘top’ Bangalore-based photographers.

Pros:

When I found Mahesh Shantaram online, I knew I’d found “the one”.

Being from the creative industry myself, I knew what style of photography I wanted for our wedding. His photo journalistic style, artistic approach, fantastic eye for composition, along with his modern post production style were exactly what I was after. Before the big day, Mahesh took the time to get to know us and explore our personalities. He had a calm presence, was friendly and worked discreetly. He also dressed up for the occasion and we liked that. He was prompt and flexible with his fees and hours. Most of all, he was the ONLY photographer who respected our need for privacy and readily agreed to NOT share our photos ANYWHERE. I had to say no to the photo books that his associate/wife Vidya Rao offered to make for us since I had just spent a lot of time digitizing my late mother’s moldy old photo albums.

Audience

Cons: Limited photos as opposed to the thousands that a neighborhood photo studio will give you. No videos. The brooding melancholy in Mahesh’s photos may not be everyone’s cup of tea. He’s quite assertive when he needs to be and may not take your requests to come hither and thither to click pictures. You need to trust him to find the moments and do his thing and it can be difficult for some to let go.

There will surely be no posey photos of you accepting ‘envelopes’, ‘presentations’ from your guests on the ‘stage’.

Comparisons: 1. Our Mumbai photog was great – our wedding photos are no different from that of any celeb wedding. Its People Magazine material. 2. We eventually hired an additional photographer as recommended by Mahesh for the more de rigeur, old school, canned staged shots. We were surprised to find that photos from the second photographer we engaged in Bangalore were better than we expected – they were far from posey, he brought an entire team with him, each with different styles, fancy gear, unique angles, the works. End result – hundreds of Fun+Festive+Candid+Happy Photos.

3. Mahesh Shantaram on the other hand is an artist, he managed to capture the beauty, emotion and essence of the day. Each of his pictures tells a story. They are works of art.

Family

Conclusion: Most photographers have a cookie cutter approach to capturing a wedding, Mahesh doesn’t.

We wondered aloud if he was an invisible man because of the way he had captured our guests in their elements.

Overall, he had a unique style, was professional, skilled, soft-spoken and flexible. We love and cherish each photo he clicked – engaging Mahesh’s services was the best wedding present we gave ourselves.

The Final Word: Our wedding was shot years ago. Today, Mahesh is a celebrated documentary photographer who has exhibited his ‘Matrimania’ project across the world, including at the Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai, Photoquai, Musée du Quai Branly in Paris and PhotoPhnomPenh in Cambodia, GetxoPhoto in Spain.

Currently, he has a new exhibit at Tasveer Gallery in Bangalore titled ‘The African Portraits’. The exhibition is on view at Tasveer till 23.09.2016.

Enough said!

Do you write reviews of products, restaurants, or services that you’ve tried? Do you  trust the reviews you’ve read? Share your thoughts on better review writing, in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “6 Tips To Write A Helpful Online Review

  1. This is thoroughly informative… I write a lot of comments and reviews everyday. It’s always very personal. I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind because the kind of reviews I trust are always balanced – like u say.

  2. Reviews r a great help in taking decisions. But I get badly disappointed to read negative reviews on the product that I am desperate to buy. I am always proven wrong whenever I’ve gone ahead with buying stuff ignoring the negative reviews. 😐

    1. I remember a thoroughly nightmarish hotel experience – the hotel website was great but I hadn’t checked reviews at all at the time of booking. After that day – I always check reviews. Comments and reviews are the best part of the Internet. Trolls are bad but thoroughly entertaining too.

  3. Trying to map your theory (sections 1 to 6) with your examples. I can see 1, 2 and 3. Pictures (4) are obvious. Am puzzled with 5 : inside information. Where ? Spread everywhere ? Personalisation (6) must be your conclusion. More puzzling with ‘the final word’. Is it yet related to the review? Sounds like an ad, no ? More seriously, tell me the message I read in your selected pictures about the role of men and women in the Indian society ? And their (behavioural) participation to a wedding ? This photo of you is just wonderful. Thank you for displaying it.

    1. Thank you Michel- u say the nicest things! ByInside info I mean info that’s not readily available in an ad or the official website. For example, the fact that Mahesh was flexible with fees is info only a person who has used his service will know/Or things about his personality/ working style – like he will not click posey photos even when you ask him to. By personalization, I mean don’t just talk about eating at a restaurant – make it a bit personal – by saying we went for our 5th anniversary dinner etc. Be truthful though. About your wedding questions – Let’s talk about it or maybe even go to one soon. The final word is unrelated to the review but does reiterate Mahesh’s recognized expertise today. I listed his current exhibition details because I want to encourage art in any way I can.

  4. No smoke without fire. So it’s natural for me to get cautious if I read too many bad reviews about any product/service. As long as reviews are unbiased they hold value.

  5. I tend to read only the bad reviews bcos i don’t trust the good ones. reviews have certainly changed the way we shop.

  6. Recently I saw lots of top food bloggers post 5 star reviews about Taj Memories of China. It’s a done thing these days to give free meals to these people in return for reviews. Everything is for sale these days.

  7. I like yr style. It is pretty close to what I understood during my working. Was not qualified but completed my school studies. Yr expression is natural n classic. God bless u n yr work.

  8. i make sure i write a review when I’ve had a really bad experience. i believe its imp. to warn others. customer service in india used to be non-existent. we are also such bad tippers.

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