Hello Madison and welcome to the YNAP site.
I completely understand when you say that you don’t mind hearing the compliments. Are they really complimenting me or are they just being nice?
First things first, don’t rely on friends and family for constructive criticism. Unless you have that type of family dynamic where everyone is brutally honest with each other or a member is a professional or established photographer or has an unarguable sense of artistic taste. Your friends and family mean well, but the compliments are not that helpful, they just don’t want to hurt your feelings.
That being said, after looking at your images, I think you have potential, but there isn’t really much to go by. From what you presented, you have an artistic eye but need to work on the fundamentals a bit. Given your age and that you probably have not been shooting long at all, this is good. I encourage you to shoot more and when your done, shoot more. Use the things around you to get different angles and perspectives.
The fundamentals are basically composing your shot, using your available light or adding light and expressing your thoughts through the image(s). There are more to learn but that comes in time and experience. I see that you are experimenting with long exposures and various camera tricks, this is good, but you need to know what is going on to get the full benefit from these tricks.
The one thing I see with the images that you provided are:
The Cat Roar – Cute, off-center(composure), but good to work with the things around you. The focus is a little off, they should be on the eyes, especially with a shallow DOF.
The foot Bridge – Good use of leading lines. Don’t particularly care for the sepia tone, but that’s me. I may have used a lower perspective to fill the frame with the bridge, but then again, that’s me.
Just a Kid – Good thing to remember, in most cases when shooting kids, is to shoot from their perspective. Basically looking down on them or looking up at them gives it a whole new meaning, unless it is for a certain look. You shot it at the right height and it looks good in B&W. Color may have been too distracting for this image, so not bad.
The Baby Photo – Good thing to remember is to prep your subjects before shooting. I see tons of dog or cat hair all over this baby and the sheet looks dirty. You have to have a keen eye for detail and if you can’t remove it before shooting you have to be able to see and work with it in post.
The Dark – Not sure what you were going with on this. Maybe a little more exposure on the bottom right corner would help the viewer (like me) understand the image and what you were trying to do. If this were in a series of photos with the same theme, I may have gotten it. Remember, if your photos or portfolio looks scattered, then you will lose your audience, try using a progressive theme to convey your message. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or a ton of photos, but you have to lead your viewer to where you want them to go.
Time Stands Still – Not sure, I think I see what you were trying to do but it just was not executed like you planned, or so it seems. Here me out. You labeled it “Time Stands Still” The emphasis is on Time, so I would have zoomed or cropped in to the subject to bring Time into the forefront. As I see it, the focus is taken away by the vast background, too may things to see except the subject.
Also try using a polarizer filter for the glare on the clock face, there are really no tools in post that can do this, so the filter is the best way. The Polarizing filter or some call it a Circular Polarizer removes reflects from water and glass, darkens skies and can even help to bring out some details in clouds and other things.
Don’t get discouraged and don’t take criticism the wrong way, build upon it. If someone says that your photos are bad, ask them what is bad about them and use that as fuel for your next one. You will always meet some people that will will tell you that all your stuff is awesome, beautiful photos, you have an eye for photography, but unless it helps you to progress at your craft, it’s all just fluff.
Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful to hear compliments, just don’t get hung up on them, that’s when you stop getting better.
Good Luck and hope to see more from you.