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I would be more than happy to provide a critique on a couple of specific images, it is much more effective than a critique of a body of work.

TF work is a great way to get experience, since the models are usually learning as well, you can help each other. Since you’re gonna buy Paul Buff stuff anyway, make sure you check out his essays on studio flashes.


Then research short vs broad lighting (95% of the time, you’ll want to use short) and the basic lighting patterns. Keep in mind that you can do almost anything you want to do in studio with just the big light source in the sky and a reflector.

The rings shot would be fine if it were lit a little better, but the cliche that I was referencing is the hands heart thing that has suddenly become so popular… it just seems tacky to me, like selective color, it was cool the first time I saw it, then it got boring, now it just hurts my soul (overstated for effect). I find intertwined fingers work a lot better to convey the emotion, the heart thing just feels forced.

Portfolios are tricky, but it is true that quality is better than quantity. Every shot should be good. 10 great shots are better than 10 great shots, 10 good, 4 mediocre, and 1 bad. For my web site, I still need to pull my best work and make up a gallery of wedding images, but I do link to a couple of entire wedding days. This includes shots taken by second shooters and shots I include for emotional resonance for the specific client even if I don’t feel they are good enough to print. I guide clients through the process of picking their images for enlargements and albums, so I avoid them printing the less than stellar shots even though I’ll put them on the web site. If there is any question in your mind that a shot might not need to be in the port, don’t put it in. Never keep shots in your portfolio more than two years, and always look through it from time to time and eliminate shots that don’t represent your skill level, replacing them with more recent shots. I keep a print portfolio and save all of my old prints all the way back to the 80’s. It’s fun from time to time to look at what I thought was portfolio worthy back then. Though it’s a little surreal to look at your own work and realize that you’d throw it away at a glance today when you’d put it in your portfolio a few years earlier.

I also keep more than one portfolio. I have them for fashion, general portraits, seniors, weddings, and general artwork, which are the five areas I do work in. Most have only 15-20 shots, that’s all it takes to get a booking if the portfolio is solid.