Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Vary New to Photography…But I welcome constructive criticism Reply To: Vary New to Photography…But I welcome constructive criticism


First off, seeking constructive criticism is always good, but around here, you will get a healthy dose of people who will just plain criticize.

Now, since advice is only relevant when you know where it’s coming from, a little about my credentials. I’ve been shooting for 25 years, 20 of which as a working professional. I’ve worked both here and abroad, been published countless times including a healthy number of magazine covers. My specialties are portrait, fashion, and editorial photography. I’m now semi-retired and running a small independent studio in North Carolina.

First of all, never listen to the complements of friends and family. They will love your work because they love you, and are not reliable for honest advice.

My first impression of your work is that it is very lack luster. There are pictures there, they show people… but that’s about it. You talk in your bio about the passion you hold for photography, but even there, it seems like it is an after-thought in your life. Passion is an all consuming force. If a person wants to make photography their life’s work, they must live and breath it. It is like your love for another person, waking up in the morning and giving all the love you have to them is not passion. Passion is being so full of love for that person that the OVERFLOW of that passion washes over them endlessly and without effort.

So it is with photography, if you pour everything you have into your work, it isn’t passion. Passion is allowing your desire and love for the visual poetry fill you to the point that you overflow, and when you pick up your camera your work is drenched in that endless stream of love, of art, of simple and pure joy.

If you are overflowing with that joy, it isn’t translating into your images… they are just images.

Secondly, I see a distinct lack of technical expertise. Take this little test, here are a list of twenty fairly basic photography techniques. Take a moment and ask yourself how many could you explain without googling or picking up a book?

short lighting
depth of field
dutch angle
Rembrandt pattern
color temperature
high key
ambient balance
track focusing
angle of view
lens compression
golden hour
focal length
law of inverse squares
exposure value

How many did you get? This may sound harsh, but if your answer was not “all of them” you should not be marketing your services as a photographer. This is all Photography 101 stuff.

But there is good news, all of this is learnable, and if you do indeed have a passion for photography, I encourage you to stop asking people to pay you for sub-standard work and get out there and learn now to produce superior work. It will be hard, it will be grueling, it will test your passion, but you WILL come out the other side a much better photographer than you are now.

The value of photography is not in equipment, editing software, or how much passion you have (though passion is essential to doing the massive amount of work it takes to become proficient) it is in knowledge and skill. That is the main difference between a photographer who shouldn’t be charging $50 for a shoot and another who wouldn’t even consider a shoot that pays less than $50,000.

Now, should to choose to ignore this and continue on, here are a couple of practical pointers:

For the sake of all that is holy and good in this world, stop selective coloring your photos, I do not care what my three year old’s shirt looks like, or about my wife’s bouquet, so PLEASE stop making the photos about things I don’t care about. It’s tacky, it’s overdone, it looks like crap.

Stop trying to save bad photos with Photoshop, just throw them away and use the good ones.

And stop loading your pictures onto a CD and giving them to the client. It is your work, and you should take enough pride in it to make sure that it is printed correctly, there is a distinct difference between how photos look on the screen and how they look when printed, and you should make sure that your clients get good prints, it  is a matter of professionalism. Do you really want to trust your reputation to the Walmart photo center and the “auto enhance” option?

If photography is your true passion, whatever you do don’t stop, take this to heart and use it to make yourself better.