Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Be gentle, it's my first time…

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    Open Focus

    So it’s not exactly my very first time asking somebody to give me their thoughts on my photography, but it is certainly a first asking an entire community that is so willing to heavily criticize and critique. A majority of my responses are generally along the lines of:

    “You’re the best photographer ever!”

    “OMG your photos are amazing!!”

    Do keep in mind that these are either clients or friends and family who don’t have the heart to tell me if there’s something wrong with my photos. I am in no way a professional, but I do want to take things to the next level and start my own local business with it. I know I’m most likely not “Fauxtog” material, but I don’t want to be categorized as a hobbyist any more.

    I have a lot to learn and I am soon moving to a house where I can set up an actual studio so indoor equipment will have to wait until then. I am studying up on lighting techniques and getting to know more about the Nikon I’ve been toting around for a while.  I love shooting outdoors and a majority of my photos are outside. I love dark contrasts and bright colors — I think I may be going overboard with the heavy saturation in some of the children photos but I also try to adjust it to their personality.

    So I’ve ranted on long enough. I’m excited to hear feedback. I understand that my photos won’t please everybody but I do want to learn and I think the best way to do that is to ask and be honest. (Also pray that none of my photos end up on the main page.)

    Again with the ranting! Thanks for taking the time to read all of this, I greatly appreciate it.





    I like your portfolio, especially the BW shots of Michael.  I’m a little concerned with the PP, a little too contrasty, and the color seems odd (disclaimer:  I’m no pro, and I am away from home on an uncalibrated monitor at the moment)

    Have you finished/printed any of your work yet.  If not, that should be the next step.  Sometimes high contrast and certain processing looks fantastic on our monitors, but as an actual photograph (even when calibrated perfectly and the printing is spot on) it’s another story altogether.  I just know a lot of people who are learning skip printing as a part of the process, even though it’s actually one of the most important things to do when starting out.  So if you haven’t yet, finish your work.  Not only is it empowering, but you will learn so much, that it may even change the way you shoot and/or process your images.


    IHF – “I’m a little concerned with the PP, a little too contrasty, and the color seems odd”

    Agreed.  A little wanky with the contrast, and the colors are kind of all over the board, and some (see  http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7773004008/in/photostream ) are leaning on the green side . . . . . .

    IHF – excellent suggestion about printing.  I have a staircase in my entry, and it is lined with 30×45 prints, ordered at different times – only way I know of to make sure that everything is as it should be.   If your monitor is calibrated correctly, and the printer does his job, the images will appear nearly identical.

    BF – So, yes, go get some prints made, and see if they please you . . . . .  if they aren’t what you expected, time to calibrate the monitor, and re-work some images.


    I am glad someone else mentioned the printing. I am not a photographer but I do edit lots of photos. I have 3 printers set up that I sample print. Even though both of my monitors are calibrated I need to see how the photos will print, the print version is what matters to me.


    Some of your skin tones are off and it looks like you are over processing the eyes on almost every single image.  While the eyes should be the focus point on portraits they should not appear alien like.


    Your colors are all over the place. Same sheep, same time of day, completely different colors: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772953382/in/photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772953476/in/photostream

    Looks like you might’ve been processing one with more muted color, but I’m not sure if it was intentional… the second one (Adele_01) color is pulling the eye away from the sheep to the grass behind.


    This is almost a good picture, but has exposure and color issues, hacked off limbs, and a wonky crop. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772962710/in/photostream/ But not making it over the hill to good, it rolled back down to bad.


    More bizarre color treatments: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772958310/in/photostream


    This image is nice, but has exposure issues. You blew the red channel, and you can tell by the posterization on the back. It could’ve been a more relaxed pose if she wasn’t hugging herself. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772935094/in/photostream/ The one of her standing (Megan_01) would’ve stood alone without the extra hazy, aged processing. Also, I’m not sure if the horizon is straight on Megan_01; it feels off, but that might be an illusion.


    I actually liked your Michael series, despite the gimmicky processing and artistic license with exposures. It looks like exactly what you were trying to do, not some “throw darts at the keyboard” processing. It looks like a good senior portrait session. I liked the crops, a lot of the processing, and although I’ve seen way too many brick walls, the series just sort of worked well. It could’ve been so much badness, but you pulled it off.


    My advice:

    Stop going overboard on eye processing. It’s ruining some of your pictures. This includes oversaturation in general.

    Not everything needs to look like it came out of an Anthropologie catalog. Make at least a few traditional portraits during a portrait session, without any funky washed out, desaturated, aged look. You’re risking being a one-trick pony, and at some point, it’ll be passe.

    Get a gray card and use it.

    Calibrate your monitor. Some skin tones looked really bad.


    I had to look at your photostream a few times to confirm, but you are not a fauxtographer. You do need to take your foot off the pedal though, because you’re barely staying on the road.


    “This is almost a good picture, but has exposure and color issues, hacked off limbs, and a wonky crop.http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenfocus/7772962710/in/photostream/ But not making it over the hill to good, it rolled back down to bad.”


    I actually find the crop interesting but the exposure is horrific


    🙂 stef you should be a mod! i’m learning a lot from your critiques


    Took a quick look and your stuff is pretty awful. The most significant problem is the contrast and oversharpening. It looks like you’re applying some sort of weird effect on the threshold between contrast and large-radius sharpening, like the clarity adjustment in ACR maybe. Stop doing this. Just stop. With Flickr it’s often not a good idea to sharpen at all because they apply heavy sharpening to every photo you upload. If you have a shitty lens, maybe try some barely perceptible smart sharpening, but that’s it.

    Also clients are philistines whose opinions are meaningless. When you create better photos, you get clients with better taste and more money to spend.

    Open Focus

    Wow. I am almost embarrassed. This entire time I thought my computer monitor had been calibrated. I went into the settings and the gamma was way off kilter. Fixed it and looking at my photos and I can see exactly what everyone means by the skin tones.

    I don’t know why I didn’t mention it earlier, but quite a few of the photos I have posted on the flickr account are from between the years of 2010 – 2011, recent photographs, like the animals, the children — those were taken recently in 2012. I went back and did some re-editing to a lot of those photos because they were lacking in more than just, well — most things. I’m moreso using them to fill space on my “temporary portfolio” until the weather is decent enough so I may be able to do a shoot without hot and sweaty subjects.

    I have a huge problem with contrast and saturation. I definitely do not deny that. I love adding color to my photos because I think it helps reflect my personal style and the personality of the subject.

    Jetpix, when I calibrated my monitor I can now definitely see the green in the photo. Since then I have adjusted the image and I think there is a significant improvement (here: http://i.imgur.com/jBNzg.png)

    IHF – the only photos I’ve had printed were the ones titled “Shy & Katie.” When I got them they seemed to be drowning in saturated colors. The one photo of Shy (Shy_01) that everyone has thrown up red flags about was too dark to really enjoy looking at it when I was holding it in my hand. Truth is, it wasn’t even a real shoot. I had shown up to the location only to tell me that we had 15 minutes to take photos. This isn’t an excuse on my part but I think I was just trying to stretch as many photos out of the small bundle of shots I took so the client would be satisfied.

    stef, Another issue I know I have is forgetting steps I take to adjust a photo. I really admire the deep contrast (dare I say, vintage) style that Bruce Weber does in his photographs and I think I was trying to emulate this in post. The bad crop does make me cringe too now that it has been noted. I could see it being a much better shot if I had taken a few steps back or at least zoomed out my camera. As for the eyes — if you are meaning the alien look of Heather and her kids (http://i.imgur.com/NaffY.png) — her eyes are really BRIGHT blue. I did sharpen them with a low flow & opacity brush, but I get what you are saying with overdoing the eye enhance.

    The maternity shots, I hate to admit because I know I will not hear the end of it– were taken with a point and shoot. She was scheduled to be due in a week and at that point my camera had been in the shop for body repair. I won’t even show you the photos we had done inside–Even with the ISO at it’s optimal setting the grain just awful and the photos aren’t even usable. These are not photos I plan to put inside a portfolio, and when I do launch a site specifically for my photography, I will be keeping them far from it. I did however, want to include them to get some form of critique. The vintage haze to it was per the client’s request–I had suggested something else but it’s what she asked.

    Last thing I should mention (trying to address everyone who responded) I don’t often use Flickr. I did this time because I needed a place to present my photography in a short amount of time. I wouldn’t necessarily say my photography is “awful” but it’s certainly not my absolute best. I do need to back away from the sharpening and contrast–this has already been acknowledged.

    For the record: It’s hard for me to take criticism, even when I ask for it. Like I had said, this was my first time ever getting feedback on my work from anyone who is a legit photographer and though it was hard, I am not sorry I asked. I am so very grateful for the criticism and I’m already looking at my photography with a different light (and calibrated monitor.) With the weather cooling down where I’m from, I already have people who want to hire me for their fall/winter photographs and I want to give it my best.

    Grey Card has actually been purchased and I’m looking into making another purchase next week for light reflectors. This is a big hobby of mine but I take it very serious. Thank you all so much for the feedback. I have a LOT to learn and I’m glad to find a community who is honest enough to tell me something other than “Great job!”


    I never claimed to be legit.

    I’m a loose Canon.


    “I never claimed to be legit.”

    Good on ya mate!

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