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    Well, I fiinally mustered the courage to make this post after lurking around here reading the threads and browsing some of the fauxtog posts you folks have linked.


    In the last week since I have been reading this site I have gone through half a box of Rolaids as the the feeling I have been scamming people has threatened to give me a bleeding ulcer! I haven’t slept well in days because I fear I have not given people what they have been paying me for. I represent myself as a photorapher but I fear I may be a fauxtographer. The possibility of that reality is eating me up. I recognize there may be a problem and I want to fix it. I’m not making excuses. I’m being transparent and I don’t want glad handing or flowery words. I think it’s pretty obvious that you folks are straight and honest especially with the anonimity the internet affords. I’ve asked for honest critiques, I get little feedback from the few true pros I know or they just don’t have the time to look. I feel I have been in a vaccuum sealed off from truly constructive opinions that would improve my skillset and give me practical advice I can apply immediately. I am truly floored at the abhorrently mediocre photographers people will pay….myself included.

    So, with all that said. Here is a link to my facebook and my website. Just be honest and know that I am here to improve and become a real photographer whatever it takes. Thanks for your time.





    Here is a link to a Fickr critique set I put together.



    Well…  If you have been reading the threads, you already know what ebi thinks about a white vignette.  I see you have at least one in the wedding photos.

    Let’s look at a few wedding photos.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-Td5Twsp/A, has a very ‘B’ movie feel, in another moment the bats will arrive just as he turns into a vampire.  But then the twist.  Being so grey, she actually has no blood in her and when he tries to bite her, she bites him instead.  Sorry, very active imagination today.  Don’t know what the original looked like but I have seen skies like that before when Photoshop experiments have gone off the rails.  They both look over smoothed and skin colour is very bad.  Does he really have a pink shirt on?

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-ggjd2t5/A, is the second one in the chain, and the second one I would not put in a portfolio.  We don’t see the girl in the white dress.  We have the woman behind her, without a head.  Way in the back there is another woman who’s face is in deep shadow with a splash of light on her throat.  There is some guy standing in the background, hand on chest, perhaps, cut from left shoulder to right hip by the edge of the frame.  Are these folks in Witness Protection?  You have a frame in a wedding and you can’t tell who anyone is!

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-T52p5z8/A, is pretty hot!  White dress? Pink dress?  White I think.  Detail?  A little at the side.  That might be a pretty necklace.  It is so burned out it is hard to tell.  It also looks too smoothed.  Butterfly lighting but from what I have seen, I think that just happened on its own.  Since she only has one eye, and the photo seems tilted, I assume you were trying to emphasize the necklace?

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-n3Fznx7/X2, is another Witness Protection Program photo?  I don’t know what it is with wedding dresses, a bride that’s 5’6 and might weigh 100 lbs still looks like she has too much ass when shot square on from behind.  The view gets even less flattering for larger brides.  It looks like there are three people in the photo, but you only really see two.  There is a lot of reflection off the leaves in the background which deliver spectral highlights.  Why is this in your portfolio?

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-LvXQFKJ/X2, needs a different crop.  It also needs a lot less processing.  For instance, why does a flower girl need skin smoothing?  Then, why does it look like she is littering instead of spreading petals?  She is over exposed.  Why the colour extraction?  Why did you leave some green in?  Why didn’t you crop off the out of focus foliage down the left side?  Pretty little flower girl, presumably nicely groomed grounds.  A wide set of steps with limestone risers.  And this is what we get!  This is the fifth one in, and so far, I don’t see anything I would put into a portfolio.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-mWnVBnc/X2, at least is all B&W.  OK, it shows the bow on the back of the flower girl’s dress.  All that greenery sure is shiny!  I bet the grounds are gorgeous but so far I’m not seeing that in your photos even though you are showing us what might be called environmental portraits.  Not a portfolio shot but it would be nice filler in an album if it was in colour and the highlights were brought down.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-pPCfs9k/X2, where did you find the mannequin?  Seriously, look at the orange skin.  Where is the detail in the dress?  That girl has pretty nice nails.  In fact, her nails are what grab me most about the photo, after I get past her skin.  The other thing I don’t quite get is that diamonds are cut to sparkle like crazy when light strikes them and hers seems kind of flat!  Another one I would not put into a portfolio.

    Then we have the first couple again, in B&W, but they still look odd.

    And moving along… http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-NVgD66N/X2, looks like bad HDR.  I’m reasonably sure it’s not real HDR because moving people don’t lend themselves to that process, they blur.  The little girl’s face is three large white areas which would otherwise be a single white area but for the dark ‘Y’ in the middle.  Not flattering.  Not portfolio material.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-NWB7f2B/X2, the bride is dancing with a little girl, while a couple in the background are disengaged.  The bride’s dress is missing most of the detail.   It’s tilted enough to look like you meant it but a square portrait orientation might have got the whole of the bride and girl while cutting out the other couple.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-p2sCXG5/XL, white icing or yellow icing?  If I pull a copy and use it as a white reference, it turns white.  I would have tried to find a different wall for a background, or shot down to get a cleaner background.  Lighting makes it look pretty flat.

    http://www.edgefocal.com/Weddings/Wedding-Gallery/i-zcLzMs7/XL, there’s that white vignette.  Others may have it, but it is so obvious in this one that it distracts.  Zoom in, to see her face.  Besides being way too bright, focus is on the hair at her right side.  Her eyes should be in focus.  There is a hint of butterfly shadow under her nose but there is a much stronger shadow from her hand suggesting two lights, and the fill light was way too strong!  You can barely make out the bridge of her nose.

    I’ll stop here.  I’d like to see the original files.  Ideally original raw files.  I think some of them could be a lot better through post processing, although the ideal is that post takes a good picture and makes it great rather than using it to save so-so shots.





    Worst Case Scenario

    Well done for asking for help, I say you have a decent eye for photography but you DO need some help.

    Your Facebook page : I’ll admit I didn’t read any posts, I just dived into the pictures.My first impression was that it was messy and looked more like some ones personal snaps than a business page. You must be in a very different market to me, if people pay you to take birthday parties and fireworks.  Your colour balance needs a lot more work and when you put pictures next to each other ( like in a FB album) you can really see the differences from one pic to another. Over all I’d say it does look more faux than pro.

    Your website loaded up with a dark and grundgy look (which I love) but then your hyper colourful pics filled the screen. Your pics are anything but dark or grundgy so the layout really doesn’t suit.

    The critique set . Glad to see you had made this as wadding through all the shots on FB was taking ages.

    no. 1  is definatley your stand out best.

    no .2 is okay but it looks massively red next to no.1

    no.3 again okay but I’m not a fan of the processing.

    no.4,5,6 are all from the same set a show nicely how wild your colours can be.

    no.7,8,9 are basically the same shot so shouldn’t be seen together

    no.10 looks like you ran out of pics so chucked it in to make up numbers.

    Can you see that the kid with the spanner looks so much better than the others?

    anyone know the correct spelling of grundgy?

    I see CC has posted while I was typing so sorry if this has now been said.


    I popped into your FB page and there are all these “Photo Tips”!  I found this in one of them:

    “Are You Still Making These 10 Photography Clichés?

     Unnecessary Black & White
    There are plenty of reasons to shoot in black and white, like wanting to emphasise form or contrast, but there’s even more reasons to not shoot in black and white. Colour is a wonderful thing in photography, as different colours evoke different feelings or thoughts, and when you desaturate them to black and white, you lose all of this.”


    “Selective Colour

    Worse then mindless black and white is selective colouring; it’s taking a usually uninteresting photo, turning it black and white, and then bringing back the colour onto only a certain part of the photo.”

    This was copied verbatim from stuff you posted!


    There is no denying you guys are right. It’s hard to hear but it’s good for me. Hurts, but hurts good. What makes it all worse is that all this is stuff I already know but have been in denial about. I KNOW the selective coloring is cliche and BLAH and just plain BAD! I knew my white vignettes would get slaughtered… as they should. My colors are way saturated and just plain odd.

    One very small thing I would say in my defense. The wedding gallery is my oldest gallery and the one I dug the deepest to fill and as you have pointed out it is painfully obvious. People have actually looked at that crap and hired me. You see what I mean. Something has to change, What are the things I’m doing well that I can build off of? I need a ground up rebuild.


    To be perfectly honest with you, the shots are not great. The base photos are probably not bad but I’m afraid the editing is mostly pretty dire. There is a vast amount of over smoothing, over contrasting, over saturating and so on. My advice would be to look at all these photos again assuming they are shot raw and you have a clean copy or is using lightroom. Revert all the changes you made to them and add some mild clarity boost, maybe a little saturation or adjust the exposure. If you find that you are bumping any sliders in lightroom to more than 10 be it contrast, clarity, saturation or noise reduction then put them back to 0. If you are having to do that much in post you were probably off the mark by some distance when you took the shot and you have to ask yourself if you really need to do so much life support on your images.

    Your edits are not consistent, just look at the difference between the picture of the kid with mum and dad. In one the contrast is so big that the woman’s hair has turned in to black plastic whereas in the other you can tell she is actually a brunette.

    As a tip in general, lots of people who want wedding and family photos taken like the brighter “happier” look you’ve got going with the family sitting down. The problem with that shot is that it is blatantly apparent you have been adjusting the exposure a lot. You have large blue haloes around the trees which you get when you dial down exposure. It is not hard to fix in photoshop but it isn’t fun to clone stamp out all that. Second problem is that while mum is sharp, dad isn’t. I would probably have preferred a less hard shadow from baby’s head onto dad. I would also have included more of their bodies, so not cutting off his feet for example.

    In summary, keep shooting but stop with the editing as it is ruining your quality. A lot of the shots are nice and would look much better if you don’t try so hard.


    I shoot everything in RAW so I do have all the originals. I’m currently using LR3.

    Take a look at this gallery.  Its a client I did last Sunday. I would like some feedback on these some more recent shots.

    http://crash1976.smugmug.com/Clients/Russell password: riley

    Is this moving in the right direction? There is still one or two in there with that odd coloring that is inconsistent with the rest I know.

    That wedding gallery of mine is just plain awful. The other stuff you guys have pointed out are all fair criticizims.


    This weekend, I’m going to take a long hard look at all this stuff I’ve put out there, most of it just needs to go I suppose.


    A quick note about this one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/59904248@N07/9308634312/in/set-72157634675000849/) from your critique group on Flickr.  It has several problems but the one I wanted to comment on was her left sleeve.  It looks like it is just hanging there and except that I see a hand in her lap, I would think that arm was absent.  The way some fabrics hang or are coloured can affect the way they look in a photo.  Doing something different with her arms, hands on hips perhaps, might give a better result with that top.

    Looking at your latest shoot, for me, the brightest part of the first photo, http://www.flickr.com/photos/59904248@N07/9308634312/in/set-72157634675000849/, is the left side of the log and her right foot/leg.   That drags my eye down there instead of being on her face.

    Generally your white balance is not consistent, still.  I am trying to decide if her top is black as it appears in some shots or navy blue as it seems in others.  Either way, she would be a good candidate for mom to run a lint roller over her top before shooting.  There seems to be lots of debris on her top.  There also appears to be a lot of colour noise, which is a bit of a surprise since you are using lighting.

    Looking at (http://crash1976.smugmug.com/Clients/Russell/i-fs9CN2x/O) in original size, which fills my smaller monitor with just her face, her eyelashes look good but there is no texture on her cheek or chin.  Did you smooth her skin?   I would remove pimples and eye bags but for someone her age, unless she had some obvious temporary feature, like a scratch, I would not be inclined to do any work on her skin.  It’s not necessary and seeing pores avoids the plastic look.  Looking at another, I see she naturally has really smooth skin!

    In http://crash1976.smugmug.com/Clients/Russell/i-rqbr475/A, her left cheek is way too hot.  Full size, her eye fills my small monitor!  I can see the little hairs on her skin.  Backed off, her skin looks smoothed.

    You still have a couple of B&W in there, white balance needs work, lighting needs work.  Little kids can really be a handful.  I like that gallery much better than the wedding gallery.


    You still have a couple of B&W in there, white balance needs work, lighting needs work.  Little kids can really be a handful.  I like that gallery much better than the wedding gallery.

    Can I ask you a question CC, does the WB make a difference in B&W? Sorry, hope that doesn’t sound stupid but I didn’t know that it did.


    does the WB make a difference in B&W?

    Yes, it does.  Below is a sample.  Both are from the same raw file.  I took a bunch of photos a week ago when fooling around with my studio.  I put up a lot of black plastic to eat the light from the strobes so I could do some low key shots.  This is a random shot selected from those.  The one on the left had white balance set to flash which should be correct.  The one on the right is the same raw file, with the white balance sliders moved to 3300 and +48.  Correct is 5500 and 0.  In ACR, I selected the default conversion to B&W for each setting.  As you can see, the result is not the same.  It should be possible to move the conversion sliders to bring them both to the same point.


    The one with the wrong white balance is generally much brighter.  The T shirt is tan, the backdrop is a white drop cloth and the rectangle is white foam core that is blocking a strobe from hitting the backdrop.

    What I was saying, however, was that white balance and lighting still need additional understanding/care/control, and also there are a couple of B&W photos in that gallery.


    The child from that gallery was extremely uncooperative so I did my best to play with her and keep her happy and shoot what I could get. She was soooo active (rolling on the ground, playing in the dirt and running around) I could not set up any strobes to try different lighting with my strobes. So I had to improvise with a single strobe on a paint pole. It was the most challenging subject I’ve had yet. There is a lot of smoothing on her face to get rid of the dirt and drool And boogers! But yes, I totally see what you mean.


    You are not a fauxtog, but you are making some fauxtog mistakes. Your strong points are that you take mostly all very sharp photos, you have a creative eye, and from the critique gallery I like the poses and connections with the subjects. The wedding gallery however I think is all across the board. Several shots have crazy contrast and clarity increases making them look like the “plastic wrap” filter in Photoshop. I think starting over on editing them would do you best. Some it looks like were shot in direct sun and you attempted to save them with the edits. You have a few images within one shoot that are edited very differently from one another. Riley’s shoot- her outfit is really distracting. That was up to the parents, but if you don’t already, try to counsel them on outfit ideas before the shoot and tell them what patterns and styles to avoid. Some the flash looks too intense. I like the naturally-lit ones much more. You have a couple of really harsh dark vignettes and some white vignettes- both are bad. Subtle vignettes usually help bring attention to the subject, but you don’t usually want it to look like you added a vignette, unless it’s for a dramatic or specialized edit.

    Your SmugMug site is alright, but I honestly hate the background. It really clashes with your image galleries. Maybe pick a plain background.


    browneyedgirl is absolutely right. I cannot look at your website b/c the background is so distracting. Websites for photography should never outshine, in any way, the work. Neutral shades of grey. Reserve color for the logo only, as long as the logo is not distracting. I find that the more distracting the logo, the bigger fauxtog.

    So I think pretty much everything has been covered above. I think you are quite aware of a lot of stuff too. I feel like your last post about the kid was just a bunch of excuses as to why you didn’t do a good job. If I was that parent and I was paying you for those pictures, I don’t think the excuses would mean much to me. Although I’d probably be very understanding, knowing that my kid was difficult and special needs and all that. I think those pictures are ok. Most of what I see is just ok. Not overwhelming, a little underwhelming at times. I actually have lots of just ok shoots that clients are still really happy with. Those are jobs where I make some money but those images don’t get published with my name anywhere near that.

    Selective color is a typical fauxtog mistake. There are instances where it’s done well and with purpose (The gatorade ads come to mind), but it’s rare.

    Vignettes…Here’s how I do vignettes in photoshop. I share it with everyone as long as the inverse is never done. I hate white vignettes.

    1.) open image in photoshop
    2.) create new layer by going to Layer > New > Layer (shift+cmd+n)
    3.) make sure it is above background layer and name it vignette or something meaningful
    4.) click on the rectangular marquee tool. choose a feather depth of 250-500 px (you will have to work on the right amount of this by playing around with the numbers). Draw the marquee from edge to edge all the way around the image.
    5.) go to Select > Inverse (shift+cmd+i)
    6.) Choose paint bucket too (g) and choose black as your foreground color. Click inside of the marquee (marching ants)
    7.) Deselect the image by going to Select > Deselect (cmd+d). You’ll notice a very fake and flat looking vignette around the image. This is what most peoples vignettes look like, except they tend to go even more overboard (more of a feather, stronger black).
    8.) In layers, make sure you are clicked on your vignette layer.
    9.) Under Blending modes, choose soft light. Subtle vignette.

    Now you need to brighten the middle of the frame to make it feel a little more natural.

    10.) reselect your vignette by going to Select > reselect. If this doesn’t work, you can also cmd+click on your vignette layers little checked icon in the layers panel.
    11.) Create new layer by going to Layer > New > Layer (shift+layer+n). Name it something meaningful like “inside vignette”
    12.) Select inverse by going to Select > Inverse (shift+cmd+i)
    13.) Choose Paint Bucket again (g) and then choose white as foreground color
    14.) Drop white in the center. You’ll notice the center goes opaque white. You’ll fix this in the next step.
    15.) In the layers panel, make sure you have the “inside” layer selected.
    16.) Under Blending modes choose Overlay. Now you’ll notice that the image is way bright. Change the opacity to the right of the Blending modes drop down box and bring it down so that it’s not overly bright but matches well for the rest of the image.

    If you want it stronger, you can duplicate the vignette layer and then reduce opacity on that layer. You can also make the edges a bit darker, initially by drawing your bounding box within the image slightly inside of the frame instead of edge to edge (step 4).

    Worst Case Scenario

    does the WB make a difference in B&W?

    emf – If you use Lightroom try desaturating the image and then play with the WB sliders. I routinely, massively over saturate images and throw out the white balance until I get a horrible look – green skin and yellow skies, before I convert to BW. You’ll get a whole new set of tones to play with.

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