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    My Heart

    Am I a fauxtog?  I defended this site – not the outright abuse certain people are choosing to randomly lash out at unknowing photogs.  But I do think this forum could be useful, even a learning tool.  So, b/c I said that in my little “group” – I believed in the right to have your work critiqued, I’m joining this forum and throwing myself onto your mercy.  🙂  Here we go……



    Oh lordy…your website is the pinnacle of awfulness. I couldn’t even look at pictures because once I clicked on one to enlarge it, I couldn’t figure out how to close it. Esc didn’t even work. Everything is way too big, the pictures at the top are all cut off, there’s autostart music…I’m sorry, but ooh, it’s bad.

    I saw a few throwaway shots on your wedding pages–goofy faces in casual shots with harsh and obvious flash. Those need to go. Other than that…hard to say without being able to pull up images.

    My Heart

    Thank you, OctoberMoon – for at least attempting to look at the site.  If you don’t mind – please read the instructions on how to view my site on my “Services” section, which provides a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to view the collage style galleries.  That is there for those who don’t understand how to instinctively work the little “x” on the top right-hand corner of each image, so you can close that picture and return to the gallery.  Then, again – you can click on another image, view it as it enlarges, then – again, close it by clicking on the “x” on the top right-hand corner of the image – once again returning you to the gallery.  I’m definitely not patronizing you; I understand the “style” of how to make the gallery “work” is a little different than others.  I appreciate the feedback, and would appreciate more.  In a nutshell, the site is a reflection of me and my style, which I think everything you do should be a truthful and accurate representation of oneself. I’m not the OCD type – I love how the galleries are thrown together, and every time you click on a new gallery, they are never the same.  Sort of like a labyrinth, or more accurately: The Labyrinth.  If you don’t know what movie I’m referencing, you would do a disservice to yourself if you don’t watch it – David Bowie is amazing in it.  Back to the subject:  The pictures aren’t cut off.  They are simply a huge collage gallery, and again – the pictures keep changing where they are / what size they are.  And you become a part of the ever-changing galleries, by clicking on an image to enlarge it, by closing it with the right hand corner visible “x”, by viewing another image, by viewing another gallery, etc.  It is quite eclectic; may come off as sloppy or half-assed to others, which is ok.  I want to know the harshest truth possible; otherwise – how can I correct and grow / learn and move forward?  So, OctoberMoon, and others – please, PLEASE take a look at my site (or another look, if you were confused at first how to “work” it).  I beg of you – I want advice.  Do you see anything that stands out?  Do you see any progression?  For ex: do you look at one and see a very novice shooter, then look at another image and think a much more advanced shooter took it – like, 2 different photogs on one site??  I want to know every single piece of advice possible.  You’re all very quick to judge and point out mistakes in others – and some hate that.  But I don’t – I want you all to come at me with full force, please.  PLEASE.  Thank you.  Seriously, THANK YOU!! 🙂

    My Heart

    And, please tell me – what’s wrong with the auto-start music?  Please, I’m seriously trying to understand that one.  A great musician, my old friend, wrote that song, and it seriously spoke to me.   Please explain why that is bad on a website?  I’m not jumping in his defense – it doesn’t matter to me what anyone thinks of his music.  I like his music, so that’s not a point of contention with me. Please elaborate on why it’s bad for my site.  Thank you again! 🙂


    Lol, apparently, according to some of the troll jerks on another thread I’m not allowed to offer constructive criticism to you.

    I will anyways.

    First thing I noticed was the awkwardness/difficulty viewing the Wix website. I had a Wix site for awhile, and got rid of it. It was just slow and with the Flash stuff, made it “clunky” to use (and this is on a computer, not even a phone, I don’t know if it views better or worse on a mobile site). That’s just my initial impression. Not viewer-friendly. No one wants to have to read instructions on how to view it properly; it should just be clean and simple to view. the different tabs are nice though. The about me section is great, but I think you should take out the last paragraph! Don’t let people second-guess you, even if you sometimes second-guess yourself. Exude confidence. Maybe get an updated photo of yourself with your camera since it’s not in sharp focus (even though someone else probably took the photo).

    As for the work, you have quite  a variety of poses. Most show great emotion, which is very nice. Some images are a lot stronger than others. The white balance is a little off on some, making them a little to orange. Some have harsh shadows from shooting in bright sun; try finding a shaded spot. It kind of looks like you are trying to find your style because things are a bit across the board. Personally, I like portraits with a shallow depth of field. I think some of the portraits could have looked more pleasing with a shallow DOF.

    With the wedding photos, I thought they were less-strong than the engagement/couple photos in the other collage. Are you using on-camera flash or a mounted flash? Some look a little blown-out and with shadows. But still they, for the most part, have artistic value in the poses.

    It kind of looks like you don’t have equipment strong enough for wedding photography. A camera that can handle very high ISO and mounted flash would be good equipment upgrades if you do not already have them. What kind of camera and lens are you using?

    Your work is not bad. I think it just needs to be taken to the next level with some better technical upgrades and maybe some better editing.

    PS I like the song. I think it works for your target market.

    My Heart

    Thank you, BrownEyed!! I truly appreciate you taking the time to offer your take on my site.  I’m sincerely sorry if I offended you in another post, but I did feel that once the forum was actually noticing me – it seemed to me – which is totally arbitrary – that you were intent on making your point, thus derailing the convo, thus frustrating me.  I didn’t mean for it to sound mean.  Just very frustrated on my end, and felt that if you were offended / angry – that you shouldn’t sit through others being rude – there’s way too many other nice things.  So, I definitely apologize and appreciate you taking the time to look at my site.  I agree w/ all; it just doesn’t work.  It’s flash – but I’ve had flash before and never had a problem.  Still, I agree that if I have to keep explaining how to use it, it’s not worth it.  Trash and start over.  Thanks about the song, btw.  I love the song, and the friend who wrote / sings it.  My lighting is always off.  My “material” is mainly a Nikon D90, with a Nikon D40 for backup.  I hardly ever use the D40 – although my hubby will second shoot for me if I need it, and he uses that – for like, balcony shots, etc.  For the most part, I use the kit lens (18-105mm).  I do have a Nikon 70-300mm.  And of course, I have some other little things – like a wide angle, fish eye, colored filters, etc… for the base D40 lens.  As for flash, I did use a Nikon SB 900, but I actually sold it before we moved to Chicago.  I tried to get rid of a lot of my equipment, thinking I was done with it.  The flash was the only thing I ended up selling, though.  I also have a “kit” of studio lights.  They’re the kind you get at a Wolf Camera or something, with 3 lights and stands, 2 umbrellas, for about $200.  The only good thing I’ve learned about them is to keep a big fan handy b/c they get hot, and you can just tell your clients that you’re using the fan as a prop – to blow their hair, kind of thing.  A lot of my equipment (or lack thereof) has to do with finances.  I was working full time as a Marketing Director, making about $55k – with hubby being the sole provider, so my income was just for me to play with.  I spent it all on the start up of my photography.  Then, the job turned out to be a bad thing  – so I quit, then tried to rely on photography for the “fun” money.  Now, we’ve moved – and even though hubby is the sole provider, I want my own money.  And, to be blunt – I want a baby.  I can’t have children, so I’m getting a job making enough to do IVF in about 3 months (insurance doesn’t cover it).  So, I’ll be working full time starting next week and with photography as my love.  Hence, the My <3.

    Yes, you’re right.  I think I’m just not ready for Prime Time, lol.  I’ve tried sooo dead-gum hard.  But I need to slow my pace, all things come in time.  What am I doing???  That’s the real question, and thanks for pointing it out.  I like my style, and it does change w/ the people I work with.  At this point, I think it’s fair to say that I need to learn some more about lighting and technique.  I’ve tried so hard to correct it with editing, but again – I should be able to take a pic well before I say I’m a photog and start editing. I think it’s also fair to say I could be really good at this, with some more work and experience.  That being said…..

    Questions for all:

    – What can I do about learning lighting?

    – Do I really have something, or are you guys being nice?  Is it really worth someone’s time (not mine, but a client) for me to focus on it – for their sake??

    – Money – spend on more equipment?  I’d like to start with a small studio.  I really think I have what it takes to do sessions and personal, one on one shoots.  Huge weddings, not so much.  I’d like to focus on engagement, bridal, maternity, families. And, of course, my newborn – when she gets here. 🙂

    – Anyone have any other advice, or am I just a novice that will never “get” it?


    Thanks to all – and thank you, BrownEyed, for taking the time and effort -especially after I was frustrated and took my rude attitude out on you.  That really does show your true character; thanks.  🙂


    Any more advice????  I can always use more, as well as info about learning how to fix my technique, lighting and all my issues?!  🙂


    I thought the galleries looked cluttered, and not at all inviting. If I wasn’t looking at the site specifically to view your work for this forum, I would’ve left because it doesn’t have the clean, organized look I’d expect from a professional service.

    I thought some of your composition was good, but couldn’t help notice many of the shots seemed to suffer from exposure problems. I don’t mind highlights being blown on occasion – I think we can all appreciate that – but it shouldn’t be the norm. Let me see some technically sound work before you throw so many shots at me where the rules are broken.  Too many times I saw dark colors being clipped, and highlights being blown. I think you’d benefit from taking more time to meter.

    I like the creativity in your composition, but it still needs to be stronger (keep working, you’ll get it). It doesn’t look like you have a good grasp on metering yet. I think its important to have this down pat before you get too artsy with exposure. My critique would be spend more time getting it right in-camera and less time editing.


    I agree – I love the photo of the blonde lying on the floor – but again, poor lighting, it’s too yellow. I know.  I just don’t know how to fix it.

    If you have Photoshop Elements, fixing white balance is easy.  You can do the same thing with Adobe Camera Raw versions that come with Photoshop and Lightroom.  All three have an eyedropper for fixing white balance.  You click the end of the dropper on an area that is supposed to be white, grey or black.  The software makes the adjustment to the whole photo.  If you click on a place that is not actually supposed to be neutral, then the colour of everything will change to something awful, just pick a different place and click again.  JPEG files contain very little data and are unforgiving, raw files contain the sensor data and are much more forgiving.  If your colour setting is very far off when you take a JPEG, you will not be able to get the whole photo to look right by adjusting colour cast.  Another benefit to shooting to raw files is that you can reduce highlights and boost shadows since the file contains enough data to do that successfully, most of the time.  If you have the full Photoshop, you should do most of your editing in 16 bit mode, it is one of the benefits of the full package.

    Getting the image as right as possible in the camera is excellent advice.  It will save you time when editing and there are some things like focus that you really cannot fix later with an editor.


    And, please tell me – what’s wrong with the auto-start music?  Please, I’m seriously trying to understand that one.

    I already answered this question in the other thread, and have not compared time stamps, so I will take a minute to put a response here too.  If I am all by myself at home, opening the page and getting music mostly disturbs my cat.  If I am at an office with an open plan, and my speakers are turned up, a page with music will blare and disturb many people.  Because of this, in the web design community, auto start music is considered bad design.  If you want to provide music, good design is to provide easy to find, easy to use, controls to start and adjust music.


    – What can I do about learning lighting?

    Since you are using Nikon, you might like to get a book or two by Joe McNally.  He shoots for National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and others.  He shoots Nikon and has a couple of books that deal with small flash.  They are worth reading for many reasons beyond flash as well.  You can also catch some of his stuff on YouTube and The Grid — Scott Kelby’s weekly on-line show.  If you want to know more about Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom, I recommend Scott Kelby’s books.  Scott also has a set of 4 very good cookbooks for shooting and lighting as well.

    – Do I really have something, or are you guys being nice?  Is it really worth someone’s time (not mine, but a client) for me to focus on it – for their sake??

    Are we being nice?  Yes.  We are taking the time to look at your work and respond.  The real question is:  Are we being honest?  Again, I think the answer is yes.  Is it worth someone’s time for you to focus on improving?  Yes.  Even if you just want to record family history, it is worth taking the time and putting in the effort, if you enjoy photography.  If you want to charge for your work, why would you offer anything except the best product you possibly can?

    Breakfast was just announced and it is some distance from here, through a snowstorm, so I have to stop this and get organized….



    I’d rather be blunt and straight to the point than pour on the sugary sweetness, so here it goes:

    1. Get rid of the music.  I couldn’t even find the option to turn it off.  Research shows more visitors bounce faster when a site has music than not. While you may have an emotional attachment to the song, it’s slow and annoying.  If I were at work or not giving a critique I would’ve bounced the second I couldn’t find the option to turn it off.

    2. Rewrite your “about me” section.  Do that now!  Your second paragraph in which you are validating that you’re not the greatest photographer is not needed.  You’re selling yourself not trying to explain your faults.  And if you feel you need to explain your faults then that’s a great sign that you’re not ready to charge.  Keep it concise.  Make a connection.  Avoid common Mom With A Camera cliche words like “passionate” and “whimsical”.  Tell the reader who are you and why you are a photographer and what you can do for them that others can’t.

    3. Find your style.  Your processing leaves much to be desired.  It’s evident you’re new to photography.  How do I know?  Your style is exactly the same as every other new photographer:  heavy vignetting,  too many Dutch tilts, actions/ presets, fake blur, heavy contrast, poor white balance, etc.  You will find that a properly exposed photograph with the correct depth of field and composition will be far superior than trying to “fix” it with cheesy actions in Lightroom or Photoshop.  As you learn about light and composition you will find you need the crutch of editing less and less.

    4.  Get a new profile picture of you.  It looks like it was taken with a point and shoot.  Lose the camera or at the minimum don’t make it such a major distraction.

    5. Calibrate your monitor.  If you’re editing on a laptop, invest in a desktop PC.  Laptops are very hard to keep calibrated.  Use a white balance card or exposure disc on location.  Your white balance is way off and when you apply an action it makes it even worse.

    6. Learn how to sharpen your images for output and what size to output for the web.  You should be sharpening two times for output but singularly for each time (meaning: if you sharpen for web first, you need to undo that before you sharpen for web).  Once for your hi-res images and once for images to be displayed on the web.  Your images for web display should not exceed 1000 pixels on the long side.  Most sites will compress the image that are longer than 1000 pixels and you will not display your best work.  Final sharpening is the number one thing amateur photographers fail to do.

    7. You’re shooting really tight or cropping really tight on images that would benefit from space and vice versa.  Google “the rules of good portraiture” for help on posing and composition.

    Lastly, a photographer advertising services should be competent enough to produce consistent images day in and day out regardless of weather, lighting, clients, and any obstacles.  Based on your bio, you yourself concede you are nowhere near that.  For some reason photography is one of those fields that people thing they can charge as they learn.  How you do things is your own choice and I’m certainly not going to lose sleep over what you do.  Just being honest.   Good luck.


    You have a an excellent attitude in that you seem to have a willingness to learn. In fact the first question you asked “What can I do to learn lighting?” was a good one. THE most important one, photographically speaking. And it all starts with getting proper exposure. Looking at your pictures, exposure is all over the place. There’s no consistency.  So my advice is to start there – learning how to get proper exposures, and understanding how the camera’s built in reflective meter works. I found this site which gives a good explanation. http://www.sekonic.com/Whatisyourspecialty/Photographer/Articles/Incident-and-Reflected-Light.aspx. If your serious about doing studio type shots, you will need a incident meter – no if’s ands or buts. You could get by with a gray card and the cameras meter, but if you start doing multiple light setups with different ratios, an incident meter is the only sure fire way to do that. Professionals in a studio don’t take a bunch of shots and chimp their way till “it looks about right”

    One of the best resources I’ve ever come across is this website:  http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/   This specific link is how to use your flash in the most effective way, but it’s the concepts of lighting that are the real gold. There’s a small section on exposure as well, and he has three books (some which are downloadable) , which I cannot recommend highly enough. I know you said you sold your SB900(omigod nooooooo!), but there is a lot of info that is worth learning regardless.

    So my advice to you FWIW:

    Base your style on how you light, not a photoshop action. Think of photoshop/lightroom as a tool to enhance what you have taken, not change or fix what you have done. Get it right in camera.  Learn what the lighting patterns are, understand ratios, direction of light, color, size in relation to you subject etc. Once you have some of these concepts down, then practice, but practice with purpose. Don’t just start plunking lights down and firing away – have a purpose. Example – You’ve learned the concept of short lighting, which is the main light illuminating the side of the face furthest away from the camera IOW, the “short side” of the face. Now with this knowledge in hand, you are putting the light and/or posing your subject in a certain way – there’s purpose to it. Now you can start to experiment – move the light farther/closer away, have your subject turn more or less to the light(whether your outside or in a studio), use a reflector/diffusion panel to soften the shadows etc. Your trying different things but you have a concept and  understanding – that’s what practice is.

    Learn flash. IMHO, the best way to differentiate yourself from the millions of photogs in this world is to use flash effectively and creatively. I know I know, you said you sold your flash (DOH!), but sooner or later you might want to pick one up. Think about it. You have a small, portable box of light that you can control it’s output, direction, size(make the light bigger with and umbrella or bouncing, smaller with a snoot as an example), color using gels – the list goes on and on. You’d be amazed what one flash combined with know how can accomplish.

    Your website needs a major overhaul. Don’t get personal about the website, it’s strictly there as a way to showcase your photography. You say it’s a reflection of your style, but in reality it’s messy, hard to navigate and screams amateur. It should be clean and easy to navigate. Remember, we’re there to see your pictures, not the website,  so let them speak for you as to your style.

    There’s probably a bunch of other things I could suggest, but I can’t remember them right now (ha ha). Good luck to you.




    I also agree that the music should have an option to turn it off. It can be disturbing in some situations.

    Try a wordpress site. You can customize it (it’s really a blog site) to look/feel like a website, with menu buttons at the top and you can set links to go to different pages. I feel like it’s pretty easy to navigate over a wix site. I have to re-vamp mine a little because some of the gallery views are not consistent with others. But here’s mine if you want an example. http://roxanneelisephotography.wordpress.com/ And, if you pay extra, you get more image storage and/or you can remove the “.wordpress.com” part. A few other photogs I know have wordpress-based sites… actually, I think THIS site is also.


    Hi My Heart…I am in the same boat as you, trying to learn and get better at photography, and with that said, I feel I don’t have the experience to fully critique your work.

    However, I do want to critique your website, since I have the experience in that area =) I’ve been proficient with HTML since 1997 when I self-taught myself HTML in high school. Professionally, I’ve been a web designer for 7 years and internet marketer for 6 years, including 2 1/2 years as an E-Commerce Manager.

    Obviously, you are trying to sell your services through your website. When creating a website, the number one rule is to make it user-friendly enough so that people will stay on your website longer enough to see your “product” (your photography). Keep it simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate.

    As for the auto-start music, I understand it has sentimental meaning, but it’s a big no-no from a marketing standpoint. It is forcing people to turn down their sound, especially if they are viewing your website from their office. It will interfere with people who are already listening to music, especially with Pandora or Spotify running in the background. If you really want to share the music and it’s meaning, maybe you should put it on your “About” section. Or you can highlight it somewhere on the front page and give the user the option to turn it on.

    I agree with BrownEyedGirl that maybe you should look into WordPress. My photography portfolio website, http://www.photosbyanjanette.com, is made with WordPress. The bad thing about Wix is that it’s all Flash-based, which is a dying trend especially with smartphones. iPhones are not capable of viewing Flash sites, and that is at least 50% of the market. The great thing about WordPress (especially with my site), is that you can view it on smartphones and tablets easily. Some WordPress themes has the ability to automatically format correctly if you’re viewing from your phone or on your computer (it’s called Responsive Design). Another reason why Flash sites are dying because they are not friendly for search engines. If people already know the name of your business, it’s easy to find on Google, but if people are searching for generic keywords like “photographer in Las Vegas” or “Las Vegas wedding photography”, a search-engine friendly site will pick up these keywords and have a higher chance to appear on the first 10 of the search page.

    As for your photography, my critiques mostly echos everyone’s posts before mine, but again, I’m starting out and I don’t have the same level of confidence to critique your photography the same way I can critique your website.

    On a final note, it seems like you really love your website, so I would just keep it for your own personal use or to share with friends and family. But if really want to advertise your photography, I would make a separate website solely on that.

    And by the way, sorry for my shameless promotion, but I am also a freelance web and graphic designer, so if you need help at a low price, let me know!


    Anjanette, your website is super clean and easy to navigate. I need to change mine quite a bit as well, especially after seeing yours. It’s more or less spending the time to figure it out more. Is yours one where you paid more to personalize it differently? (I just use the free wordpress version).


    I’d get rid of the Wix site and the music, like the two above said.  You have to consider your audience. Everytime I go to a page and there is music I turn it off..if I can’t turn it off , I get frustrated and leave.  WordPress is wonderful. If you don’t have the tech savvy to get that up, try a paid site like PhotoBiz or Zenfolio. I also suggest heading over to digital-photography-school.com. While you can get great critiques from this site, it’s really about bashing fauxtogs (I feel bad for even being here, but the pics posted are like train wrecks, can’t help but stare).


    Also, for a photo hosting site, check out SmugMug. It costs a fee every year, more or less depending on the type of account you get. But you can make private albums to store full-size files for your personal photos as well as client photos. You can password-protect albums so that you can give clients a password to view their own album. It’s a great additional backup as well, if you’re paranoid like I am about your computer crashing or losing files in any way. You can customize the look of it to a degree, and if you pay for the pro account I think you can make it look/behave like a real website too.

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