Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Comment & Critique

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    New to the site and have enjoyed rummaging through all the posts on the page as well as in the forums.

    I graduated from a BFA program a few years ago. I’m still new to the business side of photography but feel I have been doing pretty well so far. I work primarily as a production photographer for theatre companies in Halifax, NS doing archival and promotional work. I shoot both dress rehearsals and set-up photocalls. I also occasionally do headshots for performers and portraits for friends. I feel my production work is stronger than my portrait work so that’s where I put my focus in business wise but I don’t turn down portrait and headshot work. My website also includes some of my personal work just as an idea of scope of my work, but it’s not for sale.

    Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten some comments and critiques on my work, I’ve kind of missed that aspect of being in school, so I would appreciate some constructive criticism.

    Here’s my website: http://www.mjphotographics.com

    – MJ


    Text from your page:  “My approach to portraits is very much like the Impressionists, I like natural light the the great outdoors. So, when possible, I conduct all portrait and headshot sessions outside and in the downtown Halifax area.”

    A few quick general comments, ’cause your photos are pretty good:

    Leslie’s skin is too bright, and her chest and arms are too bright relative to her face.

    The bottom half of Monica’s photo, could also be a little darker, try dodging a bit and see what you think.

    I know they’re head shots.  Tim seems like a big friendly guy.  Too big, in the photo, perhaps.  I think if he were back  a bit further, I wouldn’t feel like he was in my face, quite so much.  His eyes could be sharper/more in focus?  He needs to get a haircut.

    Shay should be turned slightly to her right to hide her right ear.  Is leading with her jaw really her best angle?

    Adam’s hair fades into the dark background.

    Pay attention to your backgrounds.  I wonder how Chantal feels about being photographed in prison.

    Kira has bra strap showing.




    On my iPad right now. Your site didn’t work for me. I was unable to navigate from your home page because the images hid the navigation tabs completely from view and weren’t clickable.
    I’ll be able to check on my computer later, but I thought I’d let you know iPad no worky.


    I see a lot of focus problems in your theater port as well as some of your portrait work.  Like CC said, watch the details, and try not to cut off limbs at the joints. A few times you used a dutch angle inappropriately, and the shots would have looked better not only level, but as landscape catching more of the scene.  Over all I think you are doing quite well.  I really like your food shots, and some of your personal work.  Keep going and as you get more gigs, remember to cull down, and get rid of shots that don’t work quite as well as you go.  All I know is I’m interested, and would LOVE to be able to check back with you after a year or so.  I can imagine your port improving by leaps and bounds rather quickly


    oh and I’d lose the babies.  As cute as those little ones are, they just don’t quite fit in with what you are selling, and aren’t very strong good work at all.  Stick with what really gets you going because it shows


    Thank you both for your comments. I will definitely take a lot of what you said into consideration for my next shoots, it’s all super helpful!

    I’m hoping the focus problems you’re seeing will improve with better equipment. I’ve used my kit lenses a lot, as for a while that’s all I could afford but with more work coming in I’ve been able to rent some better ones recently and the results were much sharper as far as I could tell.

    Thanks again!

    PS: Not sure why the site wouldn’t work on the iPad, it’s worked on my iPhone and iPod Touch no problem, but thanks for letting me know and I’ll look into it!


    Your theatre work isn’t really anything to brag about… I’d pull it off your website (minus The Maids Tragedy – Vile Passeist Promo Shoot photo – this photo would be amazing if you made it level [easy fix]).

    Your theatre work just lacks anything special… a lot of the photos are too dark, and you have inconsistent skin tones. I know it’s hard to photograph shows like those because they’re generally dark and if you don’t have a camera that can produce decent images with high ISO, you’re going to have a problem.


    Your portraits also lack anything special about them. There are a few shots that are great in terms of exposure, composition and focus… But they just look like good snapshots. Nothing someone really should pay for (in my opinion).

    Your food shots are nice, but they could be better if, on the dishes that were bigger, you had a wider depth of field. (Fred01 specifically)

    If this is your business page, I’d take down the snapshots of your trips/around town that don’t have any other merit other than you were there and it looked cool. You should take out “Personal” and make it “Commercial” and have your food shots and other product shots.


    ^ Just my 2 cents.


    nairbynairb: Thanks for your honest opinion, I guess. Although, if I pulled down everything you commented on I’d pretty much have nothing left on my website. Theatre photography is where I do about 90% of my business and I’ve always been pretty confident in the work I’ve done due to some previous positive  feedback but I guess everyone has a different view on what’s good and what’s not.



    Positive feedback is a scary thing.  Does the person providing feedback really mean it?  Are they trying to be kind?  Are they trying to encourage you because they love you?

    Not a bad thing if it encourages you to strive for better results and keeps you from giving up.  Not as good if it makes you feel you have arrived.  Anne Murray said in an interview that when she was small, she was singing and an aunt heard her.  Her aunt said she had a wonderful voice and should practice more.  You can look her up, she has had a string of hit records.  The next thing she said was that years later, after she was successful, she was told by another relative that her aunt who praised her, was tone deaf!

    Perhaps instead of just pulling down the theatre photos, you could replace them with better ones?

    I like the light in “The Last Five Years – Windsor Theatre, Mount Allison University”, but I’m not so sure the actress would be asking for a copy of it, to show her friends, future employers, and her mother.  She appears to be sitting sideways in an armchair, hanging onto the back to keep from falling out, while a band plays in the background.  Why any of this is happening, who or where she is supposed to be is unknown.  Really, the only cool things about the photo are a faceless back-lit blond in a short red and black dress.  It gets points for shape and light, but not for showing off the artist or the theatre.

    Don’t know if this will work, I’m going to try pasting one of your photos into the thread.  I think this one done in blue light is rather cool too.


    Sadly, no photo.  It was from Refuge – Eastern Front Theatre.  They are going downstairs in blue light.


    i think some people on here are too quick to pull down images after they get a bad reaction. Sometimes its just best to sleep on the ideas before making a rash decision. Your work is ok. The theater stuff serves a purpose and you do a lot of work. I’d consider having a separate place for that stuff…for those clients…it doesn’t do anything for the other work. Kind of like if i wanted to be a wedding photographer on the side, but still wanted to be considered a more serious photographer. The portraits are ok. lots of color issues. The light isn’t great all around. I don’t know why you call personal, personal. There isn’t really anything personal about it. Your food stuff looks nice…and i shoot food, so i think that’s saying something…


    Cameraclicker: Well, yes, I have gotten positive feedback from friends and family, the feedback I was referring to was from clients and other theatre professionals. People who don’t feel obligated to tell me good things about my work and who have worked with other theatre photographers before, so I tend to trust their judgement. And while it makes me feel confident in my work I definitely don’t feel like I’m done learning or like I won’t try harder to achieve even better results in the future. I just think it’s better than nairbynarb’s critique.

    The photos that are up in the theatre section of my site are what I feel is some of my best work (though maybe perhaps not all of them, some are much older than others). The Last Five Years photo you pointed out may not be the photo the actress will use in her portfolio, however it very likely could be used by the lighting designer for their portfolio. I find people tend to forget about all the other artists involved in theatre. The photos taken of a show are not just for the actors on stage, or the theatre itself, they also showcase the costume/lighting/set designer’s work. And every photo of a show isn’t going to showcase every element. But I like that one for it’s view of the lighting of this particular scene.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to be defensive or anything just wanted to try and justify some of my choices. I like the feedback when it’s actually helpful to me, not just you should take “everything” down. Thank you for your comments.


    ebi: Thanks for weighing in. Currently, as you can see from above, I am still happy with the theatre work I have up there and have no intention of taking it down. I’m not sure that I want to necessarily move my theatre work to a different space. I consider myself a theatre photographer first with portrait and other work on the side. I call the personal section, “Personal” because that’s exactly what it is, photos from my travels and non-commisioned/unpaid work. None of it really fits into a separate category because I don’t offer it as a service exactly.



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