Home Forums Photography Showcase I don't think I'm a fauxtog, but still value critiques

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    I just started shooting again after setting my camera down for a while. Just uploaded a couple new files here;


    – they reflect a change in my workflow. What do you think about the two newest additions? (toddler in orange / blue)

    Worst Case Scenario

    I can’t see any massive difference in shooting style. The site has too many shots of too many subjects to make a coherent portfolio. That said, there are some nice shots and everything seems sharp and well exposed.

    I’m guessing the top three shots all feature the same toddler? I’m guessing because none of them actually show his face! They are fine as personal holiday pics, but if you were trying to sell them there’s a few problems. Mainly the colour difference between them. There’s a red/brown boy in front of a red wall. A Yellow boy on a yellow beach and a chocolate brown boy on a blue beach. Also the people in the background of the second shot are distracting and both the beach shots could do with a lower camera angle.


    Worst Case: hey thanks for taking time to look. Thanks for the feedback.


    I don’t mind the differences in colour.  There is a lot of reflection off the red wall and you are into gold hour followed by the blue hour.  You can colour correct them all but then you loose the ambient light.  You could light the toddler with a flash which would keep him the same colour while the ambient light remains as it is but you have to keep the flash off the background which can be a challenge.  There are tricks for that, of course.  As individual pictures, I think the light is fine as it is.

    The wall is too busy.  Did you sharpen it?

    I would crop out the people in the top of the yellow beach photo, unless they are part of the family.  Cropping also makes the child larger in the frame and the camera angle makes more sense then.   I would adjust the exposure about a quarter stop darker.  If you use the shaded part of his sock as a white reference, it makes the whole scene brighter and more yellow.  Exposure has to be dropped a stop and a quarter.  It does interesting things to your foreground water.  I think it draws attention away from the child though.  Probably not the desired effect.

    The blue beach might have benefited from a polarizing filter to cut reflection from the water.  It may have benefited from a lens hood although the reflection might be too direct and would get past a lot of hoods.  A different angle may have helped reduce the reflections.  As WCS said, a lower camera angle may be good.  The usual advice is to get down to your subject’s level when shooting children.  Getting lower also makes women look more “leggy” which can be flattering.

    I think the last three are alright as family photos, but none are great.  I too, don’t see much difference between the current and past photos.  The good news is that they are in focus.

    I really like this one:

    BW baby boy

    He looks so old and world weary!

    The dogs would be better from ever so slightly further back.  The one on the left has its nose clipped by the edge of the frame.





    Cameraclicker: Awesome critique! I appreciate it – thanks for the tips


    There’s really nothing to notice when it comes to the change in workflow – I simply get through my editing process a lot faster than I used to.  So if there doesn’t seem to be any change, I guess that’s a plus.


    Also, to anyone else who’d be willing to offer critique, I’ve added more photos since the original post. The toddler pics are no longer the newest. Any critique is much appreciated.


    Looks like this place gets plenty of traffic and I always see critiques on the main page – isn’t there anyone else that has something to say?

    The Grim Corsair

    The Criticisms:

    Eyes – Generally, you want to show your subjects eyes in most shots. We connect with the eyes, as viewers. Without them, there is much less to draw me in, emotionally. There are about half a dozen pics where I cant see the subjects eyes and are pretty dull without them. Showing someone’s back is rarely a good choice without another very strong element.

    Composition – Harder to learn for many people. Study the Masters, both in photography and painting.  Having too much dead space in many of your shots, such as Tumon Crosswalk, Ocean Gaze, and all three National Harbours. Find the key element in your image, and get as tight as you can before you weaken its impact. If dead space isnt contributing to the impact of the image, its detracting enormously. This is not to be confused with “negative” space, which balances out other elements and gives valuable context. Get Michael Freeman’s books for help with composition especially.

    Intent – What is the intent of your chess images? I feel no emotion or beauty in them because you don’t know what you’re saying about them. Focus on one key element. A wide shot of some shiny chess pieces (with no humans playign) says nothing. Get closer, find a unique viewpoint, or find another subject.

    Get tight – While shooting, move around to eliminate all non-essential distracting elements and get close (or tight). In Perched, the background bird distracts and weakens the two subject birds (who’s eyes are barely visible). Move your shooting position and crop tightly.

    Edit till it hurts – The children’s sporting event needs to be dropped from your portfolio, except for “Classic Fun” (smiles and eyes!). The event itself is very busy and muddled in its backgrounds, so its not entirely your fault, but none of the images are strong. Shoot athletes, even kids, from in front, not behind. Get tight and shoot emotions when the athleticism is weaker or not very photogenic.

    Also, cut at least half of these shots out, and likely more. Only show your best work. Its painful, but weak shots dilute the impact of your good ones. Never show two or more similar images of the same person or location or event in a portfolio. Especially not two similar poses.


    The Compliments:

    Portraits – Definitely strong potential and talent in portraiture! 002, 001, and Pastor are solid. The closeup of the Asian girl is strong, but her eyes in the others make her look stoned. Hill had potential but his forearms overwhelm his interesting face and you cropped poorly. The dogs were graphically strong and captured them being sad about their collars, however you cropped too close to the left edge.

    Tumon Hill is dynamic and striking, esp with the arrow being a strong moving element. Adjust the framing and watch your flares in the lens. Either in or out, not halfway.

    The eggs shot has good lighting but the choice of focus point and depth leaves me wanting a different version.

    With any portraits that are more than just closeups, learn to choose better poses and have your subjects pose more naturally. Awkwardness kills a portrait.

    The foggy beach shot is soft and the rainy window is just meaningless. Nothing to look at there. The truck shot is just a truck shot. No unique angle or “story” there.

    Overall, strong potential in portraits! Lighting quite good in some. Expressions in the best 3 or 4 are very good and bring the person to life! Pay more attention to details and editing/cropping. Compare your work to similar pro works and see where the differences in impact come from. Cut out many of these pics from your portfolio and it will be much much stronger.

    One of my best learning experiences for shooting is to scan my eye around the edge of my frame as I shoot. It’s amazing how many distracting power lines, garbage cans, and random people you find along the edges. If you dont eliminate them now, its much harder to remove them later.

    Above average in skill! Find the story in your subjects and look for the strongest angles only. If you dont love staring at it once its edited, then no one else will either. Then ruthlessly weed out and post only the strongest image of each. If your picture doesnt tell a strong story of that moment, then its just a boring pic. Good luck!


    Grim: Thanks so much for all the info and your time – that was a tremendously helpful.

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