November 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm #4340
No need to be sorry, Megan. As brutal as this site can be on those claiming to be “professional”, there are others who genuinely try to help even if they are somewhat harsh at times. You’ll be better for it in the long run. I’m curious, though, if you know this person (also from your hometown!) who is being talked about in another forum.November 3, 2012 at 11:14 pm #4341
MBC and anyone else who would like to comment, what are your thoughts on resources like Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Brian Peterson, and others for learning photographic techniques, etc?November 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm #4343
Oh my gosh!! That’s almost creepy. I know her yeah! We live in a pretty small area she’s a friend of mines mom.November 4, 2012 at 12:59 am #4346
testing (just lost two posts)November 4, 2012 at 1:50 am #4348MBChamberlainMember
What you are describing is a branch of retouching called photo-art. I’m not saying that photo art is bad, and I know that is the look you’re going for. My point is that photo art is only as good as the photo. If it is not a good photo, it will not be good photo art. I’m not a photo artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned through what little experimentation I’ve done with it that if you want to do it, you must shoot your images in a very specific way depending on the effect you want and you must do it with a level of technical precision beyond what is required for normal shooting.
If you take a photo with bad lighting, bad composition, bad framing, and bad exposure and try to make photo art out of it, you get photo art with bad lighting, bad composition, bad framing, and bad exposure with the added problem of now being bad photo art as well. And to be perfectly frank with you, if your goal is to “look more like a painting or almost animated” you’re not succeeding there either, I don’t get the impression that that is your goal, and the images don’t look that way at all, they look like they have been mangled by someone with only the most basic understanding of how to use Photoshop.
If the photo isn’t good enough to sell, trying to turn it into photo art to make it salable makes the problem worse, not better. I have done some stylized work for some of my clients. Take this image for example:
The client requested something that had an old glass plate feel to it. So I whipped this up (took about 4 minutes). The image itself is solid, good lighting, good exposure, good focus. Editing is simple, complements and enhances the emotional impact of the image. But if the image had been bad, I could have stylized it until the end of time and never gotten a shot that would have pleased my client, let alone myself.
Either way, you can’t get away with sloppy shooting if you want to create real photo art any more than a painter could get away with using poorly mixed paints to try to create on canvas.
You may not use the term professional photographer. But you call yourself a photographer and charge for your work, so you style yourself a professional none the less.
The biggest reason I say that you don’t go in with something in mind and create that is that you shoot one decent shot among 10 really really bad ones. That speaks of spray and pray to me. You may have something in mind, yes, but you don’t understand how to make it happen, you just shoot a lot of shots and hope something materializes.
I’ve never been impressed with Kelby’s work (as a teacher), he seems to be a tutorial hound, but he doesn’t really explain anything well enough to consider it teaching. You need a good understanding of what he’s doing to adapt the tutorials to your own images and I don’t feel he supplies that. His work is excellent, but he just doesn’t know how to teach it well. I’m familiar with McNally and Peterson’s work, but I’ve never read their books or taken their workshops. My inclination is that their stuff, while good and accurate advice, can actually be harmful to someone who doesn’t have a good solid foundation though.
One of the problems with learning from the internet these days is that the information hits you somewhat at random. A good book will provide a much more focused approach. It will cover the major points of technical understanding in a straight forward and methodical way that makes sure you learn things in an order that they are of use to you. There is just too much to miss if you learn from blogs and tutorials at random.
This is a good example, today I was out running a few errands and I spotted a guy shooting pictures in the park. He had his flash pointed straight up into the sky while he was trying to shoot some people sitting in the grass. I know he read on some blog somewhere that it’s better to shoot your flash pointed up so you get better lighting. He just doesn’t understand that that only works if you have a ceiling to bounce off of, and it doesn’t help you outside because you can’t bounce the flash off the sky. This shows me that he’s trying to tackle the finer points of lighting without the basic understanding of how light works that every photographer needs. This connects back to the Kelby comments, you can’t understand how unless you understand why as well.November 4, 2012 at 9:50 am #4349
OK so I’m going to try this again URGH! (hopefully the third time is the charm)
Megan, no need to apologize. I think it’s wonderful that you are communicating and trying to understand, and trying to explain how you feel as well. Even though we have never met, I think you are a good person with the best intentions.
If you are really in this to express yourself artistically through photography, I know you will listen to all that was said, and listen to your gut has been trying to tell you as well. If it’s more about attention, acknowledgment, popularity, or a way to have your loved ones and yourself validate/understand what you do by adding monetary gain into the equation, then it will be about your business and not about you or your photography, and you will continue to struggle with it until you move on to something else.
A while back someone posted on a family member’s behalf, and I want you to read it
There are other ways for people in your life to encourage you. Teach them how. When you say “no” to someone wanting you to take their important portraits or cover their event, you aren’t saying “I am unwilling to help you”. In fact you can offer to help them find the right pro for the job. Not only will they admire it, and respect you for it, but you will be teaching them the value of what you are trying to achieve, and the value of good photography. Saying “no” frees you to learn and discover how good your photography can be. The demand WILL die down. Believe me there is a lot less expense being a student than there is being in business, as long as you are serious and honest about it. Shooting for others no matter the money involved or even for free, is completely different than shooting for yourself, once you really commit to it and are comfortable with it and it’s lack of attention and Facebook likes, you’ll really grow and learn so much from it.
No matter what you chose to do next, you own it. It’s yours and yours alone. Own it, and be comfortable with it. I wish you the best
“My point is that photo art is only as good as the photo. If it is not a good photo, it will not be good photo art. I’m not a photo artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned through what little experimentation I’ve done with it that if you want to do it, you must shoot your images in a very specific way depending on the effect you want and you must do it with a level of technical precision beyond what is required for normal shooting”
MBC nailed it! (of course he usually does) Build that foundation first Megan, the decorating will come later.November 4, 2012 at 9:58 am #4353
evidently I cannot link to the post I wanted you to read. It’s in the “Am I a Fauxtog” forum. Page 3 I believe, titled “Advice or Comments Please?”November 4, 2012 at 11:19 am #4354
MBC, I have to agree. Books are almost always better than the “movie” (workshops, blogs, online tutorials, etc). I have some books from the people I mentioned and some parts are OK, while others not so much. If there are any book resources that you recommend, let us know.November 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm #4355SECMember
I just looked through the photos on your facebook page. I will repeat what I have written x times before: Facebook is one of the worst online photo presentation tools, but that’s what we have. There may be more stuff we could “like” but Facebook’s algorithm wipes it out.
But MBC is great at reading facebook portfolios from an experienced and educated photography background, so I would advise you take seriously any of his tips.
I like that there is nothing blatantly wrong in your photos (i.e. stuff that makes the YANAP front page). But professionals go way beyond that; even beyond “okay.” Which is the main point for most of us: the web is filled with “okay.”
But as I look through your facebook portfolio — and this is in general — there are things that immediately catch my eye (a 35 year photo veteran). I see an entire portfolio polluted with trendy lightroom/photoshop actions. I know it is intentional. I know your clients might like it (i.e. it sells!) And that, my dear, is the “problem.” It is the difference between shopping at Wal-mart and Barney’s New York. Cookie-cutter, trendy stuff; photo cliche. I would encourage you to step out of that habit. Step into original images with no editing (aside from possibly a crop.) I think the fact that we cannot pinpoint a particularly bad shot is a great indicator.
Another consistent thing I noticed was tilted background. I was nearly seasick. To the right, to the left, to the right. It hardly stopped, making it difficult to determine if you could do backgrounds professionally. Here’s some vocab from the old days of photography: Rule of Thirds and Horizontal Lines. Buy a book or two on those specific subjects. (The fact that there are entire books about lines in photography should tell you something.) Perfectly horizontal lines create a sense of calmness. Tilts, crooked, uneven lines leave the viewer unsettled. You might be surprised just how fun it is to learn this part of composition and how wrong many “fauxtogs” are. Specifically, go to October 17. There is the photo of the 2 girls and dog; then two kids. The one of the two girls: the horizon line is unsettling here — just barely off. Annoyingly off AND it runs right through their heads — which could be a good thing but in this case is not, because it is tilted. The lines on the photos with the two kids are extremely dominant and kept my eye from even looking at the kids.
Now there are OBVIOUS lines, real lines in photos and there are imaginary lines — perceived lines that don’t really exist physically. I strongly suggest every photographer study Gestalt. That alone would give you a whole new perspective on your work. I think subconsciously you ARE using lines, but possibly using them incorrectly or just not knowing how to use them. The one of the boy at the lake on October 15 is just plain wrong. Water horizons are not naturally tilted and so the viewer is left unsettled.
But there is so much potential. You need to force yourself over the learning curve and step into more advanced methods. Practice using lines, dominance, white space, repetition of patterns/shapes. Don’t practice any more lightroom/photoshop tricks.November 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm #4356
I really appreciate all of your suggestions! Again, I do only have knowledge as far as I’ve taught myself.. Never taken a single class or workshop and I hope to change that soon… I’m definitely going to look into the books you have mentioned.
this isn’t an excuse but a genuine concern… What if I LIKE the way I compose now?November 5, 2012 at 8:59 am #4373SECMember
Well, then, Megan, I will refer you to Dr. Richard Zakia (probably the greatest photography instructor who ever lived). Google him (he died last March and has left a huge void). He has greatly inspired many on photographic perceptions. Pick up a copy of one of his perception and imaging books. I can almost guarantee it will change the way you shoot. It will change the whole way you see photographs. It will open a new world to your artistic vision.
But to be fair, professional photo critiquing requires criteria — standard criteria — which we are not given in YANAP. One cannot truly and professionally critique a photograph (note: “a photograph” not, “my gallery”) fairly without that criteria.
And since have no criteria, and we have an impossibly huge set of variables (many photos, many subjects, many circumstances, etc.). That’s why I always try to narrow my comments to one or two specific photographs.
Imagine if the only criteria here on YANAP was blurriness/focus. Ranked on a scale from 1-10, I think you would get a perfect 10. But to single out that criteria leaves infinite other photo qualities unremarkable. AND, one could also go opposite and set a criteria for “creative use of bokeh,” which would be ranking on the effectiveness of intentional blurriness. So you see — this isn’t an excuse, either, but a concern for all these forum critiques.
Maybe we should set some specific criteria here. Eh? YANAP?
All that said, if you still like your composition — then I refer you to Frederick Remington who said, “I’m willing to be judged by posterity, it’s not important what people think now.”November 5, 2012 at 10:19 am #4377
“I’m willing to be judged by posterity, it’s not important what people think now.”
I loved this and I thank you so much.
🙂 I think what I give the familes I work for is memories… a lot of the young and new families I work for would otherwise not get a photographer at all. I know my work is not all 100 percent technically perfect.. BUT my clients are happy, and on the occasions that I am not happy.. I reshoot for them. I probably shoot at least half what I do for free… for close family and friends and a very very high majority of people I photograph, I have been for years… a couple of them have tried other photographers in between, when I have been on maternity leave.. busy.. or simply because they liked that persons style and wanted to go that direction… and almost all of them I have photographed more since trying someone else.. .and it does not bother me AT ALL if someone wanted to go with another person… It just doesn’t.. I am not doing this because I think I am the best.. or because I want to get rich, I do it because I love it, and because I know the person I am working for appreciates it, and will for years to come.
I think I am pretty good at what I do.. especially for being self taught, but I know I can get better. I know I need to clean up my portfolio.. and when I look at an image and think.. oooooh she’ll love it!!.. but my focus is slightly off.. I should hold back from publically posting… you have said a pro would NEVER show someone an unperfect image.. well then I am not sure I want to be that kind of pro…. I am a mom and if someone took an image of my kids.. perfect or not.. I would want it… and I know my clients do too.. the ones that are going for the BEST of the best out there would most likely go someowhere else? I would like to be considered one of the best one day sure.. but not by compromising what I love or what makes me happy.. and I am happy to provide memories.. right now at least.. I do cringe sometimes when I see my old work and know how much better it could have been so I do what to improve and become more consistant…
Its been said on here I just shoot and hope something turns out.. I don’t do that.. maybe I did at the start.. but for the last couple years for sure, I shoot 100 percent manual… I decide what I want to do.. I see it in my head.. I choose light that catches my eye.. I choose ISO, aprature, and shutter speed and I use my focal points.. 99 percent of the time I know how I want to process the image as soon as I am taking it.. and when I get a great straight out of camera image… I still want to process it.. because thats what I do… I do not intend to ever try and fit a certain mould.. I not trying to be innovative or unique or an artist just for praise.. I do what I enjoy doing and what makes me smile and so far for quite a few years.. my clients are happy.. they keep coming back.. and that leaves me proud and fullfilled and I do not think I am giving the crap, in any sense of the word.
Thank you so much for the suggestions, and I will for sure look into each and every one that I beleive applys to me! 🙂November 5, 2012 at 10:22 am #4379
.. the last response was to this entire thread not just SEC..
‘Pick up a copy of one of his perception and imaging books. I can almost guarantee it will change the way you shoot. It will change the whole way you see photographs. It will open a new world to your artistic vision.”
Thank you very much I will for sure!! :))November 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm #4387MBChamberlainMember
Good call SEC, Zakia’s work should definitely be on the required reading list for photographers.November 12, 2012 at 4:28 am #4511rocktographerMember
Maybe at least ease wayyy up on the exaggerated ultra blue eyes edits – it’s not overdone in all of them, but this one for example…a little Village Of The Damned-ish. Even the trendy-loving moms want the photos they get back to really look like their child, especially when it comes to the eyes.
Cute pics, though
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