Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Scared to show up on this website.

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    I don’t think I’m a fauxtog but it does scare me to be on this website. lol

    I’ve been doing photography for about 2 years. I’m 21 years old and love every minute of photography but sometimes the fauxtogs in my area bring it down because clients expect $30 sessions for session and CD.

    Regardless though I’d love to have some critique and hear what you guys have to say.




    I really, really like your newborn stuff!

    You should look into getting a site up, Facebook is handy to get your stuff out there but it doesn’t show professionalism or dedication. Try and keep your personal stuff off the photography’s Facebook page too (random shots of the dog and rain clouds specifically.)

    Your pictures are amazing when you’ve put thought into the compositions, but a few of them just seem like you took them without knowing what you wanted it to look like.

    I definitely think you’re on the right path though, keep it up!


    I think you’re right, you’re definitely not a fauxtog. You’ve got a wonderful eye and a good artistic sensibility.

    That being said, you may have rushed into the business a little bit too quickly. You have some really good foundations in your work, but it is just a bit amateurish from a production standpoint. I feel that by running headlong into the business side of things you really haven’t had a chance to experiment, to branch out and develop your own style. The biggest problem I see is that I have seen every shot in your portfolio before, most hundreds of timed. They are good, but I can’t tell how much of that is you, and how much of that is your ability to reproduce things  you’ve seen.

    The other thing I see is that you are very Photoshop dependent. I’ve been using Photoshop almost from day one, and over the years I have seen what should be a pole-vault used as a crutch. Special effects not withstanding (like things where you intend to use Photoshop, especially for the baby’s safety), how many of your photos could you really just print and sell right out of the camera? I’m seeing Photoshop used to correct for lighting problems, exposure problems, focusing problems, depth of field issues, ad nauseum. As it is, you are spending far, far more time than you need to on your shots.

    I would also advise you to take down your video tutorials. If you really want to teach people, load them up to Blip and get a per-watch advertising bonus. The Total Training tutorial dvd series for Photoshop, which is 18 hours long, is only $109. And please don’t take this the wrong way, but you just haven’t reached the level of skill to teach yet. It’s like the joke about the first grade kid who told his mother that he was gonna quit school, and when queried about what he would do with a first grade education answered “teach kindergarten.”

    Now, all that being said. You are far better than most and particularly for only having been in it two years. Study and work hard and you’ll do very very well.


    She does have a website here http://www.erikamariephotos.com  Most people have a link to their website (if they have one) in their “About” section.

    I personally don’t have a problem at all with having personal stuff posted on a business FB page.  I think it helps keep people interested/involved, and it’s a smart move for the type of tog she is.  To me it works.

    I do however have a problem with the mentoring.  Maybe it’s just me, but how long have you been shooting?  and how long have you been in business?

    Seems to me that 2 years is a very short time, you are still in a beginning learning phase yourself, and still have no feasible idea of whether your business will be successful or not.  I know I wouldnt want mentoring from someone with only 2 years behind their belt.  It just makes me a bit uneasy, almost gives me a “she’s growing fauxtogs” feeling.

    With that said I don’t think you have to ever worry about being a featured here at YANAP.  You have some very nice images.  I agree with the PP about how some of them dont look well thought out, almost as if things were rushed and you didn’t quite know what to do or what you were after (and hey!  I dont blame you!  it’s daunting!).  The consistency that is lacking, I think, will come with experience.  As a whole, your exposures are right on, your comp isnt bad, your processing is subtle and enhances your photos, you have a good basic understanding of light, and your focus and focal points are right on.  (very nit picky thing and it’s only because I’m so darn anal lol) Some of your black and whites, look to be an action or preset instead of tweaked  individually.  They are just a bit off.  None of your images made me cringe, or look down and shake my head and think “WHY?!”  lol  You obviously care about what you do and that’s A OK in my book.


    MBC we were posting at the same time ( I’m just slower than you lol)

    i was thinking the same thing as you about how quick she was going, but didn’t know how to word it without it sounding horrible.  So I sat and thought about it some, and here’s my attempt at trying to get my point across without sounding like the photography police or worse.

    Erika, you and I are at about the same learning phase/skill level But i have no intention of going into business any time soon.  I don’t think either of us suck, and this isn’t to discourage you in any way.  But, when you jump into business too quickly, it puts a damper on the learning process.  When I first decided “I want to learn portraiture”. I jumped in head first, and started shooting friends, friends kids, friends of friends, but quickly realized I wasn’t learning what I needed to learn (very quickly.  I only had 4 “sessions”).  I was going too quickly, even when my intentions were good, even though I wasnt charging, and I had a lesson or lessons planned for myself.  When you shoot for others they become more important than anything else.  More important than the technical.  More important than the experiment you had in mind.  They become personally invested, and making sure you have good images for them becomes more important than trying for more, trying something new, pushing yourself and your camera.  It just all becomes about getting it correct or “good enough”.  Thing is, I think you have some serious potential to be a fantastic portrait photographer.  And I feel you may be stunting or at least slowing your progress.  I understand the pressure you are under with friends and family pushing you to make money and be pro, and I also know it would be very difficult To even consider slowing down on the business end of things at this point.  But, be sure to fit REAL lessons in.  Be honest with yourself.  are you progressing?  or at a stand still?  Take time out to shoot for yourself.  A new concept, lighting set up, pose, etc etc etc that you want to try?  Seek it out and do it.  Not for them, not for or with a paying client, but for you and your photography, With a model that you sought out for.  Go for SOC shots.  Make time for it.  Because completely depending on actions and presets and photoshop skills isn’t going to do you any favors.  Good editing is important, but not near as important as your straight up photography skills are.


    Thanks for the criticism guys!


    Just in response, I feel like I am still moving forward a TON and learning as I go. I fully 100% know how to use my equipment and know what images I want to create as I’m taking them. I hardly do any editing to my images. So I don’t get how someone things I’m extremely dependent on photoshop. lol. I like things to look natural and clean so I’m not sure what is coming off as over edited or such? Also I do photoshop stuff when it comes to composites because of baby safety. I go out almost daily and shoot for myself, and continue to practice and learn and go to workshops, classes, etc.


    I would like to know what you guys see that makes it look like I don’t know what I’m expecting when I take an image.


    And when it comes to mentoring, I have a ton of people ask as they look up to my work and what to see how I do what I do.

    Not trying to sound upset at all, just trying to understand what everyone is saying.


    And can you guys link your websites/pages I’d love to connect.






    Erika, based on the criteria I use I would not categorize you as a fauxtog. I looked at your site, not your facebook page. The rates you are charging are more in line with where you probably need to be. I personally do not see what Michael must see on the over processing. But then again  I did not look at your Facebook Page. IHF I agree with a good many times and I must say I do with him this time on the mentoring. But then again if you are getting paid $100.00 hr then I would probably do it as well. To me it looks like all of your images are shot with purpose and thought. You are charging a reasonable session fee as well. You may be one of the few who actually makes it.



    First off, you take criticism well, which is another important trait of a good photographer. In addition, it raises my level of respect for you greatly.

    Here is one of the problems as I see it, you claim you totally 100% know how to use your camera. But you also say that you are still learning tons.  It can’t be both. And quite frankly, I’ve been shooting professionally for over 20 years, and I spend 12 years apprenticing and practicing before that, I can confidently say that I have forgotten more about photography than you know, and I would assess my knowledge of “how to use my camera” maybe at 10%. Not because my knowledge is lacking, but just because I’ve been around long enough to know just how much there is to know. I realize that you are overstating your position for emphasis, but it is symptomatic of a person who has yet to discover just how much they truly don’t know.

    First off, I didn’t say you photos were over-edited. Your eye for editing is quite good and you do maintain a subtlety I rarely see in someone so new. What I said was, you NEED it. I challenged you to ask yourself if you thought you could sell your images without it? Your defensive reaction (i.e. overstating your knowledge) just serves to drive home the point. Like I said, there is nothing particularly wrong with using Photoshop, but you are walking a dangerous tightrope because to the untrained eye, Photoshop is easier and faster than learning the correct techniques.

    Now, to my assessment of your editing, I fully understand that if it scaled down and that makes some of the things I’m going to discuss a little difficult to see for certain, but per your request I am going to point out exactly what I see. I have selected a recent photo at random for assessment.


    Let us begin, and I apologize that this will sound a little harsh, but you’ve got me in grading mode and, as I explain to my students, don’t take anything I say personally.

    First, your shot was almost definitely underexposed. Judging by the apparent grain enhancement caused by push processing your files, I’m going to estimate 2/3 of a stop underexposed.
    Second, you boosted the brightness about 15 points and increased the contrast about 30 points.
    Third, you adjusted the tone curve to strong contrast.
    I looks like you adjusted the color in Lightroom, but I’m not positive this isn’t a side effect of the lighting being slightly different temperatures, so I’ll give a pass on that one.
    Then you opened it up in Photoshop you sharpened the image using USM (which isn’t a very good technique for sharpening) and I’ll bet you a quid to quai that you didn’t use a layer mask, you backed up the history and dragged out the history brush to paint it in because the edges of the USM areas aren’t smooth enough to be layer masks. While you were doing this, you missed both sides of the baby’s cheeks at the jawline and a couple of spots on his arm.
    Next you decided you weren’t happy with the depth of field, this would have been corrected if that initial 2/3 stop had been corrected in camera at this distance, but there you go. So you Gaussian blurred the entire image, backed up and whipped out the history brush again (same problem as before with the edges) and painted in the areas you felt should have more blur, ignoring the fact that the focal plane wouldn’t allow things like, for example, the area where the baby’s hand meets his hair to be out of focus, as areas of the image both in front of and behind that plane are within the depth of field.
    There are a couple of places where it looks like you might have heal scars, but I’m gonna attribute those to compression artifact and give you the benefit of the doubt on those.

    Had all of those things been corrected in camera, the shot would have been salable with no editing whatsoever. But had you edited it, these would have been my recommendations. Fill light of +15, black value of +20, and a Vibrance of +28. This will compensate for the slightly flat nature of digital far better than brightness, contrast or tone curve and provide a fairly accurate representation of Kodak Portra VC, which is the preferred film for working with this type of work.
    Then I would have recommended increasing the yellows in the magenta range slightly to compensate for the apparent light reflection aberrations, and dodged the area on his right cheek just a bit, then burned his shoulder and forearm slightly to eliminate those hotspots and packaged it up for sale. (Because it’s digital, you always need to do a slight sharpening to compensate for the interpolation of Beyer type sensors, but this should be done at size, never on the image before it has been sized to it’s final output.) This would have taken all of about 2 minutes to complete.

    And this image is by no means unique in this regard.

    Does this better explain my position?

    This is why I so heavily discourage going pro too soon, when you shoot only for yourself, you learn photography, when you have to please a client, you learn damage control. This is also why trying to teach and mentor is so dangerous for you. Like it or not, you don’t actually know that much yet, and you have a lot of really bad habits that stem, not from ineptitude, but from simple lack of experience. To take on the task of teaching others means that you will transfer those bad habits to them and because you style yourself a pro when you are at the level of proficient amateur, they will not question it. You are doing them a disservice simply by letting them believe you are something you are not (yet).

    Oh, one more thing, please don’t use the black and white adjustment anymore. It is a very bad tool (desaturates and modulates the result) and I’ve had words with a couple of people I know at Adobe about removing it as the default recommendation when you change to grayscale mode. Learn to use the channel mixer instead, it produces a result that has neither desaturation or frequency modulation, and doesn’t fall victim to the pitfalls of not being able to modify low-saturation areas of the image.


    I don’t think anyone was saying that you over edit.  I think your editing is lovely and subtle.  All I meant was that in camera techniques should come first, because without it, you don’t have the strong foundation you need for longevity in the business as styles/fads/tastes/trends/technology/Equipment change over time.

    When I said “Be honest with yourself.  are you progressing?  or at a stand still?”  That was a question to ask yourself, not a question I was asking of you because I felt you were not progressing.  If you feel that you can learn what you need while being in business, and take both learning processes on simultaneously and still progress, that’s wonderful, kudos to you.  Not just everyone can do that, it’s actually quite rare.  I realize that everyone learns differently and they lead different lives than myself.  I just know that I can’t manage it and learn properly, and while shooting for others no matter how briefly I did, I truly wasn’t learning what I needed to, and felt that I was pushed to learn so much on the business end of things, as well as editing, service, how to connect properly with people, props, products etc etc, that my photography itself was taking a backseat to everything else that became so much more important.  I bit off more than I could chew, and that was without ever being in business.

    “I would like to know what you guys see that makes it look like I don’t know what I’m expecting when I take an image”

    The consistency isn’t there.  Now this is just in general, there aren’t any particular photos vs. another to compare what I was trying to say.  Just “This is done this particular way, and then that photo is goes in a completely different direction”  It happens, it’s all part of the process.  This doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong per say, just that I can see from your photos that you are new to this and haven’t honed in on “your thing” completely.  I can see that you are still experimenting with replicating what you have seen and admire (and you do it well).  I can also see you have an eye, talent, and you care about what you are doing.  My only concern was/is that you are moving too quickly and taking too much on at once.  To the point where I felt your photography could suffer for it.  Only you can be the true judge of that.

    Here’s a link to the photos I share publicly and make a few sales from

    I dont post my portraiture publicly because I’m still learning and dont have clients, or shoot for people other than myself


    This is not a brag (I realize my shots are amateurish, simplistic and not near as difficult/challenging as portraiture can be), or a statement to say I am right and you are wrong (we all take different paths, and have different learning processes)… but the majority, minus only a small handful and one manip are SOC (maybe a few with some brushed in definition on the focal point) because I haven’t even begun to teach myself advanced editing.  I dont even own photoshop because I’m not ready to take on more than just minor editing at this point.  I dont even load my RAWs into my software, unless I used my camera on vaca or a family event, and want to salvage every possible shot regardless what may have went wrong.  This is because I dont want to be able to fall back on it.  I want to master in camera first.  So I hope now that you have a better understanding of where I’m coming from, and a little about how I shoot, you decide not to take offense to anything I’ve said to you.  Because it was not written in that light, and not my intentions at all.  You asked for critique and opinions, and I was just doing my best to provide it.  Remember even the greatest of greatest photogs of all time can seek CC and receive a ton of it.  There’s no such thing as perfect.


    Yes. It is scary to ask for feedback here.

    Especially when asking for feedback from posts to a Facebook page because there are so many variables: downsizing files, images that you have shared that may not be yours; sharing for reasons other than business, etc. Studio shots and fine portraiture are often expected to be extremely technically perfect. Action, on-the-spot and nature/wildlife photography are different, because we don’t have total control over the setting. I’d say the latter can generally be less technically correct. And MBC has very precise & correct technical expertise — I’d ditto what he said, ESPECIALLY about the black and white adjustment. I will leave the tech advice to MBC and address composition.

    And, I’ll  limit myself to the frog shots. You melded a frog (wildlife) and studio. There are so many creative elements to this series. Juxtaposition, storytelling, etc. But, with a shoot like this comes a whole new learning curve. Can’t exactly tell him to turn a little to the side or to look up; or was he totally photoshopped?  What lens did you use? I think the photos would be better with more DOF & you could do that by opening up your lens; using a tripod and better lighting.

    My favorite one is where he is holding the guitar and looking at the camera, no crown. In the one where he is leaned forward on the guitar I would have you consider a couple of things: 1. Very shallow DOF (there should be a bit more in focus) 2. The natural eye-line of the photo starts with the frog and carries to the nail in the drawer. Can you see that? It’s the dominance and balance between dark & light and big & small AND also the subconscious arrow pointing directly to the nail. Can you see the arrow? Also, the ones with the duck: the duck seems dominant because of the brightness. It is one of the tricks professionals use to draw subconscious attention to the subject.

    But over all, I see a talent and ability far past that of a fauxtog. Your watermark, however, screams amateur. It is a cursive font (with strokes specifically for connecting the characters) with added leading (spaced out) causing both an unnatural and disconnected look. The placement of the watermark is also inconsistent — just enough to be annoying. Can you imagine if Ansel Adams had slapped his watermark right across the face of Monolith? Consider TreyRatcliff”s opinion: https://plus.google.com/+TreyRatcliff/posts/UTKKo5Su6Rj



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