November 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm #15206
Hi. I recently started charging for my work. I’ve only had a few paying clients, but I think I’ve given them pretty solid images that they will be proud of down the road. I am, however, looking to improve. Please check out my work here: http://www.bitsofflairphotography.com . How do you think I’m doing so far? What area would you suggest I strengthen?
Any critique, criticism or reply is appreciated, even trolls. I want to get better. Sometimes you have to ask others of their opinion. As long as what you say is your truthful opinion, I welcome it.
Emilee SelfNovember 15, 2013 at 11:30 pm #15208
Your photos are pretty good, but you may be falling into that Faux trap.
Hear me out first.
I looked at your site, you have 3 sessions to view, so that is what I am basing my critique on. The images do not seem to have their own link so I will have to just name them by the order you have them listed.
Gallery 1 – Adriana’s session – the 5th image, please delete the selective color from your portfolio, it cries faux and the image does not need it. From the previous image, the bricks offer a nice warm background, your model is fair skinned anyway, so the warm color cast from the bricks will enhance her skin tone tremendously.
Don’t get me wrong, the pose looks good, but don’t fall for the selective color trap.
The 1st image is okay, her expression is not doing her any favors. Not sure if that is her normal pose face or not, but something is off about that one.
Gallery 2 – Courtney’s Session – 1st image, sort of okay, but not flattering. The leaf hiding her lip makes her nose appear larger. Pretty girl but needs some pop in her eyes, there is little to no catch lights.
Image 2 & 3, same thing, no catch lights and the pose makes her fore head wrinkle by looking upward.
Image 4, I see what you were going for but it is a little blown out and the DOF can be expanded a bit to make it more interesting.
Image 5 – Not sure what happened here or what you were going for? Please explain. Half of her is purple the other is a sepia tone. I would delete that one.
Gallery 3 – Zek – This is the one that is going to make you a faux for sure. Some of the images are very nice, but you have B&W’s next to the color version next to a sepia tone version. This is fine for showing the client, but to make yourself more professional looking and others to take you seriously, make a executive decision and go with the best of the bunch, not all of them. In this case less is more.
You have potential and do good work, some technical issues but who doesn’t have those. The key is to learn from those and improve upon them. Remember, to over always review your work, don’t be afraid to ask for outside opinions or critiques and don’t get high off your own farts, and you will be fine.
Keep shooting want to see more.November 16, 2013 at 6:44 am #15209WilsonMember
Only show your best work on your portfolio, have a separate section on your site for client access only. I don’t know how many photos that will be but keep it low. I haven’t looked at the photos yet I basically got lazy and didn’t want to check out each gallery. If I was a client I wouldn’t want to click each separate session.November 16, 2013 at 10:36 am #15210
Thank you both for your feedback. I’ve never had someone sit there and explain what they didn’t like about the website. I’m now working to improve my site’s flow and getting rid of ridiculously stupid choices. (What possessed me to put ALL of those pictures there? I had also completely forgotten them.) I have it set up so that i can send a link to a client and their personal gallery with their downloadable photos and it can only be seen if you have that address.
Thanks again, Wilson and Bill!November 16, 2013 at 11:27 am #15211nesgranMember
Get rid of the super heavy vignettes as well and I’m not sure what is going on with the spot colour of the girl with brown eyes and blue scarfNovember 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm #15218
@emileeself – I think your web site is fine for navigation, I had no trouble moving around within the photos. If you do any tweaking there, I would tread lightly. The key thing is if your clients can navigate easily, then your good.
I have had clients who navigate and get lost and I am not sure how they did. I try to set my site up so that even a noob to the interwebs can find their way.
It looks like you are focusing on portraits, so remember the eyes are the window to the soul. With that in mind, you want the eyes to be in focus and something to show that there is life in there, catchlight reflections do that. It draws people into the subject and can add so much vibrance to the eyes and the person they are attached to.
You are very welcome for the critique, I hope it helps out.
It is easy to get sucked into that mentality of posting everything or way too much, goes with the saying “more is better”, but in this case, you only want your best to shine, so “less is more”.
I have had shoots where I have taken over 150 – 200 shots, many look the same, and some were just overkill. The early times, I would present this to the client with the idea of giving them their moneys worth, but it never works.
If I shoot 100 shots in a session, usually I don’t now, out of those, I will present the client about 20 of the best and go from there. I may show them the rest just to make sure there isn’t a shot that they prefer over the ones I have selected, but 9 out of 10 times they agree with the ones I present them.
Good Luck Emilee.November 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm #15275IHFMember
I’m sorry but I get the feeling that you just started shooting, and you need more time behind the camera before you put your services out there for sale. Lot’s of faux red flags are going up for me. Time to hunker down and really start shooting to learn instead of earn. JMO, and you can take it or leave it, but… just calling it as I see it.November 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm #15335IHFMember
What are some of those red flags you ask?
Your prices, and their inconsistencies, like you are just pulling them out of thin air, or because you saw them somewhere and thought it looked good.
Your mini sessions on your site say $25 for 25 minutes, yet on your Facebook page you have Christmas and New Year 15 minute mini sessions starting for $40 to $60. Really?! Well then I’ll just take a 25minute mini for $25 please
On your site you have Your portrait sessions listed for $80 and your weddings are $150 an hour. Yet your Facebook says $50 per session and weddings are $100 per hour plus free family and party portraits before and after the wedding.
Not much care or thought went into this whole venture of yours.
Your Facebook wall is full of like ladders and “mingling” 631 fans, but rarely any sort of interaction going on. Meaning people that have liked your page have done so just to get a click back from you and they are done with it. What does this accomplish but a sense of falseness? Your likers (minus family and friends and a handful of others) aren’t even potential clients.
You have business cards, a cute little templet cover photo, selfies, all the best most popular actions too I bet, but there’s one thing you forgot in all of this photography business stuff, and that’s to learn portrait and event photography first.
Looks like you have yourself a pretty decent camera, but you haven’t learned how to properly select your focus, you haven’t taken the time to understand white balance, most likely shooting in an auto mode like maybe Aperture priority, so exposure isn’t quite getting understood either. You also don’t seem to have a good handle on lighting or posing etc NO your pictures won’t ever end up on the front page, they aren’t horrible eyesores, but I bet if you handed your neighbor your camera they would be able to take similar quality snaps as you.
I’m afraid you have also fallen into the faux hole that so many others have fallen into. It’s not impossible to get out of Emilee. You can do it
I bet it because you took it for yourself, not for money, or for any other reason but, the scene was beautiful and you wanted to capture it. Do more of that. Shooting for yourself that is. Give yourself some time to learn the craft before you take on business. I bet if you did that, your portfolio would get better and better so much faster than you think. Think about it. Wouldn’t it feel better to go into business without having “Am I fauxtographer?” hanging over your head? To be able to go in charging legit profitable prices, legally sound, and knowing you have the skills and knowledge needed to start a business with your photography and grow and learn from there?November 24, 2013 at 2:29 am #15343
IHF: I’ve actually always used full manual on my T3i. I just jumped straight in with both feet. I don’t like the restrictions the other modes have. I don’t use actions made by others. The majority of actions on the internet are too strong and leave a lot to be desired. I do, however, make my own. They can be fun sometimes. I make sure each adjustment layer stays separate because it’s just so much easier to handle.
WHITE BALANCE: I carry around a white paper and also use grass as a sub for a grey card when I forget to pack one. Sometimes, if the sky is really deep blue I’ll use that as a grey point as well. I wish there was a “zebra” function on the T3i (maybe there is one, but I’m not aware of it) as it would be easier to tell what is a true white in the image. I also notice the inconsistencies in tone in my images and am working on it.
FOCUS: There are only eight focus points on my camera, so I have a lot of issues with focusing. I end up having to reconstruct the scene or focus on the eye and recompose, which is an extreme hassle when using a tripod. I am, however saving up for a camera with better focus options, such as manually being able to pick which point to focus on whenever I want instead of having to go through the settings menu each time or use the annoyingly ignorant live-view square that has the tendency to focus on one of it’s corners instead of the center.
EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY: I’ve shot a few public events (read: unpaid observer) for parades, college games, and family parties. I have not posted any of these photos.
LIGHTS AND POSING: I haven’t done any paid shoots recently, which is for the best I guess. I’ve been practicing with a light kit with flashes and umbrellas and soft boxes. Also, I’ve gotten more friends to model so I can practice posing and helping people to pose. I just haven’t posted any of it.
I plan to become totally legit in January. I included my “earnings” on my taxes last year, I don’t have a problem with that, I just was unable to afford filing the paperwork in my state last year (LA is ridiculous with the crazy fees!) The amount I made kept gas in my car for an extra week.
I’ve also gone through and fixed the inconsistencies and you pointed out with my fb and site. There is absolutely no excuse for idiocy.
Thank you for being honest with me, IHF.November 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm #15346
Emileeself – I think it is very good that you are shooting in manual mode. It allows you to have full control over what you shoot. 9 times out of 10 I shoot in Manual unless there is that rare event or session where Av, Tv or P help out.
I also have a T3i or 600D, it can be a little cumbersome at times. Yes the 8 focus points kind of suck, my main camera has 61, so yes it is a big deal when switching to this. My main issue with the 8 points is that they seem to be too close together for my likes. Trust me, once you get the features down patent, when your ready to jump up to a nicer camera, like a 5DMk3, you’ll be in utter amazement at the control you will have over the many more features.
I would suggest, what ever camera you decide to upgrade to, try renting on 1st for a weekend. Just upgrading the camera won’t make you a better photographer, but it may give you a sense of confidence.
You mentioned your shooting scenario, what format do you shoot in RAW or JPG or both?
As for your prices, I don’t think I even looked at your pricing scheme, but if IHF pointed out that glaring oversight, then yes I would change them ASAP. My advice, see what other photogs around you are charging and see if their packing and session fees are similar, then start with that. Most don’t publish their prices, so it may be a little more work then you want.
If you are close to other photogs prices, you wouldn’t have to justify your prices when compared to others, as long as your final images meet or exceed the quality of theirs.
Good LuckNovember 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm #15356
I’ve been looking at the prices on BL, and it seems pretty doable.
I’m shooting in RAW. Sometimes, I’ll shoot in both JPG and RAW, but that’s if I have a large/fast enough memory card.
Currently, there aren’t that many photographers around me that charge more than I do. Most of them are bored housewives with p&s. In our area, though, there are many people that can’t afford to have portraits done for the prices that many professional photographers have, and the prices I’ve set (and fixed, thanks again) help people to do things they normally wouldn’t be to do.
I have a quick question about RAW and the Canon Utility. When I’m at work, I use an online RAW converter because the computer has DeepFreeze and dumps everything that’s installed each time it’s shut down. I’ve noticed that the online converter does a much better job at saving details than the Canon program. I can convert the image and then adjust exposure so much more without it becoming blown out. Am I using the program that came with my camera incorrectly? The site I’m using to convert is http://image.online-convert.com/November 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm #15361cameraclickerMember
I got here late, and had a look at only a couple of photos. I’m not as taken with the swamp as IHF, but that’s a personal thing. I saw this one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=414085422031300&set=a.414625621977280.1073741841.382840941822415&type=3&theater, and I think you should have metered on the flower since that is what you focused on and it looks blown out.
I have a T2i, which is almost the same as the T3i, there was not enough difference even to the T5i that I’m willing to upgrade. I don’t shoot many portraits from a tripod with it, but I think it’s a pretty good camera. The centre focus point is best by far, so it is the only one I use. I focus and recompose but I shoot hand held most of the time and my main tripods have ball heads. Focusing modes of a 5D Mk III take up many pages in the manual and were a pain to figure out, but it runs rings around a Rebel when focusing!
I saw in the discussion that you and Bill like to mostly use Manual mode. Here is a quick commercial for Aperture mode. If you are in M, and just centering the meter, you might as well be in Av instead. That’s what Av does and it saves finding the button to switch the control wheel between aperture control and shutter control, so it is faster. If on the other hand, you are shooting with studio strobes, then M is the better choice because the meter won’t know anything about the light that’s about to happen.
I use Digital Photo Professional on my notebook when I have to do a quick raw conversion. The rest of the time, I use Adobe Camera Raw that comes with CS5 because I like the noise control better. Now that I am more familiar with ACR, I also like how much editing you can do before dropping the file into Photoshop to finish it up. One thing DPP does very well is reading the camera settings and delivering the initial conversion to match camera settings. If you are having trouble with DPP, it may be worth looking at your camera’s settings to make sure they are suitable for what you are doing. I use DPP mostly to get what the camera would provide without much, if any, adjustment, so I have not seen any problems with it.
I tried http://image.online-convert.com/ with a file from my 5D Mk III, and got back a mess! Definitely not the solution for me, but if it works for you, that’s great. I see there is also an opportunity to download a number of programs from that site, but I did not try them.November 25, 2013 at 1:11 am #15366
It baffles me that the image from the online converter is so much easier to edit, if anything, it should be the opposite. If I use the Canon, it’s like the image has been re-scaled to something smaller and I can’t adjust it without it clipping the blacks or whites. With the online one, however, exposing more than 2 stops either way is no issue.November 25, 2013 at 2:31 am #15367
Just out of curiosity emilee, what are you converting the RAW file to?
If you shoot RAW + Large JPG, you are actually using up a little more buffer and making the camera write a few extra MB’s of data to your card. When you select RAW + whatever, the camera writes the RAW file, then quickly creates a smaller compressed file along with it. In your case about 20MB for the RAW and about 5 MB for a Large JPG. Easy way to tell, look at your memory card file when you import your photos. Your RAW files will be CR2 and your jpg’s will have jpg, of course.
There is no wrong way to save your files, but if it is for editing purposes, RAW is the way to go. RAW just has more data to work with, plain and simple, no matter what Ken Rockwell says, LOL. Unless of course you have no means of editing a RAW file, thus the need to convert, then that is a different story.
If you are converting for editing sake and have no means to edit a RAW file, I would suggest converting to DNG, if your application supports that. If not DNG, then TIFF. These are lossless, or close to lossless conversions, but not every app supports them.November 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm #15387
I’m converting from RAW to JPG.
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