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I’m concerned if she is a “pro” that she hasn’t got a backup body
Well, Bradford isn’t exactly the nicest place on earth, in fact I’m pretty sure it isn’t far off the bottom.
As for the competition, that is pretty bad. At first I thought it was some god awful compression going on but from looking at some other pictures there they have managed to catch other subjects in focus. The AF on the camera seems to be boob-seeking as it always seems to be on the breasts. It is just odd how they have managed to get that many shots blurry on the website, not to mention all those overexposure disasters. I mean, they aren’t awful like many of the fauxtogs on here but it sure doesn’t look good from their website
I wonder what they charge for it? The set up seems fairly professional at least with the kids and they appear to have decent lighting with at least two lights which blows lots of fauxs out of the water but the use of it is pretty sub par.
Not to mention that you will be worried the whole day about how the pictures are going to turn out.
Pissing off the other half is fine if you are right, especially on something important. Let’s put it this way, would you go to a doctor that you have concerns about his professionalism and you have habits you don’t like personally? I wouldn’t.
Ten years down the line the OH will have forgotten that you didn’t want to go with Sally but will look in the wedding album and say “Wow, these are amazing pictures of a special day!”
Right, looking at your pictures and EXIF I’m guessing you are a fairly new photographer with a D7000 and the 18-105 lens. Let me know if that is wrong. I’m going to be brutally honest but not mean because I do not believe you should be charging people for what you are doing.
You have some decent shots in there, some mediocre and some bad to outright disasters. The toy car on the beach is a nice concept but framing is a bit suboptimal. None of your shots seem to be using the rule of thirds. It would be a good place to start which would probably have made the car/beach shot a bit more appealing as it would do with many of your portraits. Look at a tv interview, where is the subject located? Nearly always a third of the frame at a slight angle so they seem to be looking towards the empty space in the frame. It is a very good starting place to go from when you are learning about portraits. It won’t be the panacea of portraits but it will help them look professional.
Next point, let us use this shot: http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Street-Scenes/Virginia-beach/28750696_smrqRL#!i=2443924376&k=4S4wFQK
First off, it is blurry because of a long shutter speed (1/4s) due to a low ISO and focus being on her collar rather than her eyes. Never include blurry/out of focus shots in your portfolio. Next problem is that you have cut off the top of her head, don’t do it on portraits where you include the upper body. If it is a close portrait like in worst case scenario’s avatar it works but only if you chop off a bit so it looks like you meant to. Next problem is that you are standing above your subject, always be on the same level unless you are consciously using the angle for some reason. It will make it look like she is a fully grown adult rather than a minion. This will also make for a more interesting background. Also see next point.
You have poor depth of field control, probably due to the rather unattractive max aperture of the lens you are using. The backround in the portrait is ever so slightly blurry but you can’t call it out of focus so it does nothing to draw the focus to your subject. Lots of shots are like this, most of the photos of the couple getting married would very much benefit from not having the background in focus because it looks ugly. Since there is no separation all the background objects can clearly be seen which brings me onto the next point.
The venue for the wedding wasn’t particularly glamorous and if the organisers aren’t doing anything to make it look better you need to do some damage control yourself. For example, in this picture http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Events/small-wedding/28942701_ZT9kGF#!i=2460168001&k=7rCJHXM you have that nasty green garden hose in the back ground which looks awful. Get rid of it or at least tone it down so you aren’t drawn to it straight away.
Next point would be damage control of your portfolio. You shouldn’t include shots like the empty chairs with a rusty shed, a rusty plumbers van, a random bit of fence and a barrel in the background. It looks bad, same with the nasty sandwiches in a big aluminium tub. If you want to take photos of food put it nicely on a plate and take a photo from an angle as if you were just about to tuck into it.
Next major problem is lighting, this photo http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Events/small-wedding/28942701_ZT9kGF#!i=2460168001&k=7rCJHXM the bride and father (?) are very dark in the face. You relly need to have a flash ready to lighten those things up, even if it is a bright and sunny day. It could have been a pretty good shot if you had lit them a bit and sorted out a few other problems. These would be the hose like I wrote before but also the disembodied arm on the right of the frame, the girl in blue is chopped in half and again the background is sharp suggesting you are using a small aperture. You need to be shooting aperture priority or manual at a wedding to get the best results.
The post processing are letting you down a bit, are you shooting RAW or JPG? If you aren’t shooting raw you need to start now to be able to sort out problems afterwards. Some shots are lacking contrast http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Events/small-wedding/28942701_ZT9kGF#!i=2460168118&k=JSJr2m6 and some have had too much contrast (and massively too much saturation) http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Events/small-wedding/28942701_ZT9kGF#!i=2460168173&k=zfH6nPP . I like this shot of the girl with the teddy http://serene-moments.smugmug.com/Street-Scenes/Virginia-beach/28750696_smrqRL#!i=2440948658&k=X2vWPFz but unfortunately it is completely ruined by post processing. The highlights are completely blown out and contrast seems too much though that could as a result of highlight being blown out. White balance is mostly good however there is the odd shot where it is out, it needs to be sorted before putting it on your portfolio.
Selective colouring and obvious fake blur, please don’t do it, it looks awful.
The photos badly need to have a consistent look to make it look professional. This would be all the parameters like white balance being correct, all photos having similar saturations etc. I personally do not like seeing black and white shots next to colour ones, it is jarring. Random collections of photos are rarely good either, group them into categories such as street, weddings, baby shower, etc to make it look more professional. Speaking of professional, the website does not look good, it looks an awful lot like the 90’s on a dial up modem. It isn’t hard to get a nice clean looking website with a modern look
You are lacking in technique, both taking and post processing your photos, but also in equipment. You need at least one lens with a more attractive aperture, for a crop camera like the D7000 I would go for a 35mm such as http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/606792-USA/Nikon_2183_AF_S_Nikkor_35mm_f_1_8G.html for $200. With a f1.8 aperture you will get diffuse background blur which will make your photos pop. Next item you badly need is an external flash, Nikon again make a nice one http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734997-USA/Nikon_4808_SB_700_Speedlight_Shoe_Mount.html $325 which is vital to have for all the challenging light situations. You should really also acquire a light stand, soft box and umbrella or softbox for your posed shots. Those things will be another $100 or so, if you aren’t familiar with the things then have a look at strobist.com. These two things for about $500 will allow you to expand the options you have massively. If you want another lens such as the 85mm nikon will make a very good portrait lens for flattering compression of the face http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/838798-REG/Nikon_2201_AF_S_NIKKOR_85mm_f_1_8G.html . If the $325 for a flash is a bit rich a yongnou 565ex off ebay will be a good option for learning but probably not something you want to rely on as your only flash professionally. A yongnou yn-460II will make a good off camera flash and with a pair of radio triggers (rf-603) it will be less than $100 for both and could live in your umbrella for posed shots.
Until you have sorted these problems out it is not fair to charge your clients, not to yourself and not to real professional photographers not to mention that you will get a nasty shock when the IRS starts getting interested in your business or you end up in court following a botched wedding shoot. Keep shooting however, you’ve made many rookie mistakes and it it blatantly obvious in your portfolio but with more practice but more importantly some kind of tuition, be it theoretical out of a book or online or on a photography course you can make more of it.
I would say the main difference is how it is coloured. Most of the selective colour atrocities that are on the front page are done really sloppily with a blob of colour and the rest grey. Kim Anderson however selectively colours objects rather than blobs but also importantly like someone else said has less colour for the rest making sure the rest of the photo looks muted rather then grey. If used properly it is a little bit like bokeh, it makes your eyes drawn to a certain part of the photo but if used badly it’ll ruin the shot, just like bad bokeh
I really like your photos, they have a lot of whatever it is that makes photos work. I can certainly see a market for them like you are noticing. Ever been to a doctor’s waiting room or the waiting room of any larger companies? Pictures like that are what cover the walls because they are a) pretty b) colourful c) not distracting. Trust me, I’ve seen many a waiting room in hospitals and in clinics (though not as a patient)
While they all are very nice they are rather limited in scope and I can imagine it’d be fairly hard to make a living off just images like that. The problem is if you move away from a site like red bubble is that you probably won’t get the same traffic. There’s probably thousands of people out there who’d happily buy your images at triple the prices they are charging there but they will never find you. If you however can get your images up at a local gallery things might be able to go in a different direction. It’s all about options and marketing really. Have you contacted any galleries to display your work?
I think most of your photos from 2013 are good but I have a few nit picks. Biggest one are the underexposed faces in a fair few photos which is a shame. I also agree with Thom that you need to be more selective about the photos you put on facebook. I would also consider removing or reediting a some of the older photos as they are suffering from things like over smoothing of skin, selective colouring, random photoshop filters, very orange skin tones (the maranda shoot in particular), snapshotiness that doesn’t belong a business page. The way the photos come up on the fb page are also rather haphazard. There is no consistency in the style which is a little jarring (the photos aren’t bad but they don’t go together) and looking further back there is an ad for a child care centre next to a photo of a scandily clad woman. Many of the older photos are nowhere near as well done as the stuff you are doing now and there are so many photos a customer looking on the webpage would be overwhelmed if they are using the fb page as a portfolio. Most of the 2012 photos seem like they should be on your private fb and not the business one.
Graffiti can make a great backdrop but I would prefer if it wasn’t in focus for a lot of those shots as it is distracting.