Critique please

Started Jun 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
Mel Snyder
Mel Snyder Veteran Member • Posts: 4,088
Re: Critique please

It's great that you'll be getting some real portrait studio experience because your friend knows very little about posing. The first image is a nightmare for the girl on the left - her body, dress. pose and camera angle combine to make what is truly an image she will live to regret. Do you know the work of Diane Arbus? - your first image would fit neatly into her series mocking people out of touch with how the world sees them. But maybe that was the intent of your friend - to put down the subjects she had you shoot.

When doing portrait photography, the subjects - not the preconception of the art director or photographer - must dominate the session.

I'd suggest you get a few magazines targeting women and study the ads of Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, any of the youth-targeted cosmetic and fragrance companies, Swatch etc. Shooting people with low angle and short focal length lenses is rarely done because of precisely what you see - misshapen bodies, exaggerated hands, and - in the case of this shoot, a repetitive sameness. Your friend may have a different view of the human body, but shooting up people's nostrils hasn't been a look I've seen in serious work - ever. The four-person image is, in my opinion and likely that of anyone who'd hire you for serious work, ugly. The posing is a nightmare, compounded by the camera angle and inadequate focal length and background.

The shot with the couple works because there's enough body separation, and the young woman has her head tilted down.

Then there's the issue of just how big the images will be in the blog. Today, pros know to "shoot for mobile." Images that will be wrapped with words have to be clear, clean, and well-framed - otherwise the subjects are just a few pixels wide. The contrast must be adequate for looking at in room light on smartphones with less than maximum brightness. All of these fail the mobile test.

If your portrait studio training is good, you should soon learn posing and camera angles that people want to pay for - and in today's competitive environment where everyone with a DSLR or a mirrorless fancies themselves a photographer, making a living doing portraits means you have to be good at all the things missing in these images. There are lots of really good portrait people out there - I am blown away by the work I see on the site 500px. Go look at it, and get your education there. Don't look to a gearhead site like this for serious guidance.

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