Yes - they're aweful - I agree with him!
No - they're just fine - what on earth is he talking about?
Cute kids, nice background, nice lighting. Their enthusiasm is being shown pretty well. The shots look good to me. I guess the guy wanted some artificial poses, which would, I believe, have done injustice to their enthusiasm.
The questions are not quite correctly.I see a small contradiction between the "depressing"(I didn't find rapidly another word) background and the kids.But they are far to be very...very poor.
I like the sharp focus especially of the eyes on all three. Skin colours are very good but particularly good in the middle one. My only negative comment would be a personal one and that is for me the background reminds me of school photos (probably won't for anyone else unless they went to school in my area) so I might prefer a plain white/cream backdrop at a greater distance with maybe a few full body shots thrown in.
Bottom line - if I was the client I'd be very happy with them and I think they show great technical ability of the photographer, whoever made the "substandard" comment was talking out of their behind. Ignore them and move on, there's always someone who'll throw in a stupid criticism and I think usually it says more about them than anything else.
Substandard they are not.
Not my thing as I haven't the ability to produce such images. The boy in the third image looks a bit uncomfortable at being photographed, but since I don't know him or what sort of person he is, I have no basis on which to substantiate that opinion.
I agree that the background is reminicient (a bit) of school/university graduation photos. But since they are so successful, then, hey ho, go with the winning formula. That's what family members like. Technically, they are up to Southern standards. And from what I've seen, that's good enough to go with.
Personally, I hate taking formal portraits. They are not my thing. I would not be able to take this type of shot and get the empathy with the subjects that you have. I read an earlier comment that the young man looks bit uncomfortable. Oddly enough I read that as being natural and enhanced the shot for me. Without knowing him I'd guess his family and friends wuold connect with this 'visible' aspect of his personality.
Technically I have no comment to make and certainly not one that would be as violently critical as the person who gave you the initial feedback.
Anyone who can be so emphatically negative is not in my opinion expressing an analytical opinion, rather they are expressing personal and unsupportable prejudices .
HI Peter / Donald,
Thanks for you comments.
re: The backdrop ...
I have 11 backdrops -- all bar one are 3m wide. Unfortunately I had to shoot these in a "makeshift studio" only 3.8m wide, and by the time you take the extra distance from the centres of the stands to the wall into account, I just couldn't swing it ... so I had to stick with a shorter 1.6m one (my "only one" that would fit).
With regards to expressions - my style is to get them laughing and then "freeze frame" them with the strobes. Although it's a bit of a spagetti-against-a-wall approach, I generally get good results, especially with those (like me) who can't reproduce a nice smile "on demand" like the movie stars & top models can - so with shots like this you can end up with something that's a little different to how an "isolated" smile might look. Personally, I liked his expression in this one, but his mum choose a different shot (but ran with the two on the left), although the shot she chose wasn't (to my eye) a lot different.
They say that you should never work with kids or animals - but I disagree; animals are fine! Seriously, it can be a bit of a fine line when the kids don't want to co-operate or are a bit "out of their comfort zone" - if positive encouragement doesn't do the trick then anything "more authoritive" from the parents generally results in "if looks could kill" type expressions or (even worse) if they cry then you have puffy cheeks etc and "game over". On this occasion we had the girl in the middle (whom I'd photographed before) having a blast (that one is a natural model) - the one on the left was a little shy to start with, but ended up enjoying the process, whilst the chap on the right was a little more reluctant but ended up having a good time all the same, although having said that, all kids tend to have only a limited attention span for this kind of thing, and seem to quickly get bored with it.
Just to give you more of a "feel" for the atmosphere, here's a couple of shots with only white balancing and down-sampling (NO other adjustments).
Last edited by Colin Southern; 15th January 2010 at 10:34 PM.
Thanks for your comments. To be honest, this kind of shoot is a relatively new direction for me - I pretty much just play each shoot by ear - get them laughing and doing "the model thing" - and see what happens, with only minimal direction. The "get em laughing / freeze the frame" technique is something I've done for a while now, and it always seems to work out OK.
The images were small so it was hard to judge quality. It's hard to determine if these photos were meant to be formal portraits, especially with the wardrobe of figure three. If these are informal portraits then the background could have been one that reflects the posers personality such as a beach scene or a blackboard filled with equations. The images lack your trademark border so I guess if the person who criticized these images is familiar with your work, he or she probably expected more impact.
If it helps, I've "put my money where my mouth is" and uploaded a full resolution JPEG (15MB), although the original commentor had only seen uncropped 6 x 4's (and yes, the fact that the images were un-processed and uncropped was emphasised several times). Just to give you a bit of background, the customer made an initial select of around 65 images ... to speed things up (this was just a "favour" shoot for a friend of the family) I had the 65 or so images printed onto 6 x 4's so that the customer could take them away - decide on crops etc - and pick the 4 that she wanted for 10 x 10" sepia prints, thus saving me several hours of sorting through them all with her. The customer was over the moon with the finished work (quote: Thank you ... thank you ... they're wonderful ... they're wonderful ... they're more than wonderful - they are fantastic!" End quote).
The criticism came from an associate who printed the images in a local print shop and who is also a wedding/portrait photographer.
Customer chose the attire and (space issues aside) I stuck with the single background because the 4 images needed to look consistent (they were replacing photos in existing frames).
PS: the full res version in the link was one removed from the final version (I cleaned up some eye work in the middle shot, and fixed the sunburn on the chap on the right-hand image in the final version).
And no I will not post the image on this site.
Colin, may be the customer expected you to retouch the blemishes on their skin?
I think your printer/wedding 'tog' (ex)friend must have had a bad day; it sounds uncharacteristic for someone that knows you. Possibly (unknown to you) a bad experience with the family in the photos even.
Looking at the large jpg, I don't see anything wrong that warrants the view expressed, although for me, the quadruple catch lights look a bit odd.
I wouldn't worry too much, although it is easy for me to say - if someone had said that about mine, I'd no doubt be here doing what you're doing.
I'd put it behind you and move on, possibly to another print shop
This is,probably,not the proper place for such a reply because the shots You posted are not Your characteristic images but I take upon me the risk to upset You and Your fans because Your
answer and our friends answers(I like to say "friends"to the forum members because we have at least one common point-the love for images-)make me to say what I will say.
Below there is a portrait which has not a hidden "informal"characteristic(In my opinion all
portraits have this feature).It tell us about:
1.this man is into an office;
2.he is not a high empoyee because he is wearing a not expansive pullover and has a cheap bag;
3.he is a man between 40 and 50 years old(may be a little more) who works into an office;
4.he is a slanderer or agreat talker (the papers and the movement of the hands: he "spreads");
5.his coloured pencils could talk about the need of order and quietness of this restless man;
6.the angle tells us that he is an egocentric one.
Last edited by Radu Dinu Cordeanu; 16th January 2010 at 11:34 AM.
Opposed to him You will see a man(a monk) who is fixed in his thoughts(see the tree and the hand).His thought are not baddly(the color of background and the "enlightment"of his face tell
us about that).
Many of us will ask about the link between those things and a child shot.There is no link,of course. Our home places and our proper time(hour) make us to have an exchange of thoughts and not antagonistic interests.So take that,please,as a discussion between friends about portraiture.I am amateur only,having no money from photography.
Last edited by Radu Dinu Cordeanu; 17th January 2010 at 08:20 AM.