Thursday, November 18, 2010

Portfolio Review & Changes | davem photography

I mentioned in a previous post that I was able to get my portfolio critiqued by Zack Arias. After a couple weeks I was able to sit down and actually go through my site and make some changes.

I was encouraged by Zack's comments and it gave me confidence in my work. It's a learning experience and maybe this will help another photographer as well.  I'll go through the images and do my best to paraphrase Zack's response after the jump.

First of all I've got to thank Zack for his feedback and being so open with the photographic community. Zack invited the Atlanta photography community to his studio with special guest Joe McNally.  As much as I admire and respect Joe McNally, my mission this evening was to get my portfolio critiqued. As soon as I got to the studio, there was already a large gathering. After a few minutes, I got to see Zack and we got to catch up. It's been several months since I've seen Zack and actually missed him when I stopped by the studio during the summer. I told Zack what I've been working on and if he would take a moment to give me some feedback.

I've been focusing on doing more athletic type of editorial shooting and this has been my personal project this year, so that's where we started.

I circled the area as a way to insure readers knew what area was being discussed without any confusion. Although this image looks good. Zack pointed out the head needs to be in a clean space. Something I knew and thought was okay in this image, but upon further clarification, it became obvious that it needed to go. For the most part, the head is in a clean spot, until you get to the neck. The dark hair and skin make it difficult for there to be any separation from the background. I could go into Photoshop and clone out the dark trees, but I had plenty of other shots from this shoot that I could use. At some point, I might go back and fix it, but I didn't want to delay updating my portfolio.

Zack did say that the image above was "THE" shot from the day's shoot. He liked the composition and I could tell by his reaction. Funny thing is that when I scouted this location, I didn't really think there was a great image at this particular spot. I tried anyway and once I had the model and light in place, I liked the result. So you never know. It's always good to experiment and take a risk. I almost skipped this setup and could've missed this great shot.

This next shot was a favorite for several reasons. I love the lighting and it's a self portrait (like most people, I don't like seeing photos of myself, this was one that I kind of liked) that came about as I was experimenting with lighting and concept.

Although nothing technically wrong with this shot. Zack mentioned that a similar shot had been done by another well known photographer. I'm not familiar with the photographer or his work. Zack was referring to the reflective swim goggles blown out to white. I was actually inspired by another photo by Joel Grimes. So why take it out? Well, if it's too similar, then I may come across as someone copying another photographer's work or worse, not being creative enough to come up with my own ideas. That's my take on it, not Zack's. He only cautioned me using it in my portfolio.

Luckily I was doing another shoot a few day's later and had a chance to create a new image.

I shot the blown out reflective googles again and shot several other shots that were not blown out. Last night I replaced it with a wider/medium length shot with the googles blown out hoping that it would be different enough. This morning when I woke up, I looked at it again and I didn't like it. I felt like I had already created that image, why put up another similar image. So I switched it out to the one above.

That took care of the athletic side of my portfolio. Then we moved onto other portrait work.

Once again, head in a clean spot. From now on, I will always hear Zack's voice in my head and make sure that there is some separation from the background.

On the surface it looks like a good shot, at least technically.  If I had positioned the model on the opposite side of the frame, this shot would work. The dark hair over the silhouetted trees, doesn't work. Maybe if I had a hair light, it would help. Something I'll definitely consider doing on future shots.

For comparison, here's a similar shot that Zack said works better than the previous.

Because the subject has blonde hair, there is definitely more separation from the background. The soft focus on the background also contributes to a better image. However, she should still be positioned in a better location.

This next photo is of a friend and she was gracious to volunteer when I first purchased my 70-200 ƒ/2.8.

I love the blue sky and her head is clearly in a clean spot. The problem is the angle that I'm shooting and what it's doing to her neck. There's a little bit of definition along the neck, but not enough. Due to the lighting and my angle, it looks like the neck and chin run together. I should have placed my light higher, creating a shadow under the chin and clearly defining the neck and chin.

Below is the version I replaced it with.

A much better choice. In this instance the light was placed to the right and high. There's a slight shadow that helps define the jaw line and chin.

That's it. Those were the only images that stuck out. I know my portfolio is much better because of Zack's feedback. There is a lot more I need to learn, but I've got the confidence right now to take the next step. Once I know what that next step is, I'll move forward and post it here. What I do know is that, my portfolio is solid enough that it shouldn't hold me back.

Hope you learned as much as I did from this post. Would love your feedback and comments. Check out the updated site when you get a chance and let me know what you think.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.


aubry c said...

Great post Dave.....and yes, I did learn a couple of things! :-) Great images! In the last two, the girl looks completely different with the image you replaced it with; she looks 30 pounds lighter! Great swap...

Steve Skelton said...

Head in a clean spot! Head in a clean spot! Head in a clean spot! Always in the back of my mind as well. Good stuff, Dave, as always.