first Birthday Pics - I really need your opinion

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by alexxela, May 14, 2010.

  1. I had a 45 minute time window to take some pictures in a birthday party.
    The baby is the daughter of very good friends, and I wanted to please them...
    Results:
    Father of the baby: Very happy
    Gramma: Extremely Happy
    Other Friends: Very Happy
    But wait...
    The Mother is.. Unhappy..
    especially fot the way she thinks she looks. Worst of all... she almost ignored the pictures...
    Need your sincere opinion.
    http://gioss.zenfolio.com/p745545477
    Thank you,
    Massimo
     
  2. Worst of all... she almost ignored the pictures...​
    I don't understand what that means? Anyway, in my sincere opinion, the images aren't very good. I really liked the landscape images, but the portraits not so much. I am not sure if this was a paid photo-shoot or something you did as a favor. If this was a paid photo-shoot, I would need to know the details of the contract. But I would either offer a re-shoot or a refund.


    In terms of a critique, I don't like the post-processing. At least not with all the images? Beyond that, look at image 1 versus image 11. The first has no catchlights in the eyes and relatively unflattering light. 11 has great catchlights and look at the difference that makes. I don't want to go beyond that.... your name is searchable via Google and mom could find this post!
     
  3. They look nice and well done. There are good and there are excellent pictures. Not all are excellent, but I think you did a very good job with this.
     
  4. I think the mom looks great! What exactly didn't she like? I'm assuming it must be a pose/expression/body thing...and if so, she looks great in all of 'em. I guess I'd learn what exactly she hates and offer another shoot, since they're such close friends.
     
  5. Need your sincere opinion.​
    From what point of view?
    Pose?
    Technical?
    Post Processing?
    Creative artistry?
    Kinda' depends on the client's expectations; yes?
    If this were for a corporate client; well..They're not too good.
    If they are simply candid snapshots; they're fine.
     
  6. I like them. I don't see the problem...?
     
  7. I noticed that on #6 the legs are chopped off--be careful of breaking this fundamental rule of portraits!
    Also, be wary of distracting backgrounds, such as the hand on the lower right in #17. Obsess about the background!
    I'm not sure what I think about the processing--it's a little affected. One should be careful to avoid slavishly imitating film from the past (it's a philosophical thing for me), something which, ironically, seems all the rage right now. There's something disingenuous about the ability to summon up an entire range of emotions of a decades-old photograph with one push of a button. I know many will disagree, but I see it being entirely overdone and derivative at present.
    Unfortunately, the desaturation of all the rest makes #15 scream "digital!!"
     
  8. I noticed that on #6 the legs are chopped off--be careful of breaking this fundamental rule of portraits!
    Also, be wary of distracting backgrounds, such as the hand on the lower right in #17. Obsess about the background!
    I'm not sure what I think about the processing--it's a little affected. One should be careful to avoid slavishly imitating film from the past (it's a philosophical thing for me), something which, ironically, seems all the rage right now. There's something disingenuous about the ability to summon up an entire range of emotions of a decades-old photograph with one push of a button. I know many will disagree, but I see it being entirely overdone and derivative at present.
    Unfortunately, the desaturation of all the rest makes #15 scream "digital!!"
     
  9. my sincere opinion is that you did a decent job with the images. Post processing would be the only thing really that i could say i would have done a bit different, but then again, maybe that is a look the clients were asking for or that you happen to like? So i can't really say. You have soft light in a lot of these, so that helps keep the images from looking harsh. Many look pretty clear in terms of the subjects and those done with a telephoto look decently blurred to make the subject stand out. Some images follow a "rule of thirds" guideline, others are in the middle. Heres my thoughts. Take the critique's here and learn from them. Take the 3 very happy members of the family and appreciate their satisfaction and build on that. Maybe find out what they like about them? What they would have seen differently? As far as the mother. I'd ask what she's looking for. Depending on a contract (if any) i'd say offer to re-do some of the poses or images she was in to obtain a look she was hoping for. Maybe its the way they are edited, could be a bunch of things really. Just try to find a way to build from it. NO use in getting down on yourself if she's simply unhappy with the way she looks in pictures...or something goofy like that, as you know people can be that way. And if there is something you can do, offer to help get her satisfied with the images, otherwise move on to the next shoot.
    Good Luck!
    Chris
     
  10. Massimo,
    These aren't bad. I also don't love the processing as it makes some of the photos of the baby in the grass too monotone for my taste). Ironically, I don't mind the family shots (esp. 5, 9, 10) although mom has a tendency to tilt her head too much (I would rather have her hold the baby a little closer and higher).
    Cheers,
    JP
     
  11. First of all, thank you all for your critiques..
    Secondly, let me underline that I was not paid for the job. I am not a professional and I just wanted to please my friends.
    I personally think that the pictures are good (beside the personal taste on the desaturation) particularly considering I had a 45 minute time limit and a difficult location.
    About your critiques: the majority of you did not like the post processing.. and I understand that.. but, Scott, more than from a "philosophic" point of view, just from an aesthetic one. The light was difficult and very harsh (it was about 1 pm), with a strong green dominant. The desaturation was a way to smooth the bad light. However, I have to say I personally like that effect and I sometimes use it even if the light is good.
    Carlos, Jaclyn, Teresa, Scott, Joel, thank for for your clear, direct inputs.
    John and Kevin, thank you both as well, but I would have liked to get a reason to explain your point of view.
    Massimo
     
  12. Hi Massimo,
    These are nice photos. I don't find the post processing distracting at all. It's very common in my area and requested.
    If you haven't met a person who hated the photo you shot of them, then you're lucky. If you shoot a lot, it's disheartening but you will meet someone who does. As stated, it may not be a reflection of your abilities it could all be a reflection of what the subject feels about how they look through a camera.
    If you're wondering about the leg rule mention earlier, it goes something like this. If you show the knees, you must show the feet. If you don't show the feet, don't show the knees. The feet "anchor" the subject to the ground if you are shooting low enough to show the knees in a full body portrait.
    - Anthony
     
  13. I would not be upset at those pictures. Post aside (which I did not dislike) I think you have a number of good images. I actualy like how the mother looks but some time people have something sifferent in mind and I guess that is the key point of most shuttings. Understand what the customer, or friends expect from you.
     
  14. My take on this is that most of the friends were looking at pictures of the baby - and the mother is dong what I have seen many women do which is look at how she looks as a judge of the picture. Maybe she is being more critical of her appearance than your photo? So, as Chris Cross said, you need to ask her what she does not like about them - as they are friends you should be able to find one-on-one time to discuss this and you could phrase it in terms of you wanting to improve your skills.
     
  15. Anthony, Alex, Mike,
    thank you for your comments.
    You guys are helping me to have the required confidence in my work without forgetting what needs to be improved in my pictures and in my techniques.
    That's exactly the kind of inputs and critics I need.
    Thank you
    Massimo
     
  16. John and Kevin, thank you both as well, but I would have liked to get a reason to explain your point of view.​
    Well, I gave you the 1 vs 11 explanation! I suppose I will look at the 4 shots with mom in them (post-processing aside):
    Image 1) unflattering light. Look at the difference with image 11. The eyes have no light. The top of mom's dress is blown.


    Image 9) Better exposure. Still a little hot, but better. But what happened to the top of dads head? If you frame that print, he will lose another 1/4 inch. What happened to their hands? Why are we missing fingers? In other words, the frame is just too tight.
    Image 10) still a bit hot on the exposure. How were you metering the light? Was the camera in manual and you controlled the exposure? Or AV and you dialed in EV comp? It looks like you wanted to shoot wide open regardless. In this shot, again, too tight of a frame. I have too much of the back of mom's head and nothing on the top. Mom looking at the baby leads your eye to the right of the frame where we cut off the child and the child's elbow. Almost one-quarter of the frame is mom's ear, and that DoF is a bit shallow on that. Again, if you put this in a frame, there goes the rest of mom's head and even more emphasis on the ear. Pulling back and moving slightly to the our right would have produced a much better shot. In regards to cutting off heads, I can recommend putting the entire frame on another background for printing so that if/when it's framed you don't lose any more.
    Image 11) This is my favorite of the bunch. I still don't like having joints cut off (mom's arm/elbow). And we are still over-exposed, no detail in the dress. All of this light yet I still don't have a good direction of light? Direction of light will give you depth, color, and texture.
    In regards to the light, sure, it may have been harsh but as a photographer, you need to work with what you have, not against what you are given. I actually think it's the lack of hard shadows that is somewhat disturbing. We know the light is hard... where are those hard shadows? And the best thing about hard light is the color!
    In any event, hey, this wasn't a professional shoot. When framed in that context and given the amount of work in post, mom ought to be thrilled. And I mean that. The funny thing is, it is usually the "clients" that pay the least that want the most!
     
  17. I think you did a nice job, paid or not. There are plenty of full time pro family portrait photographers that can't do what you did. I do think they would be stronger with standard color. 9 is my favorite. I think I see your reflector in #3. I can't really figure out the light. To me most of them look like overcast light, some with reflector fill. The only one that has sharp shadows that indicate sun is 9, but they are weak because you have strong fill from below.
    Anyway, the point is that whether someone likes a picture or not comes down to many personal factors, especially when that person is actually in the picture. The best you can do now is to ask and try to find out why. You can also ask before the shoot if there is anything in particular they don't like about themselves, or anything particular they would like you to watch out for. But IMO she looks great, except maybe the first one where you need some fill.
     
  18. These shots are fine. If I were to offer two suggestions, I thought from the first several that they were B&W -- if you're going to desaturate I would just go all the way B&W since they look great that way. As for the mother, she looks fine, very attractive actually. Some people simply aren't happy with the way they look, but unless she's a professional fashion model and you took her down to just being an attractive mom, she's got nothing to complain about. I've shot professionally and would have no problem charging for these, and I've seen parents pay for far worse pictures.
     
  19. John, Rob and Craig,
    thank you all for you answers and critiques. I really appreciate your opinions...
    Your points of view on the pictures will help me to improve skills and techniques, particularly regarding the use of the reflector, the lighting, the composition and the post-processing.
    John, I have to say that this time your critique was definitely detailed (!!). Thank you again
    Massimo
     
  20. I was trying to keep it light! To get better fast, join your local chapter of PPA and enter images for print competitions/critiques. Good Luck!
     
  21. I think this is a mom who is high maintenance. I think you need validation from your work. Nothing is wrong with mom, she's self conscious about something. Not sure what. Nothing is wrong with you, just missed on a couple of shots.
    You didn't do a bad job, just expectations weren't met with mom, evidently. So, how do you fix that?
    Talk to your next client and just ask what they want. Got into a similar situation with a senior portrait not too long ago. Mom never said what she wanted. Picked a location, etc. Shot, had the proofs for 2 weeks ordered prints and delivered pics and then said, "I'm not happy." It taught me to get a contract and ASK till I'm blue in the face about what the client wants.
    Technically, you may have broken some rules, mom is hacked about something else more than likely, but if most people are happy and one isn't, it's probably not you.
     
  22. No worries my friend, you did a recent job here and the pp is not bad IMO
    Most of the women i know never like themselves even if you're a master in PP
     

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