Ready for some REAL critique

Discussion in 'Website Creation' started by denisewells, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. First off, Hello! I just joined this forum, but have observed and definitely valued the feedback this community shares for some time now. I figured it was best for me to dive in head first and start my first post with a request for critique of my portfolio by actual photographers. Positive comments from friends and co-workers are always nice to hear, but it does little in helping me determine my technical strengths and weaknesses, and where I need to improve.

    A little background: I’m a full-time graphic designer who’s been enjoying branching out on my second love (lifestyle and portrait photography) for the past year. Would love to eventually do this full-time, but have concerns whether or not I have what it takes to walk away from my corporate 9-5. My goal is to give myself another year of shooting on the weekends, before deciding whether I can make a living at this. Marketing my work is presently my biggest challenge. Some of my work was fully paid, while other shoots were done on discount for friends or completely free.

    Please feel free to critique any part of my portfolio (images, content, etc.) I will say I’m a little nervous as this is my first time coming out on a public forum and sharing my work, but any feedback or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Denise, if I were to comment on anything, it might be your pricing. Giving 10 high res finals on a CD and doing a 1-2 hour session for $75 will assure you of not being able to ever leave the 9-5 job. I don't think many are going to buy prints on the back end and so you are limiting your income severely here. My experience with friends and family and senior portraits, for instance, is that the sitting fee is low (more like $150-200), but the net sale is generally between $750-1000. I have only done it for some friends and priced it according to local competition at the time--5 years ago--and my 3 such sales were all close to the $1000 mark.
    Just a note about your wording, on the "no deposit" thing, it sounds like you are also not going to charge for the sitting at all. If you really want to work without a deposit, just say that except for weddings, there is no deposit required on your services to hold a booking. You may want to watch this over time to see how it works for you. With friends and family, it isn't an issue, but without getting something to hold your time, people may not respect it either.
    Your images vary in quality a bit with some of the more static type pulling down the rest. They are OK but should be eliminated as you get better images and a larger variety of people to show.
  3. John, thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate your honesty. My intention is to double the charge after I have a solid portfolio, but doing it now may be the better move. I guess I was just afraid I wouldn't have anyone interested in working with a photographer who wasn't "established" yet.
    I will definitely try rewording the "no deposit" to apply to portraits only or just eliminate weddings altogether since I really don't have a strong interest in going that direction yet.
    Would you explain what you mean by "static" as far as the images are concerned? Are you referring to composition, lighting, focus, or just dull and lifeless?
  4. You might keep your sitting price firm for now, but don't give away digital files--except very small ones, saved as Jpegs at a lower quality setting--just good enough for proofing or find another way to show proofs. Then, get price sheets from competition that is actually running a business and not just working on weekends. Find out what the pro's are charging for prints (probably more than you think!) This way, you balance being new to it all, but also being professional and charging the going rate. You and your friends can just call around to various photographers with requests for information on the things you want to do--Portraits, Seniors, etc. Sample the competition--they all do it as well!
    I think the primary person that hit me as being static was the younger male with the argyle sweater vest and later blue polo shirt. He wasn't giving you much and I think maybe a couple of those might be ok--football and maybe the one standing with the blue shirt (didn't like it at first, but he shows a little life in it actually). The other one that hit me for a different reason, although I like the guy's demeanor in the shot, is the couple shot of the guy with the green sweater vest but the woman looks like she is blinking. I think the guys stiffness is sort of funny and would be endearing to probably a lot of women although it is a bit awkward (can you clone open eyes onto the woman--I think you will find that a handy ability as you move forward with this!)
    Just a thought, I think I read you have a design background? What if you gave out proofs in a book form, like maybe one of the small Blurb books (on premium paper)? I think they cost maybe $15 plus shipping, but they can't be copied as they have the screen that will moire on a scanner and if you make a nice cover, you could offer it for sale for maybe 3 or 4 times your cost. I don't know how fast they turn things around, but I did something like this, pre-Blurb, when I did the last couple of Senior Portrait sessions. I sold the books, with 40 proofs in them, for $150 each. I already had the proofs printed so they could make their choices and just paid $20 bucks to have the images hard bound into a book--not a bad profit margin and I didn't have to do any of the work. I would even do it for couple sittings if I shot retail sorts of things.
    Anyway, good luck.
  5. John,
    Again, thanks so much for the feedback. It was very helpful. I'm taking all your points into consideration. And I get what you mean by "static". I'd never even heard about the Blurb books until now. I really like the idea. Definitely something I can hopefully work to my advantage.
    Much appreciated!
  6. i'm going to make it a little easier for folks to go out and hit this website by putting the
    http address to it right here
    now folks just need to click this link to go to it..
    makes it easier..
  7. Hi Denise. I went out and took a look at your website. Pretty cool! It came up just fine on my Gateway laptop (Windows Xp Pro SP3 & all the Updates, Internet Explorer 8). The only thing i would suggest is that you consider scanning in a copy of your business card, and putting that scan image somewhere on your Contacts page. The way it is right now, they can only email you. Anyway, just a thought............
  8. Yes, it does look bare with only the contact form. Adding the business card would certainly help with the lack of content on that page.
    Thank you, Alan (for the hyperlink, too!)
  10. Oops. The link I posted should be:
  11. Denise,
    Very clean website, I love the design aspect of the website. One comment I do have is the navigation is fairly difficult to use. The idea is great, but functionality needs some tweaking.
    Example: When I click galleries, the gallery list disappears. Same goes for "Information" .. You should have the menu stay popped out when they are visiting that section.
    You should show more thumbnails within the selection, instead of 5, maybe use 7-10... fill up the whitespace that is there... another option is to make the thumbnails larger. Whitespace is great... but in my personal opinion you have too much under the thumbnails.
    Other than that, great work!
    Steven P.
  12. Thanks for your input, Steven.
    Some of the points made about the thumbnail size and navigation have to do with the particular template I'm using. I can see how the disappearing navigation can be frustrating to a perspective client. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Presently working on weeding out my better images from the "just so-so" ones. Will be updating with some of my most recent work soon, as well as considering a more visually solid template.
    Again, you've been very helpful!
  13. Denise,
    Your website needs work. Shoot me an email if you want what I have to say.

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