Today for the first time Ive been highly criticised :)

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by bader_alwazeer, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Dear all,
    I am a photographer in a very small country called Bahrain, its in the meddle east.
    I had a meeting today with a British Fashion stylist (used to be) now a fashion teacher for small kids "for some reason"
    Ill just get straight into the point :p, she looked at my photos and she said " I didn't like them, I didn't like any of them" straight forward to my face.
    Her heavy straight forward criticism let me think again about my career and my future.
    I do respect her and anyone else who thinks my photography sucks.
    But still I want more honest opinions here from professionals.
    is there something I am doing wrong that I need to re-look at?
    http://500px.com/BaderAlwazeer/sets/fashion
    Thanks all and I appreciate your responses
     
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Other than "not liking them," did she have anything else to say? Because, from a teacher, that's not a very helpful or useful response.
     
  3. She said things like:
    1- The photo doesn't have story behind it
    2- The framing is not professional
    3- The photos is not telling you something ...etc
     
  4. You must have caught her on a bad day. Did you ask what or why she "didn't like them"? You need an answer.
    Did you review her portfolio or examples of her work before the meeting?
    Overall, the work is fine - your approach is definitive and might not be appreciated by someone with a preconceived notion of what they need. Other than a little over-retouched plastic skin, the work is just fine.
    If I were you, I'd stick to my guns and continue just as you have - I have to really question the source of the criticism - I think she had something specific in mind that your work didn't provide.
    One of the risks of brave images like yours is it's risky - You might want to expand your lighting to include different lighting examples of similar poses and improve the marketability of the work. Broader appeal without sacrificing your integrity.
     
  5. There it is, you gave her fashion and she was looking for a more editorial approach. Perhaps you didn't do your homework before the meeting. If she has no portfolio to review then ask questions - now (based upon this experience) you know what questions to ask in preparation for a visit.
    Get busy and shoot some editorial work in your book.
     
  6. Gary, Thank you. I believe this is what she was looking for an editorial photos.
    but its a shame if a fashion stylist dont know if she is looking for Fashion photography or Editorial photography.
     
  7. I have to agree. Very well done work.
    Although not all are to my taste they
    all look quite good. She was either
    having a bad day or was after
    something different. She could done a
    better job in her 'critique.'

    Rick H.
     
  8. Bader,
    There is nothing standout bad in your portfolio but at the same time, nothing that sets you apart from other fashion photographers. So I would class your work as perfectly fitting with everything else that is going on within fashion photography.
    By the way, I am not a fashion photographer but I work in fashion and have a small say in an inhouse fashion store magazine. I am not sure if my background qualifies me to critique your work, so what I say is very subjective.
     
  9. Starvy would be the critique i'd listen to. define yourself.
    remember that a lot of times the people 'teaching' are not always in the best position to do so.
     
  10. Well from what we have seen of your work (well within the standard for its type) I would say:
    Those that can, do
    Those that can't, teach
    I wouldn't loose any sleep over her comments as there would seem to be nothing in the criticism of any value.
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Those that can't, teach​

    This is the easy way out. It's also rude and insulting. Plenty of great photographers teach because they can make money teaching photography while it's very difficult to make a living off great fine art prints. Some of the greatest writers become teachers because great writing doesn't pay any more than great photography does. And plenty of people talented in other fields become teachers because they believe in young people, they believe in the future and they believe that people can learn.

    Those that don't believe these things make pointless statements.
     
  12. But it was her responsibility to teach and she didn't. She was just rude.
    I think your pictures are fine and agree that they are pretty typical for the fashion industry these days. If she is the teacher and is looking for a photographer to assist her then it is her responsibility to act as the director of the shoots. I find here whole approach very suspicious. I would forget her and move on.
     
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    But it was her responsibility to teach and she didn't. She was just rude.​

    It was not her responsibility. He said she teaches children and he is obviously not a child, so this was outside the context of a teaching situation. Direct criticism is just that. If it's what she felt, it's what she felt. With the limited context given, her response was obviously a personal critique.

    I've had those. And on one occasion, a very mixed (your photos are great but you're not going to succeed at what you're trying to do, photographically) critique from a famous photographer was life changing. It took me a couple weeks of thinking to realize that I was on a path that wasn't going to do what I wanted. And I changed what I was trying to do, and I think I've been a lot more successful. Sometimes, the most blunt critiques are the most useful, but it does depend on where the person is coming from.
     
  14. It was not her responsibility. He said she teaches children and he is obviously not a child, so this was outside the context of a teaching situation. Direct criticism is just that. If it's what she felt, it's what she felt. With the limited context given, her response was obviously a personal critique.​
    This is how I read it too. I always feel responsible for understanding critique (negative or positive) directed toward my photos, because in the end, it could help me better see (and photograph better). At worst, I'd only waste a bit of time. Even then, gaining another POV is learning, even if I don't happen to agree with...
     
  15. <<<Those that can, do
    Those that can't, teach>>>
    No.
    Just a silly cliché.
     
  16. I suppose is an absolute sense she has no responsibility to be helpful. That is, however, the kind and professional thing to do. It is sad that so many of us are forgetting the power of our words.
    And on one occasion, a very mixed (your photos are great but you're not going to succeed at what you're trying to do, photographically) critique from a famous photographer was life changing.​
    So you lucked out. Another person might have been crushed. I see plenty of photographers who I believe are not where they need to be to succeed professionally. I stop short of telling them that they are destined to failure. Two reasons. The first is that I do not have such hubris that I believe I am the be-all and end-all when it comes to photography and the second is that I have seen determination count for a lot when it comes to success.
    The fact is that while someone may not have the technical skill right now they can get better. Much better. I believe in talent certainly but a lack of technical skill and training can mask a very talented eye. So I am going to do something different that this lady chose to do. I am going to be kind, considerate and supportive. I will call the proverbial spade a spade when it is necessary. I do it all of the time with regard to equipment and business decisions but when it comes to critiquing someone's work I am going to not tell them what I like unless I tell them why I like it and I am not going to tell them that I don't like something without telling them how I think it can be improved.
    And one last note. There is a vast difference between being a talented photographer and being a commercial success at photography. There are plenty of people (myself among them I believe) who though not particularly talented but fairly well trained, make money at photography. Our OP here might want to ask himself if he has the sales skills to sell his services. His photography appears to be good enough but he still has to sell it.
     
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “I had a meeting today with . . . "​
    1. What was YOUR PURPOSE for the meeting with the ‘British Fashion stylist (used to be) now a fashion teacher for small kids "for some reason" ‘
    2. Who asked for the meeting – her, you or a third party?
    Without that contextual information, most of this is emotional wheel spinning and your seeking of general comments on your portfolio for the purpose of (as it occurs to me) making you feel better.
    ***
    You have provided no evidence whatsoever that her opinions were not honest.
    ***
    Regarding your question:
    “But still I want more honest opinions here from professionals. is there something I am doing wrong that I need to re-look at?”
    The photos in the link you provided:
    • have a genre stamp of moderately stylized fashion work which will be acceptable to several clients, today
    • there are flashes of Newton’s influence, here and there
    • there is not a genuine imprimatur effective throughout the whole series
    • it appears this is a collection of images, moderately disjoined; as though they have been accumulated over a period of various development stages, (or more likely?) a collection some of which are from prescribed assignments
    • the variance throughout the collection is not enough for one to sustain a valid perception that the Photographer is flexible enough to secure a wide range of prescription shoots, effectively
    • perhaps it is warranted to consider dividing the portfolio into two areas: one which displays the Photographers Style & Interpretation (especially of “Beauty”); and the other portfolio containing only high quality examples of Prescription and Directed Fashion Shoots
    WW
     
  18. Problems after the shoot are often a result of something that didn't happen before the shoot. Did she hire you based on your portfolio and if so, did you produce similar results? If she didn't, did you try to understand what she was looking for in the images. Did she have any examples of what she sought? If this didn't happened, then you were "shooting in the dark" and increased the possibility of the results not being acceptable. When you are doing this for pay, beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder. Period. I don't care if you are the next Steichen, if the client doesn't like it, they wont be hiring or paying you. As far as someone just not liking your work, you cant please everyone. Don't expect to. Your portfolio looks fine, if that's what she wanted, great. You have to understand how your images are to be used, the audience, and what the client tries to articulate they want. Remember, most aren't photographers or art directors, so you have to deduce what they want from non photographic descriptions. Another option is to shoot tethered with her present and making suggestions after each shot. You may be able to zero in on what she wants that way as well and once you have found it, get rolling. It may be a bit stressful having her looking over your shoulder, but way less stressful than being told the whole shoot was a loss. The important thing is to learn from the experience and not repeat it if you can. You will probably be a better photographer for it.
     
  19. I like them. to me they look more commercial and beauty for some. Your lighting is good but you could use some more styling and more interesting backgrounds. Models posing can make or break you.
     
  20. Oh Jeff, you sound like a disgruntled teacher feeling sorry for yourself.
    Being a person who has been a student of various disciplines across several industries in the last 50 years I can assure you that while my statement was glib, it is also, as often as not, true. Some of the most impressive people I have met were teachers. Sadly, an awful lot of teachers I have met have been fools and buffoons.
    Glib or not, the statement stands.
     
  21. <<<an awful lot of teachers I have met have been fools and buffoons. >>>
    Perhaps. So are an awful lot of engineers, and doctors, and Macy's employees, and even forum contributors. There are few professions deserving of more respect than teachers. It is to society's detriment that we underpay them and under-appreciate them.
     
  22. Bader, so sorry to hear you had a bad experience with a fashion "professional". A very wise man gave me some advise when I was quite young and I still use it to this day: "Always deliver the good news first and then deliver the bad news - if you must." This "professional" didn't behave very professionally on a number of fronts. She apparently had nothing good to say about your work. She missed a huge opportunity to educate. She was in your face rude...etc.
    So just put this up on the experience board and move on to the next client.
     

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