Here are some samples of critiques I’ve provided to other people. Click on the submission title to view the critique.
Hey! I'm a high school senior, photography has been a hobby for the past four years, and this past summer I just got into film. Not really a coherent portfolio, but her are some of my favorites: https://flic.kr/s/aHskPtDdTo Feel free to take a look at anything else on there too!
I like where you’re going with this. I can see you are fairly early in the process of mastering photography. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, we all start somewhere. This is good in that you are trying lots of things! That’s important to figuring out what you like.
I like many of these. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickknudsen/26916813275/in/album-72157677062333676/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickknudsen/29427791501/in/album-72157677062333676/https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickknudsen/28878714834/in/album-72157677062333676/ The beekeeper’s hut has great emotional tone and I enjoy the sidelight for enhancing that. The star shot is well composed — the circle formed by the trails is placed on a good thirds line and the tree silhouettes enhance that, also being placed on a thirds. The night shot of the building is good because the branches frame the distant tower and there’s also a color contrast between the green/yellow branches and the purple lit tower.
You have a good understanding of basic concepts. I want to see fusion. You need to take all three of these strengths and combine them into single images. Awareness of composition, framing (the way the branches focus attention on the tower) and using color and tonal contrasts to draw attention, while covering the whole thing in a sauce of emotional tone. If you can fuse all these individual skills into single images, or into series of images, that will be mastery. What if you made an effort (not always possible, but always worth the effort) to shoot for creating strength in every image by combining these things inside a hierarchy (one thing supporting another in an order that creates a path for the eyes, centered and resting on the focal point)?
A critique might also be, be aware of what you can capture and what you cannot based on your surroundings and equipment. I don’t enjoy shots like https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickknudsen/22103633155/in/album-72157677062333676/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickknudsen/20551627006/in/album-72157677062333676/ for a variety of reasons. The top one is clearly good light but the composition is muddled because you haven’t considered your foreground. In that shot you essentially want just the lit distant hillside. So you need to either discard the foreground by using a longer lens (something with a tight, 200mm type focal length) or find another composition that engages the viewer in the foreground as well as the distant hillside. The road isn’t enough, especially being on the edge of the frame, it’s unbalanced. The midday shot of the pond is just lacking in interest. The light isn’t spectacular — the reflection might be interesting, but it’s too far away and not a major element in the image. I would either get closer, or use a tighter lens.
Sometimes they get away from you. Find a way to disconnect your person connection to an image — maybe these were beautiful days that you really enjoyed, and that prevents you from critically viewing the image when you get home — and remember that others will not have that connection. They must stand on their own graphically.
Also, while I see you must be in Lightroom or some other processing software, I would encourage you to experiment with Photoshop, or some very focused processing software where you can make careful, layered adjustments. As you progress, try to create a workflow where you start to see the little details in the image, both while shooting and then later while processing, to refine your images down into a clear progression towards the focal point? There are many resources on the internet for tutorials and you can definitely teach yourself, or possibly take a class depending on your location. I would highly recommend it as a part of that next step towards fusing all these concepts together.
Keep it up, you’re doing well, I would say you’re certainly ahead of the curve but you need to stay committed to the art for a few more years before you’ll be a master. No worries about that — that’s life. Just keep working on your processing and your understanding of design. Read up on composition, but do it from the context of design. Photography composition blog articles tend to repeat the same basic information over and over. Design explains composition from the ground up in a way that is centered on geometry and tension, not muddled by the nature of photography as a possible documentary medium. Executing great compositions in a split second decision as you might as a documentary photographer will be a factor of practice alone — executing great compositions many many times before the critical moment — and are not sources in your method of understanding composition as it relates to the graphic image.
Also, get into film if you like, it might be fun. But all told, I don’t think it matters the format you capture images in very much. Film is nice, but in this era it is hard to work with and expensive. Easier to just use some variety of digital and simplify your workflow. Beyond technical concerns like sharpness, chromatic aberration and low light performance, your equipment is not as important as your vision — so consider cost and ease of processing. That’s why most people are into digital, because it’s simpler. The technical concerns largely favor digital in this era. Not to say there’s not things to learn from film, or that it’s not worth your time, it’s just that if I were you, early in my life and doing well, I’d spend my early days sticking to digital and not bother with film, as time will only make digital even better. Just my opinion.
I hate showing off my work, or posting on social media, so this might be a good opportunity for me. Fun idea, thanks. http://www.contrasticart.com
These are very good. Good simple site, too, though I do wish the images were a little larger on my screen.
Excellent use of framing, near and far comparisons, contrast, visual hierarchy. Great command of black and white processing, you keep your interest in the midtones and arrange the spread from blackest to whitest very well. Uniformly great compositions, I can see you’re very aware of the details.
To be honest there is not much I can provide for you, we’re close in ability so things become more difficult for me to articulate. I’ll start with favorites and least.
The ones I like least are usually a little too visually noisy for me — I can’t read an easy subject because all the tones are too close or there is too much pattern that isn’t arranged in a hierarchy. The people on the step with the trees in the background doesn’t resolve to a single point for me and I don’t “get” it, largely because it’s very hard for me to perceive due to both its size and the confusion of steps, people and branches all in a similar tonal range. I think your subjects in the first least-favorite image I linked at the couple with arms around themselves but it’s also a big visually muddled for me and they didn’t read right away either.
Occasionally some of your whites blast me a little hard and seem to bleed over edges — I don’t know if this is the hardware you shoot on or it’s intentional, but it limits my enjoyment.
As a whole these images are very strong. Just keep doing what you’re doing, you’re clearly pretty far down the road. So far in this post your portfolio is my favorite.
Hey! I'm a college freshman, and I'd love it if you'd review some of my work. My website is jonasbanta.com!
Good stuff man. I like your site. The landing page is a little tough from a design standpoint simply because it’s not balanced — we’ve got three blocks on a top row, one block on the next row down and then a bunch of white space. you might try arranging them so they’re a 4-up or something, though I guess your site theme is probably designed to have a lot more blocks. However, past that it’s a great theme and I like how big the images are and how they display and scroll.
You’re doing good things with color. It’s all well processed. Your main portfolio, the one with lots of portraits, is my favorite. There’s a good design aesthetic the majority of the images share, so it’s easy to parse as a whole work. I think you’re doing good things with portraits and keep it up, you’re creative with lighting and your style reads well.
Things to work on: I’d largely like to focus this on landscapes, since they’re my own strength and I have more to contribute for you.
I like https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57ddb068d2b857cdad041783/57e17e992e69cf0a755271f5/58407da3be6594762f5e1935/1480621498447/_IGP1626.jpg?format=1000w — your minimal style comes across well with that one. Some of the other ones display that hint of minimalism but it doesn’t come out strongly.
Specific things to be aware of to get there:
Watch the edge of your frame. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57ddb068d2b857cdad041783/57e17e992e69cf0a755271f5/57e17ed0be65949cfa53265d/1474395882379/indian+falls.jpg?format=1000w could’ve been awesome and right in line with your leading image in that portfolio but the composition and appeal is muddled by the snarl of branches at the top. I know it can be hard to work with what nature gives you, trust me, but in this I would gone with a tighter lens and just cropped the top 20%. Coming in tighter in the waterfall while still capturing the break in the darkness that surrounds the waterfall would’ve done the job I think. Same for https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57ddb068d2b857cdad041783/57e17e992e69cf0a755271f5/57e17ed5be65949cfa5326e2/1474395881043/virgincreek.jpg?format=1000w — that log on the bottom as well as the blown highlights around it aren’t working for me. I would’ve exposed more evenly by avoiding that overbright area and the snarl of the log as well. That said, if you’re fine with the log I’d definitely consider shooting in a way that saves the highlights on the water, it’s overbright in that area which doesn’t flow well in the image.
Try more dynamic compositions to create depth. Your current style plays really well on your portraits but if you’re interested in shooting landscapes you should add more depth to your images. Start by playing size against perspective. Have a strong close, large foreground element and distant visual interest as well. Make it clear using perspective distortion — things getting smaller as they go away, using lines or repetitive patterns — as well as “aerial perspective” — hazing and lowered contrast as things get farther away, to make your images deeper.
You’re doing some great stuff! Keep it up, I think that there is a real lack of minimal landscape photographers that actually fill the frame, like with your leading landscape shot. Plenty of people will have one small element and then a lot of negative space but I’ve seen few that can provide a minimalist feel while having actual content across the entire image.
Some good stuff here. Your site theme is a bit jarring to me but that may just be my personal design aesthetic. Without strong curation I get kind of lost on your front page. I like the ability to see a lot of images but they’re all kind of unrelated to each other and a bit too small in my opinion.
Some of your processing I really like. Favorite images: http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h80f159a0#h80f159a0http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h5040055#h5040055http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h80128387#h80128387 They first two are juicy — rich in color but not oversaturated, solid compositions, pleasing processing. Solid use of graphic communication.
Things I see you could work on:
Awareness of communication and the difference between your own connection to your photograph through memory and another person’s connection to the photograph through visual interest as a whole (what is essentially composition and visual appeal) or connection to their own, similar memory that is recalled by the image. There are many images here that I can see why you like them, but as an external viewer that wasn’t there when you took them and has no personal connection to the photo I often am not interested by them. http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/hab15347#hab15347http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h13c999eb#h13c999ebhttp://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h13f10bef#h13f10bef All don’t do much for me. I get the hint of nostalgia I think you’re trying to communicate, that part is great, but they don’t come through visually enough to really drive me to be interested. Midday is a hard time to work — you can make great stuff, but everything is made low contrast and drab by the light so you have to work a lot harder to get something like nostalgia to come across. The red barn shot while driving past is good except for that you have the second red structure clipped on the left edge of the frame, pushing the composition out of line. The moon being directly above the barn on the same side also further pushed the composition to be unresolved. The quality of light and “road trip” feel of it is good but it is muddled by the smaller composition elements. What is muting what I see, to you, is your personal connection to the image. If you want to communicate to others you have to learn to see around that.
Foreground awareness. This can be a tough one shooting wide. http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h80f15999#h80f15999http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h21c43cdf#h21c43cdf both need more to lead me into the image. On the black and white mountain, that pattern of clouds or blowing snow is awesome, but the problem is you’re not tight enough in on it to resolve the whole image. See the entire frame when you shoot. If there are large parts of the image that don’t serve the whole, they need to be removed somehow. Either get a tighter, more telephoto lens to get the viewer closer to the interest or involve the foreground more. When involving the foreground use things like perspective and alternating tones (say, white rocks that contrast the dark ground that alternate into the distance — or some natural line that recedes towards the focal point, like the road in your other color mountain shot I referenced). In the second image, there is technically a foreground but no elements contrast enough to truly be visible compositionally. Part of that is the time of day.
That brings me to the last thing I’ll point out — making sure your subjects read clearly. http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h8012872e#h8012872e was completely empty to me for the first second or so I looked at it. The small dog didn’t even appear to me at first because it doesn’t contrast enough, but in fact it’s the subject of the image. In http://www.blakedahlin.com/p961359207/h8012872e#h80127e6c I can see attention is directed at the man facing the camera, but I don’t really know why. Nothing in that shot is giving me cues to understand what’s going on, so I lost interested. Be aware, as I stated earlier, that to a person completely unconnected to you they may not see what you see because you were there. This is where you use things like contrast and visual hierarchy to direction attention. If you want that dog to be more visible, he needs to be contrasting the rest of the shot. Typically the eye will go first to the point of highest contrast in any graphic image. Size and faces and things of that nature can also be a focal point, but the best way to manage attention is contrast. Make sure that to others what you’re focused on comes across; make sure your subjects are able to be read and understood.
Good work though man, keep at it. Just keep working!
Might as well see how it works out. Straightouttafargo.squarespace.com I've been doing photography as a hobby for about two years now.
I like these. The Minnesota set is my favorite. I can see a burgeoning awareness of composition and how tonal values effect perception of focal point — good, focus on that. The focal point of greatest strength is typically the point of highest contrast. Know that and cultivate it when processing in lightroom or photoshop.
I see some good stuff here but I have the opinion that some of it is just happenstance. To better consciously understand elements of composition, study design. Get a book on design from the library that explains composition in that context. Understand that when you clip elements in your scene with the frame border it creates a different perception. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58705127ebbd1a356b4da9f7/58705deebf629ad523846782/58705e33cd0f6858a8f54934/1483759181532/ColorPoints.jpg?format=750w is weaker because of that.
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58705127ebbd1a356b4da9f7/5870529c2994cac298840340/5870841a17bffcd0585e67a3/1483768895523/DSC_8508.jpg?format=750w is a great example of greatest contrast as focal point. Try bringing up the tonal value of the snow in this photo — easily done. Just make it brighter, but leave the dog pretty dark (maybe a touch brighter, but still the darkest thing). Watch what happens. You should try and work largely in midtones with photos, arranged around just a few elements that go really dark or really bright to catch the eye. Do this with either adjustment brushes in lightroom or masked layers in photoshop (more powerful).
For https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58705127ebbd1a356b4da9f7/5870529c2994cac298840340/5870841a3a0411b6dbbf49dd/1483768894448/DSC_8470.jpg?format=750w next time I want you to get closer and tilt the camera down. Put that open water / ice patch stronger in the foreground and eliminate that unbalanced heaviness of sky.
Often getting a good wide angle shot is all about getting deeper into the scene and being aware of the size and power of foreground elements. Watch your foregrounds and look for things you can make large and strong in the foreground, especially when either through pattern or line they recede into the distance.
Keep working, you’re onto something, you just need to take like 10,000 more photos while watching and thinking about your output.