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10-02-2007, 11:35 AM   #1
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I could use some advice.

Hi everyone. I know you don't know me, I've only posted a couple of times in here, but it is that lack of "bonding" that makes this the perfect place to ask for some advice.

I belong to another forum, and I frequently post my images for critique, and frequently get a LOT of negative feedback. It's okay, I need to know what I am doing wrong so this is fine with me. What I am wondering now though is, should I continue in this field? If you have a minute, perhaps you could flip through my gallery and let me know your opinions. Feel free to rip me to shreds, I'm cool with that. I am really at a cross roads here and need to know which way to turn. I truly enjoy photography, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for it.

A Thousand Words Photography

Thanks to anyone who is willing to participate.

10-02-2007, 12:23 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by strictlypentax Quote
I truly enjoy photography, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for it.
What do your clients think? Seems to me theirs is the only important opinion. If you're taking pictures for people and they like the results, then isn't that enough? You'll never please all the people, all the time, especially on forums.

I had a look through some of your galleries, and I liked some, didn't like others (mostly the heavily photoshopped ones) - but that's just my view; others may well have another.

My own preference is for a natural, only lightly post-processed 'look', so there are a number of shots that I could criticise on the grounds of "too much post-processing". But that's only my opinion, and if your clients like what you do, my opinion is irrelevant

I think the only thing that really jarred with me, other than just a few photos I didn't like, is the "images have been resized for the web, so may appear blurry" disclaimer, which gives me an impression of a lack of professionalism. If you resize a picture smaller, generally it should look sharper, not less sharp, so if they're ending up blurry when they're smaller, there's something going wrong somewhere.

It's worth taking the trouble over online galleries that advertise your work, so resize properly and apply effects such as sharpening that are appropriate to the size at which they're being displayed.

But apart from that, looking just at the photographs, I don't see anything that is so awful that would make it worth giving up - it's you and your clients that are important, not a bunch of opinionated people on a forum somewhere.
10-02-2007, 12:51 PM   #3
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I would have to agree with Chris. Its not what I think but what you and you client(s) think.

Since you asked for an opinion I'll give you mine for what its worth - they're too soft for my liking. Some of the backdrops need to be ironed and another thing, don't place three galleries on one page - separate them. Thanks for asking.
10-02-2007, 01:05 PM   #4
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Thank you two for looking and giving some feedback.

That's the kinda stuff I'm talking about. There's always something "negative" to be said about my work, which is why I am questioning my ability. I am so very new to this, did not and do not, have the opportunity to study at a university, or even a community college, so I am trying real hard to read all the free information available and seem to be getting nowhere.

Thank you for trying to put it gently, and yes every client I have had has been very pleased with my work, but I want to be a professional and I want my work to be accepted by the professionals as well as the general public. KWIM? There are those who have said I have no business collecting money for my work and claiming to be a photographer since I have such little grasp of how things work.

Thanks again for helping me sort this out.

10-02-2007, 01:15 PM   #5
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Wait a minute. I didn't say I was a "professional" nor did I want to give that impression.

Stop looking at the negative side. I should have added that I liked what I saw but it is obvious I could not and would not look at all the shots. The only direct comment I had on your work was that it was "too soft for my liking". And certainly, 2 comments are not the wnd of the world.

Visiting THIS forum and others, is way better than going to College or University.
10-02-2007, 01:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by strictlypentax Quote
and yes every client I have had has been very pleased with my work, but I want to be a professional and I want my work to be accepted by the professionals as well as the general public.
What makes you a professional is whether you're paid for what you do, which is dependent on whether your clients like what you do.

Not whether other professionals (I'm not one either, BTW) or forum-contributors give you the affirmation you seek.

There will always be those that don't like what you do, among the general public, and among others that want your clients' money.

But so what?

I agree about separating the galleries out, and that you should fix whatever is responsible for the resized pictures coming out unsharp. I'd make the font on your introduction more easily readable and less 'fancy', but now I'm straying back towards my own artistic bias.

But if you have to have affirmation from the other pros and forum types as well as from your clients, I predict a future of self-torment .
10-02-2007, 01:19 PM   #7
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ChrisA is correct. The people that need to be happy with the images are you and your clients. No one else matters. There are many different styles of photography. No one sees exactly like anyone else. That is good. The market will decide if you should stay in photography ( as a businesss). If people like your stuff you will make money - if not, you won't.
Things noticed while looking at your pictures.
1. Get rid of the "blurry because of down sizing" warning. Pictures can be downsized and look sharp on internet. Look at some of the pictures on this site. Need to improve your skills here. You may have to prepare these shots differently than the enlargements. Usually a little more contrast and color saturation along with more sharpening will do. Your web site photos need to have higher quality. The originals have it.

2. The pictures seem to have a fairly broad range of color temperature from category to category. This should be color corrected a little tighter.

3. Some of your poses look a little stiff. Try to get the subjects into the mood of things a little more. This is not always easy to do. Also be careful how you pose heavy people. Don't want to accent negative features.

4. Watch backgrounds. The motorcycle images could be a little less cluttered. There is a bush growing out the back of the motorcycles. Also window to right takes viewer attention away from subject. If no other background was available you could position cycles further away from wall and throw it out of focus using a larger aperture opening like F4 or so.

5. Like the design of your website. Love the name of the company. Good play on words.

Overall, think you are starting off well. Work on the technical side, to present consistantly higher quality, and you will do fine. You have some nice poses. Take lots of pictures and look at others work. Strive to always appear professional. Don't give possible customers a reason to worry. Never show bad pictures to them. Edit.
Hope this helps
keep at it
thanks
barondla
10-02-2007, 01:54 PM   #8
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There are plenty of amazing photographers that do not have a college education. I wouldn't use that as an excuse for not being able to improve. There are lots of great free information on the internet as well. Even lots of people here have given great advice. I've learned a quite a few things since joining this forum.

I'm surprised to hear that you do not have the opportunity to study at a community college. If you're seriously looking for direction, photo classes at the junior college level may very well be able to give you a jump start. It forces you to experiment with different kinds of photography to find a style that suits you. The environment is encouraging and it's also very affordable.

As with any form of art, some have more talent than others, that's without a doubt. But even if one can be verified to not have natural talent in the field, hard work is a great substitute. Photography isn't a formula, as even the most fundamental "rules" of photography can be broken and still have amazing results. However, hard work is just that... can't expect to take a few pictures and magically become a "pro". Keep practicing and trying new things until you've found your style. They say the toughest critic is usually yourself, so figure out what you dislike about your pictures (or what's lacking between your version and the highly paid professionals) and what you can do to resolve it.

10-02-2007, 02:10 PM   #9
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I appreciate all the feedback.

JCSullivan, I was speaking generally. A lot of those who give feedback on the forum I frequent are professionals.

ChrisA, you're right about my future

barondla, thanks for all the info.

AVANT, thanks for the input. Even our local community college is pretty high, so it's just not going to happen.

I have taken the disclaimer down, and should clarify that the "resizing" was from the fact that I sized them small to prevent copying and printing, then the slidshow blew them up, which made them "fuzzy". I hate to post them at larger sizes and take the chance of clients copying them to print.

Thanks all!! I feel somewhat encouraged as no one has come out and said "You just don't have what it takes, you should seriously consider leaving photography."
10-02-2007, 02:31 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by strictlypentax Quote
I feel somewhat encouraged as no one has come out and said "You just don't have what it takes, you should seriously consider leaving photography."
It's always nice to be praised rather than criticised.

But suppose someone had? Then what?

Are you really going to pay more attention to a comment on a forum from someone you don't know and will probably never meet, than you do to your happy clients?

Sounds daft to me to base a sense of self-worth on such things.

For your own sanity and sense of personal integrity, I would suggest the following:

Decide for yourself what you want to do, for whom, and why. Then evaluate any feedback you get in that context, and choose for yourself, for your own reasons, which elements of that feedback you incorporate into your work, and which you don't.
10-02-2007, 02:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by strictlypentax Quote
I hate to post them at larger sizes and take the chance of clients copying them to print.
There are other ways to prevent this. You can watermark the photos and/or remove the right click function from your web site so it displays a message discouraging illegal copying.
10-02-2007, 03:10 PM   #12
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A couple of things....

1. You said you were new to this...and you're already getting paid to take photos. Some people study for years first so don't be so hard on your self. You cannot be perfect all of the time. Do your best and be critical of your own work. If you look around flickr, pbase, here and other places, you'll recognize what good work is....when I first starting shooting birds, I had some semi-decent shots and put them in critique groups where they were picked apart. I used what was said to me to improve my photos and now I am happier with my images but still not satisfied. Critics can be used to your advantage.

2. If you clients buy your product and are satisfied then you should be somewhat satisfied too. I am one of those that is never satisfied with my effort because it makes me want to learn more for next time.

3. Not everyone is going to like your work. Especially not in forums where everyone who can afford a Canon 1D thinks they are a pro and will cut you down to size with your little Pentax camera. If someone has a critique, take it at face value and put it in your mental camera bag for later. More often than not it'll be usable advice at some point even if ill intended.

4. Get used to rejection in this field. It is very competitive and there are a lot of people that are really good out there. Just keep learning and perfecting your craft. I am reading a book about making money with photography in every conceivable way. (I haven't crossed into that realm yet) and it pretty much says get used to rejection and keep pressing in. Make sure your work is quality and go from there.

5. Have fun with photography. It is fun!

6. As far as your photos went, I am pretty much with the consensus. The one's I looked at were for the most part pretty nice. I am not a big PS fan either (I use it) but find it difficult to get just right. I think you have much potential but you can't expect to be Ansel Adams overnight. You're new. Photography is a lifelong pursuit for some.

7. The only person that should make you quit is you. Not somebody else!

These are just some things that have been said to me over the years that have helped me to progress in many areas. Hope I don't sound harsh. Good luck!
10-02-2007, 03:50 PM   #13
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I didn't read the others comments first before posting a reply so I may be repeating some thoughts.
First if your clients are happy with the work then that is the most important critique.
Second this photography thing is a constant learning experience. I've been shooting for over 20 years and still learn from others comments and make tons of mistakes. even the 'Pro's' have lots of crappy shots and only use the best from any shoot.

I would also say you have a good sense of the way the image should be taken. Also a good rapport with the subject. the people in the shots look comfortable and the smiles look natural.

You may be overdoing it with the post processing. A little less can often make for a much better and more natural shot.

I noticed that many shots seem soft and out of focus. I think you need to work on that aspect more. Often it is simply a matter of slowing down. Remember you are the director of the movie. Take charge of the situation when you shoot. If you need to have them stand in one spot for 5-10+ minutes while you set the shot up, don't be afraid to tell them that you need them to be patient. Good photogrphy takes time.

Be more careful with the lighting and the backdrops. That there are no shadows and the backdrop looks smooth without wrinkles.

You have what it takes IMO but need to take more time when shooting, be more assertive and not worry about some critic as long as your clients are happy and work on the small details. These details will make a good shot a great shot.

I'm never totally satified with my work. Every shot I take I can see where I could have done just a little bit better. That is what photgraphy demands from all of us. Constant learning, evaluation and striving to be better than the last time. I think you have what it takes and will be just fine at this. keep working to get better and keep reading/practicing.

BTW I'd divide the galleries up more as well to make viewing a little easier on the web page.

Last edited by Peter Zack; 10-02-2007 at 04:01 PM.
10-02-2007, 04:56 PM   #14
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OK, first of let me say as someone who has been there and done that, your work is certainly good enough for the subjects you are shooting. A long time ago I shot senior portraits as well as weddings for a studio in Knoxville, TN.

The first thing you have to realize is that many "pros" are SNOBS! Openly admit that you specialize in school portraits and weddings and you are usually immediately stereotyped as just another photo-by-the-numbers hack. Rightly or wrongly the "shopping mall studio" has tarnished many good photographers by proxy.

Also, you need to find a website/group that concentrates on your genre. I havn't looked but there is certainly a forum for senior/school photography. I know there are forums for wedding photographers. Please understand, I'm not tryin to say that PF isnt the place for you, but to get meaningful advice/feedback from your "peers" you need to be talking to folks who shoot what you shoot. Don't try to get helpful advise or feedback on senior portraiture from guys who shoot pro sports. In the meantime (and longer) we're here to support you of course.

Anyway, as for your photos, are there nagging little details that could be better? Of course! But you will find those in anyone's work. Even the pros don't get every shot right, and frankly you probably sell more photos than 90% of them.

For someone with "no training" you are frankly doing amazingly well. You seem to have a knack for connecting with your subjects, especially the seniors/teens. You appear to have worked with them in the clothing they brought and have made photos that fit their personalities.

The wedding photos look a little awkward but probably only to another photographer. As you say, your clients like your work and if they pay for the prints then you've done your job. The measure of commercial success is the payment you receive for your services so if they are payin you are doin good.

The next test of success is, of course, referals and repeat business. Have your past clients sent you new clients? Don't expect this a lot but you should see some. After the wedding do they call you for holiday photos or special occasions? Again, you probably won't see a lot of this but you should see some.

So, if you ask me (and you did), I'd say keep shooting until you can't get clients, or you no longer enjoy it. Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

Mike
10-02-2007, 05:44 PM   #15
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I took a quick look at your site Misty, and for the most part I like your work.
I'll just comment on what others have already stated.

QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisA Quote
What do your clients think? Seems to me theirs is the only important opinion. If you're taking pictures for people and they like the results, then isn't that enough? You'll never please all the people, all the time, especially on forums.
Chris is right about this.
I didn't notice the blurry pic's, but then again I only took a quick look.

QuoteOriginally posted by JCSullivan Quote
don't place three galleries on one page - separate them. Thanks for asking.
That was the first thing that I noticed

QuoteOriginally posted by strictlypentax Quote
I am so very new to this, did not and do not, have the opportunity to study at a university, or even a community college, so I am trying real hard to read all the free information available and seem to be getting nowhere.
Why not look into the odd day course here and there?
They're usually very affordable, and you'll learn a fair amount.
Also look into a local camera club. There's a good chance that someone will help you out with the odd problem here and there.

QuoteOriginally posted by JCSullivan Quote
Stop looking at the negative side.
REMEMBER THIS! Even the worst photograph can be used to teach you what not to do.

QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisA Quote
I'd make the font on your introduction more easily readable and less 'fancy'
Don't get me wrong, I like that font.
However I refuse to use it on my web site for anything other than the titles because it isn't the most readable
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