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Take Better Pictures Tampa Workshop-Constructive Critique

Actually, I prefer to call it “constructive feedback” and not “critique” or “constructive criticism,” which has a horribly negative feel to it.  The whole point of feedback is to learn and get better, not to criticize.  So “constructive feedback” it is!  Anywho, this is the homework of some of the “students” who attended my workshop, “Take Better Pictures of Your Children” at Art Explorers.   And like good little students, they made sure to hand in their homework on time.  To those who did not, 5 lashes with a  wet noodle- ha!  🙂  I enlisted the help of good friends and fellow professional photographers, Kelly Hite of Pure Sugar Studios in Jacksonville, Fl, Edie Black of Edie Black Photography in Signal Mountain, Tenn, and Robyn Osten of Life’s Little Celebrations in St. Louis, MO for some additional feedback and to help me in selecting a winner.  Here is the homework and “CF” (I selected 1 or 2 of the best images that everyone turned in): I know you were finding it hard to capture Tristan, Beth, esp with a point and shoot camera.  But I think you captured a sweet expression.   I like your composition.  I like how you tried to use window light to get some of that natural light that we discussed.  One thing with photography, the object closest to the camera always tends to appear the largest (hence his ball looks HUGE and out of proportion with his head) (this happens with body parts, too!)  I like this image better than the other your submitted with selective coloring (but kudos for trying some new setting in your camera). Robyn said, “Nice job with rule of thirds, and I even like how you shot half of your son’s face.  The first image is a little soft (not super sharp) and a bit under exposed.  I like the shallow depth of field in the second.  A little soft as well”.  Workshop attendees were told that for their homework they did not have to photograph their kids, especially because I asked them to try shooting in manual (which can be tricky with live “models” when you first start doing it (heck, it can be tricky with live “models” years after you start doing it- ha!)  Edie said, “Great job really making your subject stand out.  I really like the simplicity of the second image.  Good exposure on both.  Both have nice focus.  Again the colors and simplicity of the second stand out the most to me.  Nice job!” I see where you were going with this, Megan, and really think it was a great attempt.  Love the colors- it all looks very cohesive.  It is very underexposed (too dark), but it is in good focus and I like that she is not in the middle.  Nice try! Kelly said “Great DOF (depth of field).  I am a sucker for shallow DOF!  And nice work with sharpness.  My CF would be that they both are a little dark, but I like the catchlights in her eyes.”   (remember that we spoke about catchlights???:) )  “They both have a very sweet spirit to them which I enjoy.” Robyn said, “Again, great composition with rule of thirds.  The first is very underexposed but I know that can be tricky with bright spots on one part of the subject.  I would suggest (if/when possible) moving the subject to more even lighting.  The second is my favorite.  Great light in her eyes and very nice backlighting on her hair.  Great exposure.” Very sweet image, Nate.  And yes, you did manage to get “catchlights” in her eyes.  Your exposure is about 1/2 stop off (maybe a little more).  Her eyes are sharper than you think (I know you were struggling with this).  When I looked up close, her cheek just below her eye was pretty sharp so it might be that your focus point was not exactly in her eye.  Very nice composition.

After looking at everyone’s homework and getting CF from my photog friends, the winner of the homework assignment and the complimentary studio session and $100 print credit goes to Jan (5th set of images with the adorable curly haired little girl.)  Overall, I think everyone did a very good job and I am very proud.  I hope I was able to teach you at least 1 thing about photography or help you improve at least a little bit.  It can be very challenging and  I know I am constantly learning new things and better ways to do things.  I loved teaching the workshop and look forward to more.  Thanks so much for attending and to Lori at Art Explorers for hosting us!

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