Critique and Comments(CC) Welcome – NOT!!

I’ll take NOT!!.  And I’ll explain why.

I saw a picture posted of a park bench(empty) on an Autumn day.  Was done in Black and White.  I liked the starkness of the picture with the dark, thick clouds.  It communicated to me.  The artist said in the post “CC Welcome”. One person commented that it would be a better shot with someone sitting on the bench.  For me it would have ruined the shot.

It is all about communication.  Really.  What are you trying to communicate. Someone may want to show the starkness of a shot like above where another photographer may want to show the loneliness of a person or juxtapose a cheerful, colorfully dressed individual on the bench.

If you post a picture or show it to someone and you are getting some kind of emotional response then I think you have done a decent job.  Some critics are going to be more interested in certain technical aspects of a photo than whether or not it communicates.  Or elicits some emotional response.  I have seen some very mediocre(technically) pictures that could make me laugh or cry endlessly.

Now, I’ll give you that as one’s expertise increases so does his or her ability to create effects.  And thus communicate more clearly or easily.  That doesn’t mean one has to always use every tool at their disposal.

Sometimes, I take certain pictures and way over-process them.  I have one selfie that I took where I’m smoking a cigar, squinting against the sun.  Shows me all wrinkled and old looking.  My girlfriend hates  it.  I feel the photo communicates a part of me.  Lots of people like and lots don’t.  I like it.  I think it is a great shot.  So there!

If I were to ask for C&C I would be very specific.  For example, if I were trying to get a wider range of tones in my black and white photos, I might post a picture and ask for ideas on how to do this.  Other photographers will have tried different things and some of your responses will be simple and some not so.  Often you are looking for something you can do within your means.  Starting out many don’t have the money to spend every time they need to try a new technique.  So, this is a good way to gets some cheaper, workable ideas.

The shotgun aspect of asking for general critique and comments covers too much.

I’ve seen more artists destroyed by criticism.  I think it is rarely, if ever, useful.

Now if I don’t like a particular communication – that is a different story.  Not every piece of art is for every public(audience).  Years ago, I was at a very public venue near Queen’s Quay in Toronto.  There were markets and stores and on the walls in one section there were framed photo prints of a couple of local photographers.  They were borderline porn.  This was a family venue. There were a huge number of people walking around with their children. Some very upset moms and dads.

I’m not commenting on the quality of the photos or anything of the sort.  I’m questioning the audience.

I’ve met few artists that don’t have some kind of idea of the quality of their art.  It isn’t that difficult to compare what you have done to a photographer you are trying to emulate.  Though we are often our own worst critics.  And saying that, if we are questioning something that we have created, and someone slams us, that is not going to do much for our willingness to continue to create.

Some will say this will make us a better artist.  I vehemently disagree.  Doing more of your art and increasing one’s expertise will make one better.  As a photographer, one can now do volumes and volumes much more cheaply than 30 years ago.  This has its pros and cons.  One has to actually learn techniques and pay attention to what they are doing.

Here is a simple example.  A million snapshot portraits are taken at Niagara Falls where the photographer ‘cuts off the feet’ of the people in the picture.  Reading a beginner photo magazine will make sure that someone learns not to do this.  If you asked for C&C on a picture like this you may get a hundred different opinions: ‘the falls were out of focus’, ‘you need to use your flash’, you need to not use your flash’ … The point being one could improve the quality by just not cutting off the feet.  Reading, observing, learning and most of all doing.

I tend to ask my market audience if they like or don’t like rather than other photographers.  Why show your head shots to another to another agency where he or she may hate them or suggest all sorts of changes but the actors agent may love them!

So, in a word, Comments and Critiques not welcome.

(Thanks for listening.)

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Photoshoot with Ms B in my mini home studio

Much fun shooting with this young lady:

 

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Millarville Rodeo August 2014

I went out to the Millarville Rodeo yesterday.  It was pretty dusty again.  In some respects this adds to the flavour of the pictures but sure makes it hard to get sharpness with all that dust and dirt.  Here are some of the calf roping, bronc riding,  and calf wrestling  from the afternoon:

 

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Model Photoshoot at Rodeo Grounds

It was a pretty bright day and the photos in the sun were tough – no assistant to hold the diffuser.  We could have gone later in the day but I really hate mosquitoes so we’ll go again in September.  But in spite of that we got some great shots.  We had lots of fun as well – and that is equally important.

I shot raw images with my Nikon 7100 using a Tamron 70-300 lens with unbelievable VR.  Because of this I was able to do some adjustment in the high contrast pics.  The model had not done anything like this before and moved like a pro.

 

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A Model’s Job vs a Photographer’s Job

I’ve read numerous articles and comments about who should bring what to a photoshoot.  I read a comment recently where a model was asking about poses.  The comment was that the photographer will tell you what he or she wants.  That can be true to the extent that a photographer may have an exact vision of what he wants and will give very specific instructions and direction.

Often, though, if the two are doing a model shoot(testing – TFP) there may not always be something specific planned. Either way a new model should learn some basics.  Years ago when learning I had a chance to work with a professional model where previously I had been working with people who were learning.  We were shooting a wedding gown for a client.  Once finished, we had a bit of time and so we decided to a couple of rolls of regular film.  (Yes, this was before the digital era.)  I shot two rolls of 24 (48 pictures).  She gave me a different pose and look after each click of the shutter.  Every shot was fantastic and it took us all of 15 minutes.

I asked her afterward about this ability.  She said it was hours of practicing in front of the mirror.  This was for her facial expression and her body pose.

So, I suggest as a model or soon to be model: get a full length mirror if you do not already have one.  Look in magazines for poses that will work for your body.  Get at least 10 poses that work for you.  More if you can remember them.  And try different facial expressions.  I have seen what otherwise would be a great shoot but the expression on the model’s face is exactly the same in every photo.

For a genuine smile that gets all the way to the eyes, check out this video by    about the ‘Squinch’:

http://photo-photo.com/blog/peter-hurley-and-the-squinch/

Now, if you are doing a shoot modeling a evening gown, your poses would likely be different from the poses that you are going to use for a bathing suit photoshoot.

Spend time in front of the mirror.  There are tons of samples of poses online – try Pinterest.  Work it until you have several standing, sitting or laying down.  The photographer may ask you something to tweak the pose but by bringing a number of good poses that you already know work well for you, the photographer can work on light and shadow and getting these perfect for the shot.

Another video that needs to be watched by anyone getting their picture taken is this one:

http://photo-photo.com/photography-tips/peter-hurley-video-headshots-and-the-jaw/

It is also by Peter Hurley. Practice this until it is second nature.  Again, I’ve seen more pictures ruined by a double chin where the person is trying to look cool or sexy and they have not looked in a mirror to see what it looks like ahead of time.

All this observation of yourself in front of the mirror will also help you get a better idea what type of clothing works for you; what hides curves you want hidden and what enhances curves that you want enhanced.  What poses make your legs look smaller or larger depending on what is needed.  A little bit of side advice here: don’t ask your friends to tell you what looks good or doesn’t.  This is your job; you are the professional; you need to get your judgement to the point where you are certain. And that comes from observing and understanding what works and what doesn’t.

If it is your first photo shoot or so just start with a few and try and increase your list of poses as you go.

The photographer should be bringing his or her skills of lighting, framing and knowledge of the camera and similar tools.  Make each shoot a collaboration.  This may change if the photographer has something very specific in mind.  In this case he has likely hired you for a specific skill set or look.  But have some ‘stuff’ up your sleeve so you can contribute if asked upon to do so.

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Peter Hurley video: Headshots and the Jaw

This is a great video that should be watched by anyone taking or getting their picture taken.  Any kind of portrait.

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Dogpound Rodeo 2014, Alberta, Canada

Took some pictures at the Dogpound Rodeo on July 16th, 2014.  I photographed this rodeo a couple of years ago and got some really great shots.  I do enjoy these smaller rodeos as you can get closer in – it is a much more intimate setting.  That being said, it is the roughest time of day to shoot – middle of the day – it was very hot and sunny and the sun straight up.  Making shooting conditions were pretty contrasty but … the dust was great for pictures. Not so great for camera equipment!

Not much information online about this rodeo. (If anyone from the Dogpound Rodeo is reading this, I would love to hear from you.  Email me. )

Takes me about 45-50 minutes up(north) Highway 22 from Calgary.  As always, some of the best horsemen to be seen are the ‘catchers’ – I don’t know their official name but these are the cowboys that catch the broncos that have dumped their riders.  Watching these guys ride at a full gallop beside a bucking horse that does not want to be caught to get him or her calmed down is a spectacular event all of its own.  Definitely one of my favourite parts of any rodeo.

If you are wondering about the name ‘Dogpound’ – A ‘pound’ was a place, usually a cliff, where buffalo were driven to their deaths.  Sometimes the dogs herding them would get caught up with the buffalo and over the cliff they went to their deaths as well.

Hope you like the pictures:

 

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Calf Cutting at Swift Current Rodeo 2014

Caught some of the calf cutting on Saturday at the Fair and Rodeo in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

 

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The Fair and Rodeo in Swift Current 2014

Here are some pictures of warming up the horses, some draft horses, classes and standing around waiting:

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“Common” Knowledge about Model and other Releases

One of the things that keeps me from going to Facebook is the huge amount of false information that gets forwarded by people without checking validity.  Then there are the deeper, more entrenched urban legends.  Here is a fantastic blog post on the subject of model releases and property releases.   Great article – lots of good research.

Model Release Myths

Do couple this information with manners.  Even if you do have permission, you won’t get invited back if you piss people off.

 

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