Building an example portfolio. (Critique needed)

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Trenton Romulox, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    Hi everyone,
    I'm not a professional, but I want to get into doing portraiture, mainly senior portraits. All right, so, I can get my friends (I'm in high school) to want to work with me or whatever, but what about people that aren't my close friends or kid's parents? So, I want to build up a portfolio so that I can show parents or students some shots that I've taken. Anyways, I shot this self-portrait today, and am looking for some critique, on everything, so that I can start taking shots for the portfolio I'm talking about. This was shot with with a 50mm f/1.4 using two off-camera SB-800s @f/16 (had to make sure I was in-focus, self-portraits are difficult HAHA). Hardcore critique is not only welcome, but greatly appreciated as I just want to get good enough at this where I can start to build up a client base. And because I'm a kid, it'll be tough to build up a client base, so I'm gonna have to put forth top-quality work. I'm mostly interested in doing location portraiture, because that's what most senior portraits around here are, but it is freezing rain outside, so I was shackled to my room. Oh, and I want to get a lighting set-up figured out before my best friend comes up from California (she's a model for GAP, A&F, Ford Modeling, and other stuff, so she'd be AMAZING to work with).

    Right, so the shot...please, DO NOT TAKE IT EASY ON ME. That's why I'm posting here rather than General Gallery or People Gallery. Thank you for looking. (I used the selective color because, one, I like my eyes, and two my nose was red today due to my teenage skin issues HAHA) I had to heal a lot of little blemishes, but many still remain, so yeah...gotta work on that.)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. dpolston

    dpolston TPF Noob!

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    Okay... I'll take a stab at this one because we've followed each other in a few posts and I think you know my heart on the matter [your work].

    The first comment might just be my boldest one and will go in the total opposite direction from your "style". You tend to shoot very artful and dark portraits. While they are in your comfort zone I think that style will totally, 100% miss your target market. The parents, grandparents, friends of grandpa's at the local Hardee's in the morning "will not get it" [the dark, "Tim Burtonesque" imagery].

    I think you need to shoot in the style that is "marketable", which is bright (mostly), vivid, non-selective colored, and dare I say it... "J.C.Penney's" style portraits. You're average mom doesn't want to buy 3 8x10's, 5 5x7's and 50 wallet size shots of their little Johnny or Susie setting on the basement stairs of an old factory.

    Having said that... there is a market for your work but I think it's more geared to the individual that you are shooting. I do however think it's shots for maybe a couple of 4x6's and a digi-file for their myspace.

    My advice for you is to shoot those friends of yours somewhere in a well lit, daylight, park setting and then let us go from there.

    David

    btw... I'm not crazy about the b&w and green eyes thing you have. But, that is only an opinion (like the rest of this post O mine)
     
  3. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    First off lets see it in color and/or black and white, no selective coloring unless that is what you plan to market (persnoally I would not market selective coloring). I like the photo but for a senior portrait it seems a bit dark. Also the lighting appears to be harsh especially on the forhead, try diffusing the light by either bouncing it off something white or shooting it through a white sheet, that should eliminate the hard light on your forhead. Also try positioning a light behind the subjest to separate then from the background a bit. Next would be to touch up skin a bit. Nothing over the top but just smooth it out a little. Like I said before I do like the portrait but I feel it doesn't fit into the "senior portrait" style... not to say you cannot create a new style.
     
  4. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the great responses guys! I totally understand where you're coming from, and I was wondering if the style was too dark. I've got some other ones that are brighter, I'll have to do some post-processing on those and put them in this thread. Thanks for the responses, they were WICKED helpful. :]
     
  5. JoannaWilcox

    JoannaWilcox TPF Noob!

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    I would have to agree that your style of shooting is not what people wanting "senior" portraits would go for. I would wait til it warms up outside and grab a few friends to shoot to build your portfolio.....you know seniors, so do a few shoots for free. Once you get 2 or 3 shoots quality shoot done you shouldn't have any probably finding work if your rates are reasonable :)
     
  6. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Joanna. I sure hope it warms up soon. Although, Maine doesn't warm up too fast, unless you're on the coast. But, I see you're in Ontario, so I'm sure you know all about cold weather.

    So, here's another shot...with a bit different lighting approach. The head position is bad, I am aware of that, and I'm tilted a bit up over the camera, which was sort of an accident. I'm a photographer at heart, so getting in front of my camera is sort of difficult HAHA. But, how's this lighting approach? And I know I should have had a light behind me to really set me apart from the background, but my room is so cramped, so it's tough.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    The lighting is still really harsh, are you diffusing it? if you are diffusing it try moving the lights back a bit. Do you plan to market your work as B&W senior portraits? 99% of the senior portraits I have seen have been color. Lets see what the color versions look like unless your dead set against it.
     
  8. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    I'm against color of these ones because my background is red and I hate it. And no, I'm not diffusing the light, even though I know I should. So, things to consider for senior portraits: bright, vivid, colorful, soft?

    What's a good way to diffuse an SB-800? I don't like the diffusion dome it comes with because it forces the flash to 14mm power and that's just not much power, at all. What other ways could I do it?
     
  9. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    I used the supplied diffusion domes on the two SB-800s for this one...any better? And still no color for this one, I seriously hate the red backdrop I'm working with.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'll take a stab if you don't mind. I think all us will agree that you have a certain style that you are developing...and quite well in most instances.

    As mentioned already, the artst-fartsy is not going to be marketable as a whole for senior portraits. So, if that is your target market, you will have to set aside individual artistry for individual projects, not disregard it alltogether by any means.

    For all - The lighting is way too harsh, scary in fact.

    #1 - Forget the selective coloring. Possibly only a one light setup camera left? You should use a reflector or the second flash to fill and create more detail on oposite side. The flash position looks as if it is just slightly above dead on even with your head. The shadow on the nose is awful. It makes it look wonky and really exaggerates the nostril.

    #2 - Better use of two flashes, but again the one camera left is cutting a hard shadow across the nose and now the neck. There is also a deep shadow on your ear. There is also a shadow line on the background.

    #3 - Shadow problems much better resolved, but the lighting is still quite harsh.

    How do you have the Commander Mode set? TTL, AA or Manual? Are both flashes on the same Group? Are you varying output of each?

    Having the diffuser dome and only being able to achieve zoom factor of 14mm is not a problem. It is creating a wider swath to diffuse the light (a good thing). If you don't have something like this (not endorsing this one, just the 1st 42" 5-in-1 I saw), you can diffuse your flash units by 1) moving them further away, 2) reverse the fireing direction , 3) shoot the a bed sheet, decrease output, many, many more ways. Just test.

    I would also suggest to have your main flash camera left, about 30-45° and 2-3 feet above head height. Second flash about 30-45° camera right behind subject with a reflector opposite. This was a suggestion given to me as a starting point and then adjust from there to create the light you want.

    Also, I found with the SB's, I have greater consistency and control with them set (in Commander Mode) to Manual rather them TTL and set to different Groups.

    I'm not gonna proofread what I just wrote, but there you go. Hope some of it helps and makes sense. I must go back to drinking now. Good Luck!
     
  11. Trenton Romulox

    Trenton Romulox TPF Noob!

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    That definitely helps, Kundalini. Thanks a lot for that very detailed response! This is exactly why I am posting on here because I am getting very good general critique, and also very good specific critique. I mean, I never would have noticed the shadow on the nostril on the first one really on my own, and now I'll probably be on a lookout for that sort of thing in all my future shots. And I'm gonna definitely look into a reflector. I was shooting with my built-in flash in Commander mode (but not affecting exposure by setting it to --) and my two SB-800s were on manual remote. I'm still having trouble getting light to not be so harsh, and it might be an issue with the flashes being too close (my room is SO cramped, I need to get into a bigger environment). And, I just want to make sure, lighting is harsh because of the rough edges to shadows and highlights, right? So, the goal of portraiture (at least like, portraiture that I'd have a client base for) is to get softer lighting? 'Cause I mean, for my own style, I seem to go for the harsher lighting, but I've got to learn more than just my personally preferred style, as you've all mentioned, or I just won't make it in portraiture. Thanks again, Kundalini, and everyone, for your very detailed responses and I'm gonna keep on practicing and see what I can do. :]
     
  12. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    Until you can get into a bigger space decrease your flash output and shoot through a white bedsheet, you should be able to diffuse the light enough that way. To practice with a reflector go grab some white paper or better yet a sheet of posterboard and bounce the flash off that. When shooting a senior portrait you really never want to hit your subject with non-diffussed light, if your using the diffuser dome do not aim it at you aim it up into the ceiling or in any direction but at you. In a small room you should be able to bounce the flash off numerous things.
     

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