Faux-Pro photographer rant and catch-22

bratkinson

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I'm stuck between being a 'politically correct' ex-grand-stepfather to my ex-stepdaughter in regards to the photographer she's contracted with for regular photo shoots with her now 10-month old son. Or, do I 'open up' and let her know she's getting gypped! I'm a thousand miles away so I can't say much or go take the pictures myself, unfortunately.

It was obvious in the first photographs I received that the supposed pro-photographer apparently set up a studio with nothing more than a very simple background or two and a chair or two and that's it. That I could live with. But it was apparent last July that he had little knowledge of portrait photography and/or studio lighting as it looked like he was using a single window somewhat to the side and in front of the subject for lighting. The problem is that the catch light in my step grandsons' eyes covered the entire pupil and more in each eye and was clearly rectangular. I mentioned his to her and in subsequent photos, it improved very slightly.

Now, I am not, have not, nor have any desires to be a professional photographer, nor one who takes portraits for pay. But I'm at the point where I can't stand it any longer.

Here's a link to the photographers pictures of my step-grandson:

Picasa Web Albums - Fix - Sebastian 10 ...

I'm told it will be up for a week or so.

He's clearly improved his studio with various new backgrounds, but it looks to me that he's taken to Photoshopping in catch lights in Sebastians' eyes. Every one is exactly square, exactly the same size, and still overwhelms me as the viewer. Why do I say they're Photoshopped in? Because catch lights, whether natural or the result of a well-positioned light source, will always be in the same place in both eyes. Maybe at 4 o'clock relative to each pupil, maybe 10 o'clock, whatever. But never in different positions relative to the pupil and this is the only case I've seen of very square catch lights. Either he's one really-bad photographer or has a rather screwy home-built, too big, square 'flash box' of some kind.

So, here's my problem. Do I tell her as I have after the first set of shots they are all good pictures, etc? Or do I tell her the truth? It's time for a different photographer. I promise I won't say a thing about his head being cut off, or the wiggly line wall paper has to go, etc!
 

tirediron

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While I agree 100% on the quality of work, there are many more issues than just the horrible catchlights, but in my opinion: Keep the peace. Keep your pie-hole shut!

If you were next door, you could try the old, "Hey cool pictures, I had an idea I've been wanting to try...." but as that's not an option...
 

sm4him

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Lol--in photo 18 of 30, it kinda looks like he accidentally cloned one of those "catch lights" into the kid's mouth. :D

My first thought on reading your situation:
Is the child's mother pleased with what she's getting, or has she said anything about them that leads you to believe she thinks they could be better?

If she is happy with the results of what she is paying for...well, then, see John's post above.

It might be YOUR grandson...step-grandson...relation...but it AIN'T your circus, or your monkeys. :D
 

bribrius

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if it bothers you that much, find a great photographer around her where she lives. Send them a check, and tell her she has free portraits coming. Then she will know the difference.
 

Derrel

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The kid is cute...he's in-focus, and the silly hardwood flooring, fake moulding strip, and gaudy "wallpaper" is very much of this era...these photos look like low-end but in-focus toddler pics circa 2010-2015...very,very much of this era. Annnnd, I expect that they cost only $40-$50 per CD.

I would definitely not say much except, "My, how handsome he is!" an "Thank-you." Seriously. I was expecting about 20 times worse stuff.
 

bribrius

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The kid is cute...he's in-focus, and the silly hardwood flooring, fake moulding strip, and gaudy "wallpaper" is very much of this era...these photos look like low-end but in-focus toddler pics circa 2010-2015...very,very much of this era. Annnnd, I expect that they cost only $40-$50 per CD.

I would definitely not say much except, "My, how handsome he is!" an "Thank-you." Seriously. I was expecting about 20 times worse stuff.
they really aren't that bad imo, but i know about nil on portraits. The catchlights, are down right annoying and tacky though. Makes the photos just suck, when they could have been pretty decent.
 

Forkie

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I'm afraid I don't see any evidence of Photoshopped catchlights. Those are catchlights from a softbox camera-left.

If you look at picture #2, you can see the reflection of the softbox and also where light from the softbox is bouncing off of the wooden floor. So, either the catchlights are real, or the photographer has a super-human attention to detail in processing, but lacks it in all other areas - which I reckon is unlikely.

I actually think it's not a bad set of photos and that the little lad's eyes look bright and alert and happy. Yes, there are a few shots in there that are not from the best angle, but you'll always have the odd one like that, here and there, no matter who shoots them. The most important thing is if the mother likes them. They are very standard toddler portraits which we see time and time again. They're not particularly innovative or new, but they are good photos.

Maybe the photographer is just starting out and doesn't have a full range of light modifiers. I only have a couple of softboxes myself. Building up a collection of lighting and modifiers takes time (if you even want a full range of them) and it is by no means a pre-requisite to being professional.
 

DanOstergren

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I honestly don't see what's so bad about these photos and personally I don't think your opinion is any of your ex-stepdaughter's business.

Also, I happen to believe a single window creates an excellent indoor light source, nor does using one instead of studio lighting make anyone a "faux-tographer".
 
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Braineack

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He's clearly improved his studio with various new backgrounds, but it looks to me that he's taken to Photoshopping in catch lights in Sebastians' eyes. Every one is exactly square, exactly the same size, and still overwhelms me as the viewer. Why do I say they're Photoshopped in? Because catch lights, whether natural or the result of a well-positioned light source, will always be in the same place in both eyes. Maybe at 4 o'clock relative to each pupil, maybe 10 o'clock, whatever. But never in different positions relative to the pupil and this is the only case I've seen of very square catch lights. Either he's one really-bad photographer or has a rather screwy home-built, too big, square 'flash box' of some kind.

He made a mistake of positioning the light too low, but he didn't photoshop these catchlights.

faux-analyzer.
 

pixmedic

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the lighting on these isn't terrible. the wallpaper is terrible.
if anything, they needed more light camera right for fill either by another light source or a reflector.
the square catchlights are really throwing me off though. I guess im just used to the round variety of catchlight.

lotta duplicates here. the 3 pictures with the kid in the chair all have different DOF's. Personally, i would have picked the one with the entire kid in focus and just used that one. A couple are missed focus, or pretty soft focus, and a couple that I would have definitely wanted more DOF on.

Sorry...you probably weren't looking for critique. force of habit.
Overall though, you don't have to feel too terribly bad for the parents...this really is not an awful set. I was expecting to see much worse after reading your post.
I suspect they will be pleased, and that the bill wasn't overly extravagant.

My advice?
let this sleeping dog lie. (lay?) whatever.
it doesn't seem worth a possible ex-inlaw-twice removed-whatever family feud over mediocre pictures.
The kid looks happy, the parents are probably happy, it probably didnt cost them much...it sounds like a good time was had by all. just let it be. you gotta pick your battles wisely.
 

bribrius

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I'm afraid I don't see any evidence of Photoshopped catchlights. Those are catchlights from a softbox camera-left.

If you look at picture #2, you can see the reflection of the softbox and also where light from the softbox is bouncing off of the wooden floor. So, either the catchlights are real, or the photographer has a super-human attention to detail in processing, but lacks it in all other areas - which I reckon is unlikely.

I actually think it's not a bad set of photos and that the little lad's eyes look bright and alert and happy. Yes, there are a few shots in there that are not from the best angle, but you'll always have the odd one like that, here and there, no matter who shoots them. The most important thing is if the mother likes them. They are very standard toddler portraits which we see time and time again. They're not particularly innovative or new, but they are good photos.

Maybe the photographer is just starting out and doesn't have a full range of light modifiers. I only have a couple of softboxes myself. Building up a collection of lighting and modifiers takes time (if you even want a full range of them) and it is by no means a pre-requisite to being professional.
i don't know how he did it, other than that, the images are decent. But the square catch lights looked frucked.
Ain't no way around that.
 

DevC

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Honestly, the photos aren't that bad.
Sure they aren't perfect, but man are they livable.
 

480sparky

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Myself, I don't care for the faux catchlight. But if the customer who's forking over the money for them is happy, then we're not in any position to judge them.

Time to move on and go shoot something.
 

Braineack

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they aren't faux catchlights.
 

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