I've been down on myself


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Aug 5, 2011
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So I don't post very much. I've been super critical of my work in the past few months, and fairly disillusioned with the images that I've been putting out. Yesterday I decided to make my way over to a local 4th celebration and had a great moment of clarity that I think resulted in a pretty good image. I've been trying to work an "american children" theme for a while and I think I'm finally taking some steps towards building a set. First image is the one I took yesterday, second image is the only other shot in the set so far. I would appreciate any thoughts.


I'd recommend reading or checking out more on composition. I find both images to be a bit distracting. Not really sure what the main focus of the picture is.

The first photo the word "American" is pretty much all I see. After a bit I seen the kid, but I'm not sure if black and white is the best choice for this photo. If you're stuck on black and white, I'd recommend using the dodge tool to lighten up some of the areas.

The 2nd photo, the kid is chopped off on the right frame. I think paying a bit more attention to the composition on your photos would result in a much better photograph.

Don't be too hard on yourself, it's all part of learning. Keep taking photos!
Powasky, I think we are in the same boat, I also like street photography, sometimes super critical on myself and I am on a learning curve, so you may take my C&C with a pinch of salt. I will not write about technical details, because I really do not care about it at this stage. I hope more seasoned photographers will give you some advise there. I will write about, in my view, the most important things.

1/ The Idea: what is great is that you have ideas, many camera owners start with shooting flowers and finish with shooting cats. ( Do not want to hurt anyone, i am just allergic to cats :lol: I am not joking , I can not spend more that 10 min a room with a cat. )
So having actual ideas is great! From what I see I can guess that the idea here is to show that some American kids live in a world full of rubbish (and probably because of that they are full of rubbish when they grow up). Good idea and quite abmitious. I may be wrong here. But if i am right, to be honest with you, I am not too convinced. For one simple reason: as a foreigner I can safely tell you that the USA in general is a squeaky clean country compared to many other places of this world. We have seen so many images of poor kids playing on a mountain of garbage somewhere in Bangladesh, so a picture of an American rubbish bin does not really impress. In other words if you want an impact, the rubbish must be so spectacular, it should be squeaky clear you are in real ****. So bad luck, but you have to dig deeper in your country to unearth some real gems of this theme ;) I am sure though you can find it ;). I am joking here but I hope you see what I mean. Sometimes you have an idea, you find something that can be intellectually presented within this idea or theme, but it does not nesessary mean it really has an emotional impact on others. So you need to look at it unbiased and ask youself - is it just my intellectual exersise or it really has an impact?

2/ The Composition. I think you are trying to put way too much into the frame. You know, personally I LOVE chaotic, complicated compositions where there seemingly is no main subject and my eyes wander around before I grasp the beauty of a fragile balance of all those lines and objects and colors and people.. and I think WOW. But this is is the realm of a true artist, we mere mortals need simple, clear compositions for it to work. Clear focal point, lines of vision, balance, complementing colors.. The closer and tighter you compose your shot, the easier it gets. The easier to convey emotions of a main subject(s), less distractions, clearer composition and technically easier to work with light/shadows and colors. If you look at your photos - all the people there apart fromone man are just small figures and we can not see their faces. There is a LOT of distractions - reflections in the shop windows, some object in the grass, signs, amputated figures and cars, and more cars, empty pavement, more people.. you may think: it all adds to the composition. It does not. As I said it takes a lot of skill to create coplicated compositions that actually work. Exposure wise the first shot is way too dark on the foreground and contrasty so I can barely see anything, the second shot, on the opposite, is too flat, overexposed and lacks any shadows that could add to the drama. The reason was obviously the harsh, unforgiving sunlight. Yet again - a tighter, closer shot would help to avoid these problems and create better contrasts.. I would say, again, from what I have learnt from my own experience - start with closer, simpler shots - one face, one emotion, one empty bottle, - and then make your way to more complicated compositions. And read books on composition and design, it really helps.

And do not go down on yourself: you are not a painter, you are a photographer. And a photographer is only as good as an image he can see. If it is just a garbage bin, it is a garbage bin, and more often than not you can not do anything about it, it is not your fault.

I hope it helps.
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Does the first one not look dark to the OP?

^This... badly in need of fill. And the second one is too bright and washed out in comparison (shot underexposed, and pushed in post?)

and I see it as a babies and trashcan theme??? WTF?
take out what doesn't contribute and manage the image so that people only see what you want them to.

It's not a great picture but it makes a point - however valid the point might be.

Try going to the places nice people don't talk about at posh dinners.
You'll see and photograph what most people don't want to know about.

going down on yourself is hard. The first one is so dark i didn't see the baby until second glance
Try not to be too hard on yourself, learning is a process and it can take a lot of time and practice. I'm also in the same boat where I've not posted anything in a while, largley because I'm struggling to get a photo that I'm happy enough with to post, so you are not the only one.

As for critique - as others have said the first looks quite underexposed but I think I see what you are getting at here and I like the concept and that you saw the shot is great. 2nd photo is really cool, a nice capture but the framing could be better and it looks overexposed and washed out. I think these show a lot of potential and some good concepts, albeit that a bit of work is requied on the technical and copositional elements.
Actually, if you read some actual books on composition, you'll find that there are some modest crops of the first one that produce a fairly complete classical composition. It is a bit dark, or more exactly, the shadows are a bit flat. Dark is fine, but generally you need a pretty good reason to have flat shadows as opposed to translucent ones, and I ain't seeing that here.

The second one doesn't do a thing for me. It's a stroller in the trash, so what? It's a metaphor for something? Or what?
Don't get down on yourself. I think most photographers- in fact most artists- go through plateaus. Some are predictable... like when you step out of dealing with technical issues and suddenly find yourself struggling to be more artistic. Sometimes it's good to just set the camera up on the shelf and take a break. Sometimes you need to get out to someplace new. It varies for everyone, but it's all pretty normal. At some point you'll break through it.
The second one doesn't do a thing for me. It's a stroller in the trash, so what? It's a metaphor for something? Or what?
Well since his theme is Children in America and both images are to do with children and trash, I would bet on the metaphor being that the children aren't exactly prized as they should be

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