Photo Critiques Images 1 through 10
So let's get started. And this is my very first image of the day. Chin, shoulder, hands. Chin is engaged. Shoulder is not relevant in the shot because I can't see it. That hand, the choice to put a hand up into the image is something that I keep saying to people, don't bring hands up into the image if it doesn't need to be there. This one is perfect. It just sits in there nicely. It would have worked with or without that hand there. It neither offends me or doesn't. It can get, hands can just, I want you to watch your hands. This has been something that I've seen over and over again of hands coming up into the image that don't need to be there. Hourglass is not applicable, neither is body language. The asymmetry of this image, meaning shot to the left, perfect for me. Connection, outstanding. 10 out of 10. Focus is excellent. Expression is perfect. Okay, this is where I want to be. Relaxed mouth, tiny little smile in the eyes. I like how high key this is. This has obviously been shot l...
ike that. So the composition is perfect. The Photoshop, for me, excellent. And hair and makeup, outstanding. Overall, I have to give that a five out of five. If one of my photographers were producing this, I would be really, really pleased with it. So the only thing I'm going to pull out of this is watch those hands. If the hands don't need to be there, they don't need to be in the shot at all. Take them down, just do a beautiful shot of the face. But I think that that works. This is a very common shot for me. It's a common shot that I always take and it's a really common shot that I see all photographers take. So we're on slide number two. Chin is down, it's perfect. Shoulder is working, which is outstanding. Hands, great. The only thing I'm going to say about the hands is the right hand on the back. If you're going to take the hand up high to the waist, you need to include the elbow from the front composition. Really, really important when we tuck our elbow that we're following the line of the body around here. We always want to follow the line of the body in order to get the hourglass. If you bring the hand up to here and tuck back, you're going to get what I call is that little T-rex hands. You want to be careful that little hands aren't just popping in from the side. Otherwise, I wouldn't fault this. I would have really loved it if her back right hand was in her pocket and pulled back. I love how that shoulder is working. Outstanding body language, okay, because she is working her shoulder. So to me, it's confident and it's working. I'd be happy with that. Connection is excellent, focus is perfect, expression is excellent. Composition, absolutely spot on. You wouldn't really want to be anywhere else. Of course, you could do one, two, three, four, five. I'm going to talk about that composition before lunch, because it's a really good tip. Focus is good, expression is good, composition is good. Photoshop. Photoshop is great. We've got to watch we don't get too many white faces. This is something I've been working on for many years. Try and even out that exposure. You can do that. I know it's hard when the light's hitting the face, you're exposing for the face. So it's something I correct in Photoshop all of the time. So maybe we can look at layer masking, just bringing the face back a couple of stops. Hair and makeup is excellent. She looks really good. And overall, I've got to give that a four out of five because that's exactly what I'd sell in my studio. We're going to slide number three. Okay, chin, perfect. It's fallen down. Shoulder, it's not applicable. Hands are perfect. I like how her hands have opened up. She's obviously laughing. So the hands move when we laugh and use expressions, so I really feel like she's just popped her hands up. She's laughing. I like the flower in the short hair, it's beautiful. Body language is good. Asymmetry, yes, it was slightly to the right. It's not shot in the center, 'cause I hate that passport shot. Keeping your asymmetry left and right is perfect. Connection, excellent. She's looking right into that camera. She's got a genuine, true smile. Focus is great, expression is perfect, composition is good. Photoshop, yes. I'm going to go back up. I want you to go into your RAW window, when you're shooting RAW on the backlight, and I want you to drop, take the recovery up on the right hand side on the RAW window. If you're processing in Photoshop, the RAW window is so incredible for that Recovery tool. The backlight can hit that really high light on either side. I know that the computer screen can blow that out and we're a lot darker here than what I'm seeing. So just watch the high key lights here and here. It would work better if you have the reflector back to the face, like straight back to the client, so that you're getting a really flat light to the face instead of illuminating from the sides. So just bring that around. Other than that, I would give that a four out of five because that is definitely a portrait that I would sell in my studio. I'm on slide number four. Okay, chin, chin has fallen down. Shoulder, not really applicable. Hands, the hands are up. It is, for me, what really bothers me about bringing the arms up over the head is armpits. And you can't see her armpits because of her dress. I tend to, when I do bring the hands up, I tend to connect them to the head or the diamond in some way. Remember, I'm always posing around the diamond. Just be aware that when your hands are around the diamond, they're not up and above it, they're kind of engaged to the head. For me, if you want to create body language, they need to be connected to the body. The only time I would either have the hands lounging is when they were lying back on a bed or an ottoman. So touching the tree kind of doesn't work for me in terms of hands, but what I love about this image is I like the chin, I like the connection, I like the asymmetry. She's even got a bit of an hourglass. You could have given a little bit more waist in there. Because we want to have that gorgeous waist. I just feel like if her hands were a little bit more connected to her head, then it would have been more of a pose than maybe lying back with arms up. So I just want to make sure that we are connecting always to the diamond. Connection is outstanding, focus is great. And it's a beautifully, beautifully exposed shot. Expression is good, composition, Photoshop. Hair and makeup is beautiful. Overall, I'm going to give that a three out of five. Because, the reason I'm pulling it down is I don't believe that pose. And you know what I'm like, when it comes down to believing it, at the end of the day I can create the posing, I can create everything, but I want to believe it. I want to believe that she is the most gorgeous woman in the world and she's just lying in this beautiful setting. I don't want to see hands in a way that make me feel like I don't believe it. So that's a really, really big one for me. I'm going to slide five. All right, chin, perfect. Chin forward, we're all getting this chin down. I'm absolutely loving that. Okay, chin. Shoulder could be working more. So she could have had a little bit more work on her body. Hands are excellent. It's very hard to get elegant hands when we're moving fabric. Somebody is obviously throwing for you, which is outstanding. I tend to not post images where the fabric throws up over the head myself, but because it is really distracting, I've stopped looking at her face and I am drawn to the fabric on the right. Okay, so that's a really big one for me. The body language, to me, is like her face and expression is quite fashion. But if her expression is going to be that fashion, her chin needed to be higher. So we tend to do two things in glamor and beauty photography. We tend to either have the full body language of the pose, which would be working the body and then working that expression there or we tend to be really fashion and then pop that chin up so it's a real fashion model. But when I do the fashion model, I tend to bring the body symmetrical like a fashion pose. Because then I think fashion models are definitely more asymmetrical front-on to the camera with that chin up, with that really straight fashion expression. So just make sure you're either working the body with body language or you're being more fashion. But not sort of a hybrid in between. Okay, connection, it could have been stronger. You could have changed that, but I would go. Focus is excellent, composition, great. Sitting exactly where I want to be. I would have rather gotten the fabric coming down a little bit, but I get it. Hands are beautiful. Photoshop, again, those highlights through her chest and decolletage are too dark and light. You really need to even that out. So you could have evened that out on Photoshop just because it's pulling me away from her face. So I want to go back up to her face and be really locked in there. I would love to see the rest of the series of this so I could comment, but overall I'm going to go three out of five. Because it's a good image, it's a sellable image, and I know it's one that the client would have bought. Okay, chin, chin forward and down. Shoulder, we've got our shoulder working. Could have been working a little bit more, but that's okay. We've got our shoulder in there. The importance of the shoulder. One thing you will notice in my work is the constant working of the front shoulder. You know that that front shoulder needs to be connected in order to change the dynamic of the expression, pose, and body language. I want to see more people using the front shoulder. Remember, lifting up tall. Bring your chin around to me, working the front shoulder. Bring your chin around to me, working the front shoulder. Okay. Hands are good, but I don't want to see any weight on the hands here. So I don't want to see the chin or the cheek compromised at all by the weight of the hand. I want to see the chin lifted up and sitting perfectly down onto that hand. This is a faux hand, okay? It is not here to lean. I know it looks casual when they lean into ti, and I know that it is something that you sit into, but what's important is that we're not moving the face with the hand. So we're not bunching that chin up. Okay, there's two things that I struggle with in this image because the focus is strong, the Photoshop is good, although the highlights are all very blown out. So I would have liked to have seen it a little bit flatter. The hair is beautiful, the makeup is beautiful, the expression is beautiful. I felt like she was lying on her tummy and she's under a table. That V in the background sits right on her back line. And because you can't differentiate, I think she's sitting up. But to me, it looked like she was lying down and coming out of that background. So just watch your background. And maybe what you could have done is just put a little bit of separation between the black and the V behind her, because I kind of felt like she was lying down. I'm going to give this a three out of five. But to be honest with you, I could probably take this to a four and a half if I had Photoshopped it because I would have dropped all those highlights out, given her some separation in the back, and it would have been a beautiful sellable image. So still really good. Okay, I'm on slide seven. So, chin is fallen down. Shoulder, shoulder is present and it's rounded and it's defined. It could have come in a little wee bit more. It just makes it a little bit sexier. And remember, I'm all about that front shoulder. Hands are really great. The hand that's touching the back of her hair is perfect except for, remember my rule. The hand doesn't go under the hair, the hand goes behind the hair if it's going to rest on the head and it's not going to touch the face. So if it's going to touch the face here, then it can touch here or touch the cheek or bring it into here. But generally, my rule of thumb is that if it's going to be there, I want it behind the hair. This hand in the front is a fist. Remember we have fist, claw, and thunder bird. So we have the fist, we have the claw, and then we have the thunder bird hand. And what I want is to have ballet hands. So I watch for that fist all the time. Relax your hands, turn them down flat, lift them off the table, ballet hands. Okay, so take this hand behind your head. Work that front shoulder. Good girl. Eyes to me, tiny little smile in your eyes. So this is how I would have redirected this pose. I also know that this is a beautiful image in the sense that I bet you she loved it and I bet you she bought it. These are such basic picky critiques. I mean, changing the hands and the shoulders is so simple, but this is how we learn to constantly repeat those rules so that we're not breaking those really basic rules. At the end of the day, sharpness and exposure and expression trumps a basic pose critique like that. But it's still really, really important that we're taking it to that next level. I'm going to give that a, I'm going to give it a four because I know how sellable that is.
Excuse me Sue, can you say that again? Lighting and exposure? What did you say? Focus and exposure and what else trump posing?
What was the third one?
Well I can't focus an image on Photoshop. So if it's out of focus, you're screwed.
Okay, fair enough.
And I cannot, I cannot get a perfect exposure. I can get two stops either way on a RAW image, but if you blow out that exposure and lose information and highlights or you just haven't nailed the exposure, I can't get that back. But at the end of the day, what I can fix, I can fix so much on Photoshop. But I just can't fix that sharpness and that expression. So the expression of this image and the connection that I have with that girl, because the more I look at it, the more her eyes engage me and the more I know that I'm engaged with her. Then at the end of the day, that's gonna win because she will buy that because she won't know anything about hands. But even the basic human being knows something that's out of focus and something that's badly lit. And so, but they don't know basic rules like put the hand behind the hair and do things like that. So at the end of the day, the connection is gonna win. I've heard people quote that on Photoshop and it really annoys me if somebody posts an image that's not technically good, like it's out of focus and somebody's written Sue says expression trumps everything else. But come on, you're professional photographers. It's not going to trump a sharp image or a well exposed image. So you can get away with a lot, but you've got to give me some good expression, you've got to give me a good exposure. I'm on slide number eight. Chin. Chin is on, mom is forward, on daughter there's not a lot of chin definition here. Shoulder, yes, both of them are semi-engaged in their shoulder enough to make that sort of the love heart V. The problem with this image is it's been shot too far to the left. So both girls need to rotate. I've got both girls here. Come and I'll show you something really basic that I teach whenever I'm shooting two people. So if you stand in a V with your back hands around each other towards each other. More in V like that, Nikki. And then, yeah yeah yeah. Now come forward, come forward. And then hold elbows in the front. Okay, so when I shoot this image, the first thing I do is put your chin out to your shoulder on both sides, yeah. I bring their chin to their shoulder first and then I push their cheeks together. Okay, so that's what these girls are not doing in this image, so they're not engaged. If they pull away, one thing that's really important is I don't say heads together, 'cause then they tip the top of their heads together. And that's not what we want. What we want is for them to go straight, work their shoulder from the front, and then connect their cheek. Now don't go in with your chin. Okay, so they have to be straight. Another thing is this is shot on this angle, so she's opened up. And this is shot with the daughter too far this way. You've got to make sure you bring them both open to the camera. It's a very symmetrical pose in the sense that you're creating a love heart. So whether it's sisters, a mother or daughter, best friends, not a couple, because a couple have to be joined at their hips, then this is why we need to make this pose work. So the mom's reaching out that way. And that, sorry, the daughter is reaching out that way and the mom's shoulder is open. And then they're both shot too far this way. The daughter's chin is not engaged to the front of the camera. So all they had to do was bring them back to the camera like that and then bring their chin to their own shoulder and then tip towards each other at the top of their head without tipping in. And you would just nail this love heart. Thanks girls. So what it comes down to is the chin connects to the shoulder, the shoulder connects the love heart together. The hourglass comes from the outside of the shoulder, comes down to the waist. We bring the elbow forward, we connect at the elbow in the front, which creates that beautiful love heart, which gives you a double hourglass. The body language is that they're together and they're tipped towards each other but they're not awkwardly standing together like two Barbie dolls. They're connected because they're mother and daughter. They're holding each other. They're working their front shoulders. Their expression is there. This is what we're trying to get here. And saying that the interesting thing is both girls are genuinely smiling and that makes it a sellable shot. Composition-wise, daughter is way off to the left so her hair is not in the image. So we need to bring that in. All this would have taken is a little bit of movement from the photographer to step back, slow down a little bit, engage the shoulder, bring their heads together. Okay? But in saying that, still got connection.
So AppFeelGood had asked, what about not having the whole arms in the photo? Do you mind the crop on the bottom, that their arms are cut off on the bottom?
That does not bother me at all. In fact, to me often I will crop right to the bottom of the elbow because it stops you from looking down there and then brings your attention to the face. Right now, you're not looking at their faces, you're looking off to the left of the image. I'm always interested in where my eyes are drawn in an image and if they're drawn away from the eyes, then there's something going on in that shot that should not be happening. So when you look at your own image, I want you to see, why am I drawn away from this image? Why am I not looking at that girl's face? Somebody posted a shot on In Bed With Sue the other day and you did not look at this girl's face. You looked at this girl's boobs. It was like the entire center focus of the image was around her breasts. And it was so interesting because it just, it was like, why? Why are you drawn there? Because you need to bring the face and the diamond back into the single most important part and focal point of your image. I'm on slide number nine. Okay, chin. That chin is not forward and down as good as it could be. Shoulder is not dropped. So remember, with curves we don't so much want to bring the shoulder forward because we block out necks and chins and shoulders when we bring the shoulder forward with curves. The idea with this one is that her shoulder opens up and drops down. Her weight goes on her back foot and then she drops down this way. Okay, so she needed to have her shoulder down 45 to the camera. 45 that way to the camera, not opened up sideways to the camera. Because we're not doing anything for her tummy and waistline when we open her up this way. Because when we turn her this way, we're pushing her midriff towards the camera instead of away from it, which will make it smaller. So she didn't need to be tipped forward as much as tipped backwards and sideways with her booty. And then pushing that chin forward, making that chin work. This is a beautiful image of this woman. I love her hair and makeup. I think it's Photoshopped well. The focal point in this image goes to her belly. Okay, that means that her belly was pushing towards the camera more than her face was. So as soon as we take her belly out of the camera and drop it back, then we can push her chin forward. Drop her chin forward and focus on those eyes. She has a beautiful face, her hair and makeup is lovely, and I like that little smile. I can see her eyes connected to the camera. But you could have made this girl look hot. And right now, I'm still looking at her body. And I don't want her as a client to look at this image and go, I'm not buying this. I think I look fat, I'm not buying this. I want her to look at that and just go oh my god. Now hourglass-wise, she's rocking the boobs and the waistline. But unfortunately, we just needed to rock her hips back on that back foot because I can see it's projected forward. So lots of weight on the back foot. Remember with curvy girls, it's not about shooting higher than them. It's about putting this foot back here in the 45 degrees position. It's about taking that back there. Okay, so I want to see this movement here. Everyone practice this at home. All right, chin. Yes, forward and down. Shoulder, yes, shoulder is working. Hands, yes, hands beautiful. Good ballet hands, nice and simple. Hourglass body language, yeah I get this body language. I think it's soft. She's not sitting into her hand, which is perfect. So I do have to give hands five out of five when I see good hands. Hands are hard to pose and it's very, very important that we pose them. There's good expression, there's good connection. And composition-wise, the only thing I would fault in this pose is her elbow is forward. And I really like it to be in a little bit and her lift it up to make her look longer and higher. But the hands work, the expression works. This is a really simple image. I'm going to give this three on the Photoshop. If I had finished this image, I think I could have just evened it out, flattened it down a little bit more, given it a little bit more spunk. I just would have liked to have taken this to the best level on Photoshop. But I really like it. To me, that's a four out of five. And that's a really good sellable portrait image. So, hands rock. Overall, hair and makeup is lovely. Nice and simple, not too over glam, not too over made up. Good composition. Just a little bit more lifting up in the sitting poses. Come here, Nikki. Something that's really important I want to see a little bit more of, is kneel down behind there. And elbows on there. This is the biggest problem. Everybody goes forward with their elbows first and it just doesn't work. Just turn your body towards this camera, 'cause it needs to kind of come down. So first of all, we bring our elbows underneath our shoulders. So you slide your elbows back. Then we lift up as tall as we can. So see how long we just made her? So when she was forward and down, bring your arms forward, she was down there. Arms look shorter. The more she brings them in up under her shoulders, so bring them right up under your shoulders, your elbows. And then the second thing is we bring them inside the body line. Because as soon as we bring the elbows in, that's her waistline carved straight in there. Now the more we can get these elbows under here and away from the camera, then the more I can shape her body from the front and lengthen her right out. So this is where we look at this pose and we say bring your elbows back under your shoulders, lift up nice and tall, that's it. Bring your chin forward and down and there's your image there. Then you can bring the ands up to the face. As soon as you bring this hand up, leave the elbow on the ottoman and bring this hand up to your cheek. And bring your elbow in. So we bring the elbow back to the center, we lift up nice and tall, and then we touch through our expressions there. Nice and long and they grow about five inches and they get slimmer through the waistline. So lots more length in the ottoman and making sure your reflector is bringing flatter light back to the face. Okay, thanks Nikki. All right?
Wow, so it's such an amazingly helpful thing to visually see this happening.
It's so basic. And most people who shoot with me realize how close they are to what I'm doing, but they don't realize how basic the critique is, or how basic something like that, just a little movement like that can make a significant difference between a really great shot. Again, are these things that a client will and won't like? Well I'll tell you one thing that I know to be true. After nearly 25 years shooting women's portraits, a woman will not buy a photograph unless it's a really good photograph of her. She wants to look a little bit younger, a little bit slimmer, and gorgeous. Okay, that's all she requires. A little bit younger, a little bit slimmer, and gorgeous. We are always trying to accentuate the waistline. We are always trying to flatter the body to the best of that body's shape. And then we're always trying to catch a true expression and believable posing that looks more like body language than posing. When you can do that, you are nailing sellable shoots every single time.