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Critique: Composition

Lesson 25 from: Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

25. Critique: Composition

Lesson Info

Critique: Composition

We've been talking a lot, Theresa and I have been talking a lot, all my students, about the transition and in between moments can be really good. And action and reaction. So Jenna and I both like this moment happening. We don't think that you need the mom, her whole body in it for it actually to be stronger without her body it it and that's why I had selected this crop or suggested this crop. It actually has more strength without her in it. Because now it looks intentional. Like compositionally intentional. And before it looks like you accidentally left her in half and half. Does that make sense? The settings are all great for me. It's even, I mean this is tough light to work in. Yeah, it's 1:44 pm so the light is just, it's still pretty overhead. And that's why you get that highlight on the top of the arm and the top of the back of her. So it's harder for us to get the facial expressions. What I wish is that the little girl had a little more of a reaction to the baby that's reaching f...

or the puddle. And Jenna had a suggestion about actually maybe moving your body a little and this is gonna be confusing cuz you're squared up and we'll talk about this a lot. Squaring up is really important, most of the time. And squaring up means that we're directly in front of the action and we're putting all three subjects in the same focal plane. That means like straight. So that they can all be in focus. But Jenna had an idea about a way that you could get rid of all the vehicles or at least one of them. This would be the exception to that rule, which I'm obsessed with squaring up, but in this case I feel like you could cut out the cars by angling just a little bit from the top. Because we don't really need that information. We know it's a road from the curb and the kids. It just sort of makes it busy up there, right? Yeah. So that would be the one situation. I don't like to default do that, I definitely want to keep your camera straight when you're shooting, but sometimes you tilt it and that's the good part about squaring up as a default is that when you do decide to tilt it, you know it's intentional. Yeah. Which is really important. And we're not talking about, you're still gonna have them all in the same focal plane. That's the idea. But she's saying rather than be more from the baby's perspective, point of view, like low to the ground, tilt it down, tilt your camera down so we can actually get rid of the cars. Does this make sense to you guys? I've got sort of one for this, too. Okay. Of Scott's daughter hopscotching. This one. Oh yes. Cuz the cars in the background of this photo are irrelevant so it's the same sort of situation. So I, if you're approaching it this way, you always start that way and then you can decide, does this compositionally require me to change my body at all? And some of this is gonna come in time. For the more advanced shooters, I really stress once you start seeing moments and you can understand composition, basic composition, then you need to start training your eye while you're shooting to take your eye off the subject that is in focus and start looking behind your subject because you need to start cleaning up your compositions. You're trusting that the moment is still happening on the person you're in focus with, but you don't have to visually focus on them the whole time. You can visually leave them and look behind your subjects to make sure that it's clean, that there's people not behind them, that trees aren't coming out of their heads, and that's when you just start making micro adjustments. So for Jenna, she probably started out very squared up and then was like ooh, these cars really suck. So she then, because she's looked behind her subject and then she starts to change the perspective a little bit to try and cut them out. Does that make sense? And even just to go a step further. Where I actually started too, was right close to her. And it didn't quite isolate her how I wanted and so then I backed up to make those decisions. One thing that you always talk about is repetitive moments, right? Yes. And that because things are repetitive and you're watching your subjects almost peripheral like you were saying, you have that opportunity to adjust as your shooting. And because you're taking lots of pictures, intentionally, you can constantly be changing them small amounts to make the perfect composition. And cars in general, you know, they're a pain in the butt so you kind of just-- And they're ugly. If you see cars, get them out, try to figure out how to get them out. That can be a good default.

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Ratings and Reviews


Kirsten is an incredible teacher. When deciding whether to purchase this class, you should first take a look at her first CL class--Modern Storytelling. It's the best way to dive into this material and is a good starting point. If you're interested in this genre, buy BOTH classes. Both are so packed with helpful information about the family photojournalism genre. The first class was a solid, well rounded introduction to family photojournalism, and this class is more in-depth, specific, direct, intense, full of composition technique, and really just takes it to a new level. She doesn't waste time in this class repeating all of what she taught the first time. Kirsten is very candid and personable which I find really helps us viewers learn from her authentically and enjoy the class. I feel like I know her from watching so much of her class and I know that helped me to connect with the class and understand the material better. I feel like I finally have the tools to really tackle this genre and a better idea of what I'll face. I HIGHLY recommend this class--BUT only if you have an interest in this type of photography. THIS ISN'T A CLASS ABOUT MAKING PRETTY PICTURES, IT'S A CLASS ABOUT CAPTURING REAL MOMENTS IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY AND STORYTELLING THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY.

Image by Marcy

I'm adding my review in hopes of giving some perspective to the few negative comments. I've been a fan since Kirsten's first course, and have been hankering for more ever since. I wish the viewers who decided to jump ship before watching the whole course had reconsidered, and hung in there. Here's why. Kirsten describes this class as more of an "advanced" class. To my way of thinking, it's an excellent adjunct to the first. I took notice of a good bit of the questions in the chat room on CL while the class was live. It was clear to me that there seemed to be plenty of viewers who had not watched the first based on their questions. To get the most benefit, you really need both courses. There is overlapping content, of course. But there is specific and pointed information that was really only generalized in the first course. Invaluable is the segments that were taped live at a family's home, where Kirsten shot a DiTL. That filming was shown and dissected in this new course. VERY informative. To put it succinctly, yes, there is some repetitive info, but necessary to bring it all together, and yes, new content. YES, the front end is a bit heavy on the personal. If I remember correctly, that viewer choose NOT to stick with the program, which is fine. BUT, had they stuck with it, that person might have had a change of heart. You see, I think you have to take all the information in it's entirety. Because, the openness, the vulnerability, the honestly to me is *endearing*, for one thing. But also, she definitely USES that personal information in the context of her teaching. Listening to her personal experiences (KLB's) gives US an opportunity to look deep within OURSELVES and CONFRONT our own past. OUR PAST is what shapes our future, good, bad or indifferent. We can allow our past to propel us to success, or sink us in despair. Either way, our past helps form our POV which is very important for our photography (as well as how we approach or avoid life in general, and affects us in business too...) I appreciate her honesty. I appreciate how she shares her struggles, both past and present. Both personally and professionally. For me, the whole package is more important that the individual "pieces". Who knows about that viewer.... maybe this genre is just not their thing. Maybe that person wants or needs to shield themselves from their own personal issues. IDK. Also, it's just a fact of life that *not everyone will LIKE .... ___ (you, me, her, etc). Whooo knows. That's their right, their choice. And it's true that this genre is not for everyone. But if you love it, then get the course. If you missed the first one, then get them both. You'll be happy you did, and you'll have saved yourself time and frustration trying to figure this out on your own.

Meredith Zinner Photography

She is outstanding. I love her candor, honestly, openness and extraordinary eye for talent. I love how true she is to herself and how fiercely yet seamlessly she works to show the truth and people's real stories. I love how she is a real person and shares true stories about herself that keeps her human. I'm so tired of this culture being so damn 'precious' about a baby's bottom fer crimmeny's sake... she's extraordinary, refreshing and unlike anything else youve shown. She's got an incredible eye, sense of humour, talent and so much to share with her very thankful audience. Thank you so very much! Thank you Kirsten!

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