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Critique: Getting in Close

Lesson 29 from: Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

29. Critique: Getting in Close

Lesson Info

Critique: Getting in Close

So, I've shot a lot, not a lot, but I've shot, recently, quite a bit of kids playing tennis. And so Jenna and I think that this is going somewhere really good, but it's not quite there yet. You do have some technical stuff. One of my students, can you tell me one thing? Felicia? What is it? So, the racket in the corner has been cut off, and the line of the net is going through their head. Yeah. So, how do you fix the line in the head? Go up or down. Right. In this case, I think you need a hoverboard to get up high, so let's select down. (laughing) I think down is better. Also, what will help, if you get a little bit lower to try and get their heads above the net, is now, you're even more at their point of view, their perspective, their eye level, to get low. So we have three really good moments that are all doing something differently. The girl that's having a meltdown, I'm not quite sure what has happened; we don't need to know. I like the kid that does not give a crap about h...

er having a meltdown right behind her. And then the other kid is happy, at the end. We're missing one person having a moment. And if you just kept shooting through this, I feel like it would have happened. Yeah, I got plenty of her, like, on her toes, swinging and such, but there was nothing else at that time behind her. I just didn't get them all together. Right. So you just had to keep working at it. And with this situation, you give it to the family, they're gonna freaking freak out, but it's not quite there for a portfolio photo, for me. But the fact that you're even making this photo after a year makes me really hate you. (laughing) Just so you know. In a very loving way. Because you've learned so much in a year. Like, where you're at now, we were talking about it last night, where you're at right now, at a year, is unbelievable to me, like you're seeing. So, it's just some compositional stuff, I think, as a whole, that you're gonna have to work on. So we need a little bit more room and balance on that left side, so that his racket, like Felicia said, is not being cut off. Get a little bit lower to try and get their heads above. Do you mind that he's looking off the frame, because I've-- No, because there's Seen and ready different-- Yeah, there's many, I know what you're gonna say. So she was asking, he's looking out of the frame, and one of the things is, in general the rule is you want subjects looking into the frame. It's more when you have, like, one subject, or maybe two, and you have it off-center, and you don't want the person looking up. But this is like a full moment happening, so I don't mind that he's looking off. I don't know about Jenna. 'Cause there's so many subjects, too, if you had moments happening in the frame, someone can be looking out. If you've got someone, if the whole picture is everybody looking out at something, and we don't know what they're looking at, that's when it's a problem. Yeah. Yeah, Jenna's right. I like that your approach is sort of linear, and it's almost like you have a design in mind here, as you're shooting it. Did you? Let's pretend you did. (laughing) So one thing you could do, if they're just like, the moments aren't coming together, nothing is grand about it, a) it might just not work, but b) maybe you go for a very graphically-pleasing photo of the four of them. So we wait 'til they're separated, in all different spots of the frame, instead. And we just go a bit graphic, and make a very graphic image. Yeah. Yeah, I think what Jenna's saying is, go ahead and just fill the frame here. Is that what you're saying? Or wait til they're spread out. Oh yeah. You know, make it more minimal. And I'd still get down, anyways, but that's one way to look at it. When you have so many subjects, you definitely, you wanna embrace that, which you are. Which is great, because you don't always get the four kids, right? So keeping them a design-heavy photo. The empty balls, or the lost balls down here, if you even back up a little more, if there's more, adding those in will exaggerate the failure rate that they're having, hitting the balls, right? So, Toba, I didn't realize that he was begging for the cookie. And the reason I didn't realize that is because I didn't see the cookie. Because we're only focused on him, when I think we should see the boy and the mom's reaction to each other, and then the cookie in focus as well. Now, I realize the background is horrible. Like, it's really cluttered, and so you're trying to clean up the background. But maybe we use the 85 in the house, and we clean up the background that way. Impossible (laughs) It's not possible. The kitchen was, like, three feet wide. (chuckles) Then, I think you have to get close, really close, and shoot at a 2.8. The closer you get and fill the frame with them, the more bokeh you're gonna get, the less depth of field you'll have in the background. I think that's the best way to do it. Can I just give you a little background on this photo? Yeah. So, I photographed this family, and the son had autism but was completely nonverbal, very low-functioning on the spectrum, and... I see what you mean about including more of the Nilla wafers, 'cause that's his favorite cookie. Oh, there you go! And he communicates through an iPad, so he goes, presses three buttons: I want cookie. Yeah. And then he made that face, that begging. That's all he wanted, so I see what you mean about filling the frame. And the face is adorable. It's almost, um, well here, let's just... We're over, just-- Oh yeah, OK. There's just so much we don't need here, too much. And so, then, coming from the side would be able to hone us in on that story, see the cookie right away. We saw the cookie after a few minutes of reflecting on it, but it took a second for us to find it. Right, so I always try to, with this particular boy, try to include the iPad-- But I don't think you need to-- But, to another viewer, it's not relevant at all. Yeah, to the viewer, we don't need to know that. Right, for sure. And the parents know that he uses the iPad to communicate, as well.

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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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