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Lesson 48 from: Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing

Bella Kotak, Pratik Naik

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Lesson Info

48. Critique


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Artistic Vision and Inspiration


Personal Projects


Creative Motivation and Defining Your Story


Organizing Your Inspiration


Building A Character


Creating Wardrobe and Props


Location Scouting


Lesson Info


So, in this segment, we have students from all over the world submit their images, and I want to talk a little bit about what we're looking at when we see these photos, and if there's anything to improve on, and what examples we can use from them. So, we have this image from Rejean Brandt, who I personally really love just because of a few things. There's a lot of bella-esque features about this image in the sense of motion, sense of fiery color, sense of retouching has a balance to it that we've done. What do you think? I think it looks amazing. I think there's a really great understanding of light. The only critique that I would probably have is that when I look it, my eye automatically is going to the middle of the image, which is where her arm is. Right. I feel like the light there is a little bit of a hotspot. So, I dunno, if you want the attention to go on the arm, that's up to you. But I probably would have had the attention go probably more to the face than to the body. ...

That's so true. Yeah, but overall, the vision of it? Stunning. It's very graphic, it's very, the movement's fantastic, it makes you want to think about flowers and stuff like that so I think that's really, really stunning. And the color toning is on point as well. So my only critique would probably just be that hotspot. Agreed. I think everything else is phenomenal about it. And the details are all still there. That's the only thing that I would be concerned about, is making sure that if there's any details that are blown out from the highlights try to recover them, or at least bring them back so it's not completely at zero if they are, in fact, blown out. Okay, next. I just wanted to mention to folks at home and to you that some of them might be a lower resolution and so, in terms in what we're critiquing, we won't be looking specifically at that. Absolutely. We're not judging them on the low file format. That's a good point, though, yeah. So, Kathleen Koffler. Would you want to take this one, Bella? Sure, I think it's beautiful. It almost looks like a cross between and a painting and a picture, doesn't it? Yeah, it does. I think, for me, this is more of a painting than a picture. That's the biggest problem for me. It's maybe an artistic preference, but sometimes you are not really sure if this was painted or a photograph. And, that' my biggest take of it. If it's a photograph, I want it to be a photograph. If it's a painting, I want it to be a painting. But as a digital art piece, I think it looks very interesting. I agree. I think it does look very arranged. Have you look on this screen as well. I love the colors. She's going for very muted color tones. And there's a good balance I think between the blues and yeah, the shades of blues and violet that she's got going there. The one thing that I did notice, on the hand itself, it looks like maybe there's a masking issue with the dress itself is overlaying on the fingers or if it's something she tried adding in composite. So maybe tightening up some of those elements would be quite interesting. And also some liquefy notes, like maybe on the top of the head. It's not really an even shape where the top is, where the hair, you can see some bulges. I'd fix something like that as well. Okay. So, some of these are from our in-studio audience. Oh! All right! So Kathleen, if you want to give us some background on this one. That would be awesome. Okay, yeah, this is from a transition obviously. I was kinda going for a painterly sort of- Yeah. Absolutely. And I do very much appreciate the critique. Um, yeah. I just wanted to do something more flowy because her dress wasn't very flowy. And I do like to offer my clients a look that's a little bit different than just your standard, just ... photographs. Well, you can really see the painterly influence. Do you use textures? Yes I do. Yeah, you can see that. I kinda like it. I personally didn't have a problem with it, just saying. But - (laughs) But I did like it. I do believe that maybe we liquified around the head and just what happened over here with the hand, the little masking thing there. Right. But the colors you invite- everything is balanced. I think that's the only two things to improve. That's a compliment. Thank you. And especially if your style stays the same through your whole book, then that's perfect. Yeah, then that's your style. And just make sure it's a consistent style, and not a varied style throughout your whole book, because then eyes don't know what they're having. Perfect. Thank you. So this is from Velly Garcia. Right. So this is a Velly image? Actually, I really like this image, just because it has the same elements we've been talking about before: the center of composition, frame, the contrast with the colors. They are just striking. There is also a mood, and it is very evocative in that sense. I think, I don't really see anything that I would critique. Maybe, let's see here. Well, really, we'd have to pick into it. Yeah. This is really something that is really difficult. I personally really like everything about this. Yeah, Verny, good job. (laughs) Yeah, Verny, I've seen this work before because he's in my Facebook group. Oh, good. Yeah, and he's always showing his work there. I like it. I like his color toning. I think he has a very Lumit aesthetic and he's basically taken over by many of the points that I would have also said, the neutral tone of the white of the dress connecting to the white of the flowers and the bows in the hair creating a very similar aesthetic effect. Yeah, great job. I think it's beautiful. There is one thing that I, just to nitpick here, that in the shadows, it's a little too dark. I'm not sure if it's just a screen or maybe it's on the actual photo. So if you have any shadows that are crushed or getting close to being clipped, which I would try and bring back more information there. But aside from that, good job. Yeah, good job. = [Host] Okay, and this is from Adan Cozmel. Cotzmel? Yeah, how do you pronounce that Adan? Grace? Yeah. (laughter) There's the reason I go by Adan Grace. (laughter) It's Gotzmer. Gotzmer. Okay. Yeah, what do you think? I really love some of those details that you intentionally put in there, like the butterflies, the dress details itself are really striking, those are some of the small things. Even the way that the hair is coming over the shoulders, really nice, it's not perfectly clean, it's a little messy, but it shows the illusion of movement as well. The one thing that I would fix though, is the under eyes. There's a lot more lines, and you cleaned up a lot of the face. If you leave some of the lines, and the lines end up coming out a little bit too much. Given the style of it, that's pretty much the only critique I have of it. Did you by chance do any compositing? Since it's from left frame, or was it just shot that way? We were shooting in a bush. Oh. It's all in frame. That's great. I have a critique. Sorry, Adan. Don't be sorry. That's why we're doing it this way. All right. Mine would be that the headpiece, is off centered. The one thing that is not balanced, it is way too distracting, and match the mood. The headpiece not being centered, it would just take a little extra time and just straighten it up, and try to fix that as well. Other than that, I think that's the only thing that was distracting. And I was going to give you very much a perfect sign, And it would be kind cool if we had some of the information hiding in the shadows. It wouldn't have to be a lot of detail, just enough so that we know there's something there. Because it goes from black picture to black. Right. Yeah. And there's one other thing. The lips are a little bit too dry. I'd fix some of the cracks in the lips to fill them out a bit so they don't give attention to them as well. Aside from that, the framing, the concept is really beautiful. Yeah, it's beautiful. All right. This is from David Parish. Oh wow. Okay, so this something I remember seeing before. And I remember browsing through my news scan, and stopping on this image because it's extremely striking and the concept is really cool and the fact that use of different color elements. There are some things that do bother me, like on the base. I probably would have fixed that baseline where there's some cracks on the right but it's a solid line on the left. Those things always bother me because I always they always end up fixing things and they want that fixed. I don't know if that's intentional or not. I'm assuming that is. But aside from that, that's just nitpicking. I don't like the pose of the girl on the left. I think she's, she could have been a little bit stronger compared to the one on the right. I don't know that, I think she looks sass. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's great and the colors are fantastic. The only thing I would find a little bit distracting, the dirt behind the girl on the right, on the shoulder. I don't know why. Once I noticed that, it's like, I think it's just a bit too dark. I'd probably just subdue that a little bit. Just because you don't want the eye to really go to that dirt. The dirt is just as an accent. Right. And there's a bit of dirt on the- I think you've got it darker than the other smudges up there, or whatever that is. But other than that- I really like his idea of set decoration. And even his choice of actually using that baggage was really cool, because it has bold resemblance that the rest of the wardrobe does as the tree in the background outlines. Yeah. Plus the bag's pushing forward so I feel like something's happening. Right Okay. I really like images like this because its very storytelling. It looks like a 3-D piece where it's not too flat. She's going the direction, we can watching her going and coming from. And there's smoke blowing. And for that reason, I really like the shot. There's a little bit of detail I would have brought out maybe in the shadows of the shirt, or something like that, because I think the balance is just a little bit off. But it's just a small thing. I think everything else looks pretty good to me. And the hair might be a little bit too bright so that attention's going there and competing against the face, maybe. Yeah. But that's my thoughts. Yeah, I think an artist seizes a little bit of the light in the eyes. They are like really light in the eyes. And so I kinda wonder, if there is so much light going into the eyes, why isn't that light hitting the face as well? So it just seems a bit out of balance to me. Whereas, if the eyes were a bit darker to match the light of the face a little bit more it would just make it a bit more balanced. But, yeah. Because the eyes are lighter so your eyes go directly to the face. So yeah, then you could probably then consider the face a little bit more. Because if you draw them to the image, you want to make sure it's on point. What do you think about the concept? It's cool. I think it's great. I really like the fact that she's a little bit dirty, she's like, all mushed up, and I like the lines of her stick as well. There's a name for it, but I can't remember. Because your eyes light right into it. I can't remember that. It seems like a little overlightening of the eyes, okay. Great. So, Darlene Parks. Yeah, what's that mean? I don't actually like this one. Because I think it's too monotone in the sense where it's too yellow across the entire image. And number two, it's two textural. The highlights are a little blown. And it's just losing all detail or actual story. Everything is a little bit flat, I think for me. Okay. So I think it's kinda interesting. I think it looks like you were going for a kinda a full tone, or a vintage vibe. I think it's a bit too noisy, because I'm always a little bit distracted from the actual image. So, yeah. That would be in my mind if I were here in the studio. So vibes I see, It's a little too noisy, maybe, from the image, which is actually a very beautiful image. And it's a gorgeous mood, doesn't it? You have the hay, the lady, she's powerfully beautiful, but it's a bit too noisy. I think if you pull the filter back itself, it would look really interesting. You would see more elements and the colors coming through. Yeah. So. Other than that, the composition is very cool, and the mood you captured very cool as well. This is from my friend Savannah Dells. What do you think? How would you critique it? Actually, I really like this photo because it's so simple and the fact that the composition itself is really interesting. I wonder if she was inspired by similar things, where there's moving the hair but she's still static. You don't really know if she was standing or sleeping, I don't know. It's really interesting to me. Yeah, I think this one, I don't know whether she's compositing the hair. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. And that's a good sign. If you don't know whether the hair has been composited or not because you can't really tell. I think that's a job well done. And the one thing I would probably say is some of the details in the shadows of the hair, maybe, you can see them here, but you can't seem them there. So that's a miniature thing. So we're not 100% sure, but if the details are lost, make sure they are recovered. But aside from that, the skin details look good from this angle. Maybe need a closer inspection, but everything for me has been really balanced. Yeah, the skin tone here, that's where the center is, fairly light balanced as well. Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for joining us. And I really hope you've enjoyed everything we've covered in this class. Yes, feel free to reach out to us, because we both are on social media on so many platforms, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and- Carrier pigeon. Carrier pigeon. All of them. First of all, if you have any questions, be sure and reach out to us. And if you want to know more, check out the Face class. You've got classes live here as well. So check out my web site. It has everything you need to know, as well. And Instagram as well, has a lot of stuff we like to share, and content, and all the things we're up to. We like sharing other people's work as well. We do. And we like to build a community as well around us of creatives, so that's why I have his book on Facebook. It's called Fairy Tales and Advice by Pratik Naik And feel free to join us on there because we always have some great images and conversations and also we'd like to think of it as bringing together a group of people who like the same interests and ways to chat to connect with people from all over the world. Exactly. A tour out there, basically. Thank you guys so much. Thank you. It's been amazing. Yeah. Cannot thank you enough. Very happy to be here.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Practice PSD File - Sleeping Beauty
Pratik Naik Retouching Actions
The Royal Collection - Fine Art Actions
Practice PSD File - Location Shoot (~700mb)
Practice PSD File - In Studio Shoot (~1.3gb)

Ratings and Reviews


Great class and great instructors. Genuine and informative. Practical tips to create stunning images. Seeing them work through the process from shoot to finished image was great and I loved that they shared the thought processes behind the creative decisions. Definitely recommended!


Truly a remarkable duo. Bella is so down-to-earth and humble for a photographer with such a strong beautiful and ethereal voice. Her explanations of her process really inspired me--I was sketching concepts throughout the class. Pratik's process really opened my eyes to "smart" retouching--understanding what can be done in fewer brush strokes and slimmer PS files. All in all a really unique and inspiring class that makes me excited to realize my next conceptual shoot. They're also adorable together!

Mai Her

I've gained sooooo much from this I can't even contain my appreciation and excitement! So much inspiration and so much generous advice and tips to help me! Thank you so much Bella and Pratik and Creative Live!

Student Work