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The Business of Photography

Lesson 22 of 22

Image Critique

Nigel Barker

The Business of Photography

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

22. Image Critique


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:12:46
2 The Early Years Duration:24:31
4 Developing Your Style Duration:12:57
5 Creating Your Brand Duration:11:03
6 Confidence Duration:11:20
7 Personal Work Duration:08:21
8 Marketing Duration:12:14
10 Side Lighting Duration:08:30
11 Hollywood Lighting Duration:10:27
12 Dancer Lighting Duration:08:50
13 Editorial Lighting Duration:09:06
14 Tunnel of Light Duration:12:24
15 Back Light Duration:06:09
16 Image Review Duration:06:03
18 Connection Duration:09:31
19 Provoking Reaction Duration:11:11
21 Raw Series - Image Review Duration:08:57
22 Image Critique Duration:1:01:29

Lesson Info

Image Critique

Well my number one thing I tell people when they ask me to look at their work is I'm like listen, I'll give you my critique, but it doesn't mean that I'm right. It's my opinion. That's it. You still have to love your work. Just because I like it, or I don't like it, doesn't make it wrong, doesn't make it right. You've all seen photographs that you don't care for, and for some reason someone else really likes it. Certain type of style, certain type of look, a different hair color, a hairstyle, clothing. It's all an opinion. So, again I'll give my opinion and I'll give my critique of what I see. But you have to also make your own mind up. And I haven't seen by the way, I have not seen these pictures. So this is very exciting for me. And they asked me if I wanted to see them already. They said oh we can show them to you, but I wanted to go very raw myself. Lauren. You're in studio. How are you Lauren? Good. Nervous (laughs). I want, before I say anything, because you're here, it'd be ...

great to have you, actually you know what? I'm gonna change that. I was gonna let you explain. I'm not. I'm gonna let you explain in a second. First of all though, I'm gonna just go for it. (audience chuckling) So Lauren, I look at this picture and I love this sort of mermaid shape that you've done with the dress and the style. The way that you've shot from above going down, with all the rocks and the interesting texture that you see in the background because it's all gray and monochromatic yet there's a break there. Good use of the rule of thirds as far as the break is concerned. And I look at the model, and I can see some emotion in there at least it looks like it without, as she looks down and her body's down. I, but imagine it could almost be a mermaid that's out of water. That she's sort of somehow being swept up. What was the story that you wanted to put in there? I wanted to present the dress. Oh I'm sorry (laughs). I wanted to like show off the dress and tell the story with the dress and, I, placed the dress the way, like a mermaid. I was thinking of that. And, I just wanted her to be in like deep thought is my thought and we played with different poses and her looking intently at the camera, but I thought this one, kind of had more emotion in the thought of it being kind of quiet and just in, like just thinking. So I see all that you're saying. I can see that. I can the very sort of structured pose of the dress and she's definitely looking down and it does seem to be that emotion and the hands are nice and soft and, all these elements I'm looking at and listen, even if you don't think or you don't look and see those things, all those elements people pay attention to even sublimity. Even if they don't see it initially, it's the reason why you look at something and for some reason you like it and for some reason you don't. It's all those details. So you can't actually discredit anything that happens in a picture. Why the lighting? I don't know. I just saw the background like, I just like rich gray concrete, I feel like there's some sort of innocence there and so I just wanted to captivate that the color and the essence of all that with the dress. So, that's the background and the color, but not necessarily the lighting. So that was really the question there. Was why, what's up with the lighting? Why did you, did you, I guess I'm playing devil's advocate here because I look at this and I feel that you saw an area that you liked but you really just used the light that was there. Yeah. Did you not feel that you wanted to effect the lighting? I feel like that's why I showed this image is 'cause I wanna push the envelope and maybe it was a safe shot. Right. So you just said it. And-- Yeah. That was it. That's the word I was looking for or not looking for but I was looking for it because that's exactly what this is. I love the fact that you have this idea and this dress that you were trying to show the whole gown and there's the mermaid out of water and you're looking for this somber look and you picked this picture where she's not looking at the camera versus that. So those are all good elements. But with a story like this too, to effect the lighting and I would, and again I don't know what equipment you have, but I use a piece of cloth called a duvetyne, which is a big black heavy cloth, and it's great for outdoors 'cause when you use things like v-flats like I was using earlier, the wind is blowing and they're moving everywhere and it's really difficult to use. But a piece of cloth, even if the wind blows it, it's still gonna stay up as long as you obviously got it held down at the side well enough. But it would created this shadow and darkness on one side and I potentially probably would've actually put it on this side of her, so that the face goes into the darkness more. Creating that additional mystery, the light is gonna really help in this scenario and this is so evenly lit that it kind of loses the mystery. If you're standing right in broad daylight and you're standing there there isn't much mystery to it. Mystery is sort of in the shadows. It's in the darkness and earlier I know when I was doing overhead lighting technique and I shipped up and said how I often will put in flags and cut the light off, I love taking the light away. And I think it's a great thing to do. And in a shot like this I would've done all I could to take the light away, to help tell that story. Even when you see these great rocks on the ground, I would've loved for example to have picked up the rocks and to have let them shower in front of the lens as I took the picture so there were stones falling like bubbles in water but they would have been rocks that are coming down. And so that there's another level, another layer, another dimension with outer focus rocks falling. Pebbles, stones to mimic a waterfall of rock. To make this urban mermaid story come to life. And again it's that fantasy. So, try and let your mind run riot. Try and really fantasize about what could be and then try and make it happen. And that's me looking at your picture and I've just started with that and I could probably go on and on about how I would do this and that to it and effect it and what have you. But that's what I always recommend is you see something you shoot it and you're looking at it, then get inspired by your own work and these ideas will come to you. Thank you. Of course. Toy. In studio. Hey Toy. You've come all the way from? Houston. Houston, Texas. Yes. Thank you. Tell me about this picture. Well it's a high school senior. I shoot high school seniors. We're outdoor and it's kind of that moment where she is about to face the real world. She's about to go into college and she's confident but she's a little nervous. I love it. So, I gotta say this. I see the vulnerability in this picture. I still actually see the sort of the insecurity. She's obviously a very pretty girl. But it's not that that I see first. I really do look into her eyes and she's looking curious and she's looking slightly scared and that could be because of the cameras, it could be because of whatever but it doesn't matter. I love the story and I see that first and I don't see, what I love too is that I don't see you, I don't see like the whole production about it. It looks like it has a sort of a cinematic moment and all that story is works really nicely with this warm light, afternoon light this is, not morning light 'cause you can tell 'cause it would be blue coming through. And my main issue I have with it, is that and maybe I'm wrong, but it looks to me like you re-touched this picture correct? Very little. I actually am not-- Very little? I'm not very good with re-touchin'. So-- That might be the problem. Okay. So either very little or not very good at re-touching. See there's the thing, and re-touching is an art form. And, if you are even if you think it's very little, I see the retouching and for me it goes to the sort of the plastic fantastic can happen pretty fast. And to have that perfect skin that is absolutely flawless without a single line under the eye, without any bags whatsoever, to have that kind of level of perfection here yet to have freckles all down her arms and dots all over her shoulders, the two don't go together. First of all she was very unlikely to have not a single mark on her face, but to have dots and things all over her shoulders. So either you keep it going all the way through, and it becomes a part of the story, Okay. or better still, leave it be. I do believe that we live in a world that is way to re-touched and she's a gorgeous girl and I think that story that you told about all that those wrinkles and lines and bags under the eyes if there were any, but they probably were very light, would have actually added to the story. Okay. Added to the beauty and the natural raw energy that this picture has and it does have it. You caught that moment. So that after the fact messed up your good work. Okay. Alright. Angela. Hi Angela. There's a microphone right, I think there's one next to you. Yes. So-- Right does that work? This one I'm gonna have, I love this picture immediately. I love the energy. It looks like to me obviously they're dancing. Do you do weddings and stuff like that? So I just take portraits of the guests at weddings. Just of the guests at the weddings? So obviously these guests are having a lot of fun. Now are you orchestrating this or are you just wandering around trying? No I set up a studio. So this is definitely like a shoot through moment where I'd give them a prompt and then wait. The perfect place to do these sorts of things right? So some of the best photographs candid moments are these days in these photo booths type scenarios that people set up and they love having them done and it's amazing to see how people react in front of the camera and dance and goof off and you get these great candid moments. So when you do a picture like this, is there a story for you? You're prompting them. What was the prompt that you gave them here? So often I'm telling them to look at each other, get really close. My goal is always to remind all the couples of their love which is really easy at a wedding 'cause they're already kind of there. So I'm trying to create a connection is my goal. Yeah. And then I just want them to kind of be flirty and then for me to catch that. So, that's my goal that after a wedding that, 'cause my clients the couple, that they would look, can see their people as they truly are and of course all their little love stories. Well it's a beautiful picture. And I think it's very honest and it's organic and I can really see that he's laughing at her and she, the fact that her head's so thrown back, which is probably would say in fashion of that's too far or I've lost your chin and I see that neck. But I don't care about any of those things because I believe here of the honesty of the moment. From a lighting standpoint, I think I would've loved to have had something, do you have a dark, did you put a v-flat in here or anything like that? I should. You should. Yeah. I think it would be really nice. I think it would crunch up all the sides here and bring in a level of darkness throughout the hair and throughout this area. Are they on a white floor? They were just on carpet here. So just a background. On carpet, yeah right. So as much as you can influence all these different aspects, and start to control it and shape these pictures a bit more, it'll really help make these images pop. And just give them that sort of element of control. You're trying to differentiate yourself from other people who are doing this sort of thing, and this sort of studio light is being done and at weddings we get these great photographs. So what would make your picture that little bit extra polished on it? And I think that would really help. I mean I gotta say there isn't a lot of negative critique in here, because it is such a real emotion. May I ask what lens were you using? Do you remember? 2470. 2470. It's a great go to lens. Have you tried doing this with primes or just because you're in and out so much you don't? For this I have to shoot a group real fast right? 'Cause they'll come in with all their cousins so I have to have 2470. I look at this and one of the things I see here is that the hand and the elbow are quite big in shot. Yes. And that's probably because you were wide on the lens and you were quite close and you're trying to get that moment. As much as possible when you're doing those sort of things, it doesn't work very well. They can kind of look a little ugly and bit if they get, and I can see that beginning to happen. So it's something to bare in mind is just using a prime and being further back in this scenario. Especially if you're very set and you're at a party, because if you set your lighting and you've got your camera and you set the whole frame up. And with the size of the sensors we have on the cameras these days you could really control that set and keep that camera at that one, and the prime would be beautiful. Nice and open and keep everything the way it should be. And then of course you could always crop it. Yeah. I understand. So I would think about that too but, at the end of the day good shot. Good work. Thank you. Great advice. Maclin. Maclin, I love that name. I'm like Maclin. It must be a Scotsman but I realize it's you. It's from Hawaii actually, but totally Scottish. So, you took this picture? Yep. It is striking. Thank you. It's really like almost like something out of Lord of the Rings. They look like elves. (Maclin laughs) Yeah. The bone structure is amazing on these individuals and I, did you apply makeup to both of them? He did actually. He's also my makeup artist and, yeah. Hair and makeup go to guy. So he's your hair and makeup guy. Was this a portrait for him? Yes he is. This was actually for a beauty company, a lash line. And this was one that the client really liked and, it actually doesn't show the lashes that much but I think it's the mood, the feeling, the rawness of it. And are these lashes are used-- Just on her actually. Yeah, that was surprising that this was the one that they picked to use but-- Well I get it we can understand why. I mean you look at a shot like this and it is striking. It is unusual. It's different. Your friend in this picture because of that like elf like look-- Yeah. It becomes almost other worldly because and elf obviously is not from our world. It has a fantasy kind of idea to it, and the lighting is pretty good too. It's pretty striking. I think it would've been fun to see, I think a little ring light coming through. Even if it was just a reflector giving it some little kick in some of these areas. The depth of field is one of the only things that I question in this picture, and it's right on the edge. Yep. You're right on the edge of your depth of field. Sure. So, I look at it while looking at it this close, I see his chin's already beginning to sort of drop off. And as he's such focal point of this picture, it's one thing when you see a picture this big, but when you start to shoot commercially, and they really love this, what happens when they make this into a billboard in Times Square? Right? You see everything. Yeah. So you wanna make sure that you've kept your ability to, and this is where the technical side comes in. We talked about the emotion and finding it and creating it and the story, the story's here. But then of course it all has to come together. And that's what makes you a professional. It's having all those elements and then realizing it's a job. (laughs) You know? And you're like okay, I gotta keep all these aspects and certainly when you're doing makeup and cosmetics and things like that, skin is a large part of it. And so if as a customer, if you can't see areas and what have you, and you might lose a piece here and there, that can sometimes be an issue. True. But I would have just tried to have worked with the depth of field and maybe even increased the depth of field and then in post knocked it off if that was something you really desired. Do you remember what you were shooting at here? No. No idea. No idea? No idea (laughs). Well, it's something to think about right? Yeah. Because I'm looking at it and there isn't a lot, a huge area of this photograph that's in focus and it's not really out of focus so it's sort of, the focus is very light and soft. And, you wanna say something? Oh no, no I was just-- Did you shoot that intentionally like that or is that just the way it came out? I just, it was, I'm kinda just caught in the moment a lot and in motion and I just love when everything's sort of lined up and I sort of just kinda hit and so it wasn't like, I dunno. I just like impact and emotion that's involved. Well you've made a great shot. But certainly going forward, what you need to try and start doing is certainly deliberately creating these moments. Sure. 'Cause again when you go out there in the workforce, people are not hoping that you might just hit it and it might Right. just all come together and this could be and could. Totally. So that's why sometimes we create these situations like with the raw set up, Scenes. where we measured everything and it's all exact science. It's all technical. All that part of it's super technical. And then in that world I can then create and do all I wanted because I've controlled everything else. Yep. So there is a huge element of control but there's also that element of spontaneity. You know? Yeah. Nice picture. Cool. Thank you. Casey. Casey from CreativeLive. I love it. I love Casey actually. Casey seems to find himself, he's been taking photographs of me since I've been here and (laughs) every time I look and see where he is he's somewhere up hanging from something high and I've got more photographs of me pointing at Casey I think than anybody else. I'm like what is Casey doing up there? It's like some paparazzi hanging out in trees. And of course now I see this photograph and I realize it's his thing. It's his style and it's his look and his brand. It's a really kind of a cool shot actually Casey. I look at this individual and they look like a tiny person in almost like a nest. Right? And it's kind of wild how there's this great depth through it. I'm not even sure what it is. It's like what is this? And that's great when a photograph makes you think. Like it makes you wonder what's happening. What he's done here in a shot like this, is provoke me to sort of wonder what's happening. My biggest critique is that I'm, just on a personal level don't love the styling of the person in the picture. Now I don't know whether he had control over that or whether he decided or also made a decision, but for me all those things come into play to really make a great picture. I love the idea, I like the concept. I actually like the way it's lit. I like the feel of it. But the actual clothing and the styling choices for me kind of don't make sense or they just don't do anything. I'm just like blah on that part. So Casey, get your styling under control would ya? (audience laughs) Dominique. Do we know where Dominique, is Dominique someone online who submitted? Must be. Well you know what? I actually really love this picture. It's extremely sweet and real shot. And I'd have no idea how old this picture is. When it was taken. Because it looks like a vintage piece. It doesn't mean that it is. But it had that feeling. The way it's lit and the sort of color of the tones and what have you. It almost actually looks like it was shot on film. It reminds me of the sort of the sort of silver gelatin type looking print. And a very very tender moment it is. I don't think in a shot like this, it isn't about a critique. It's about you've caught the moment. I mean, yeah. If one is to critique anything, it's more like, it's very small aspects like I wish the fingers weren't there on her neck cropped like that. I wish I saw a little bit more of the hand so that I could really see the sensitivity of the hand touching the neck and bring those sorts of elements in. I'm not, and again this is being really critical, but I would love to see just this part of the picture a little bit more. I don't need this. I want that. Just to draw me in. I think too, that I might've punched in on this picture a little tighter. And because this is really so much, it's all in here. It's so beautiful and powerful. And in fact if you crop those fingers off and you went in like that, you'd be right in there. And I'm a huge fan of lines and wrinkles (laughs). And there's, the older people get, the more amazing their faces become. And anyone that thinks that the older we get we, that we need to retouch all these things and we need to get rid of them all, I don't believe in that at all. I think they tell us a fantastic story about the laughter and the love and the crying and the life we've lead and that's what I see in a picture like this. Two generations it looks like. So beautiful shot. Well done Dominique. And Nigel Dominique is watching and she was ah that's me (laughs). Waiting to see if she has any comments back for ya but thank you again Dominique for submitting. Absolutely. Thank you it's a great shot. Antony. Is it Antony Ponctilion? I like, what a great name. That's a fantastic name (laughs). Cool picture. Really cool picture. I look at this shot and I'm thinking to myself you must do fashion? Little bit, trying. Do a bit of fashion? Trying? I think it's cool. I actually love the background you selected. The model's got great look to him. He's totally piercing. Is he also an athlete? He's a rapper and at the time I took this photo of him he was livin' out of his car actually. Doesn't live out of his car anymore but I really like kind of everything that he did. It looked like he knew he wasn't gonna fail. Like there was no insecurity about him at all. Even though he was livin' in his car at the time he had just met me, we were in the construction site and he just had this fearlessness to him. This was the only time I got him to actually sit still and look at the camera. Everything else that I took of him he wasn't looking at the camera. But I just really liked that he sat down and he just yeah pierced at me. I hadn't met a lot of people that are able to do that. So. No absolutely. It's very special when people commit like that for you and allow it and this shot for me works in many ways. I mean I, again one can be critical of everything but sometimes when a picture works it just works and I think this picture works very nicely. Would I do it differently? I wasn't there so I don't know what was possible. But I do think of things like, like when you say when you mention those things, and his stare, I do, I'm looking at his face and certainly on the resolution that I'm looking at on this big screen, it's beginning to get quite soft. The face is beginning to kind of break up as far as pixelate and stuff like that and, do you, what camera are you using or what size is the back? So that was a Mark 3 and I shot it with a 85 prime at I think I shot it at 2. with a neutral density filter. I had an Octobox to camera left. Right. Okay. So this is already cropped in a little bit more than I, any more it would be pretty pixelated. But I cropped Right. it in quite a bit to get to this. And it's one of those things again. So, I love the picture. I love the look of it, the feel of it, it's actually now becoming the quality of the picture. Not the quality of the image. But actually quality of the photo, the actual picture itself. Because when you start to take great pictures like this, and people are like okay. I'd love for you to come work for Interview Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine or this is a cool shot of this individual. I think it's really great. Or they want to look through archival pictures and pull one to run in the magazine, these sorts of issues on a technical side that if the paper of the magazine isn't very good which by the way they rarely are, right? It really requires you having a really great image quality for so that the print stands up and that goes back to the technical side. And that's something you just have to think about when you're shooting too and at the end of the day sometimes you can't help it. You just take the best image you can right? And you just have to go with it. But you want to set yourself up for success every time I think with that in mind especially the more commercial or the commercial photos you're trying to do or the sort of clients your going for versus just my own portfolio kinda stuff. No, I think it's a cool shot. Well done. It might actually personally be my favorite one I've seen so far. Hilarious. I love this. Karen. Very sweet, very interesting. Very produced. I don't trust the reflection for some odd reason in the background. I look at that shot and I'm like well what happened to the reflection in the background? Everyone looks very cut out. But maybe that's the idea. I almost wish that it was a little bit rougher around the edges. Because it is so produced that I'm actually not paying as much attention to the very very cute interaction that's happening between the three of them, I'm actually now beginning to analyze weird things like why this is gray. Why this, they look cut out. Why there's nothing in the background. So that's a problem and are you, that's not the story you're trying to tell. This is the story and this story's adorable. This is great. This is super cute. So you're, and I look at that and I'm like, again I get my cropping tools out and I would go just sort of chop, chop, chop. Unless of course you're selling that table and the mirror. (audience laughs) If that's what you're doing then fine. But I doubt it. So, don't get distracted with thinking you have to have this in there or that in there and if you're trying to cut out the background anyway and you've removed it for whatever purposes, I would just go in and make it about this action, make it about this moment and I think too that we could do with perhaps a little bit more dynamic lighting. I love the fact that this little girl here is wearing this I guess it's like an under dress. But it would've been amazing to see the mother in one too. And to carry on with that sort of romantic fairy tale of material. I would love to have seen some of this dress perhaps up here on the side. Another one. Lots of fabric, lots of material to really sort of make it even more fantastic. Very easy to critique other peoples work right? Just, (audience laughs) shoulda woulda coulda right? Jessica. Look at you Jessica. Wow. Great shot. Thank you. Really piercing. I have no idea where it was shot but I look at this-- Can you guess? Well I'm not, I'm just, I'm gonna look at it and say, I mean it could be that this photograph was taken in like Europe. I mean I'm not saying it is but I look at this and I'm like this could be taken in Europe, this could be in Paris, this could be somewhere in London. And the lighting is fantastic. I love it. 'Cause the eyes are popping but they're not really lit. I love the side light. I love that, Thank you. this is a sort of great fashion beauty shot. Thank you so much. Go ahead. Where was it taken? Seattle. Shocking. (audience laughs) Yeah actually it was raining and I was, the model was walking through-- That's why I said London. (audience laughs) Oh (laughs). Well you could-- Seattle and London, you do share something in common. (Jessica laughs) Yeah it was raining and we were trying to, and i didn't want to shoot and get her hair wet so we found like, like a hotel with something covering the rain so we shot under there and at first I wasn't sure about the lighting but, it worked out. Why were you not sure about it? Because it was as you can see there's, it's more in shadow on one side and then it's a little bit, I like more even lighting and actually it's great because now that I've seen how you work I wanna, I do want to add more dynamic lighting instead of having it all just one light. So, I mean, thank you for that by the way. So it was just a little bit more intimidating to work with that type of light. For sure it is. But even lighting, which is absolutely fine, isn't really about telling a story. Mostly even lighting, as far as the lighting telling the story, is about showing everything and that's why catalogs and commercial work Yeah. is all about this very even lighting. And certainly almost every photographer has a great way of creating even lighting 'cause there's gonna be lots of clients that want to see everything 'cause that's what they do and you're technically going in to capture whatever it is fully. But when you're trying to tell a story. Even lighting becomes very boring. If the whole story is revealed it's like reading the very last page in the book first. Oh and then they go married and lived happily ever after. Really? It's like well has anything happened in between? Okay. Right? So, Yeah. that's where this lighting of mystery and kind of this darkness through the front and it's not perfect but it's kind of real and it's a little sexy and you're not quite sure what's happening and I like the gap in her mouth. I like the fact that she's breathing out. I like her imperfect teeth. I like the fact that the hair is flying away and it's messy and it's blowing in the wind and you haven't Okay. re-touched that. Thank you. I wasn't sure about that actually so thank you. Well, see this is the thing. It's like you, again there are probably people out there who will say of no you've got to re-touch that. You've got to fix all of that. And, sure. Okay. Have a hairstylist make it all perfect. But that doesn't make your picture better. That just has a sort of look to it and actually I look at this and even I get a feeling it has like a 1970's vibe to it. So, and it could even be like a Prada campaign. Thank you (laughs). But the things is what you need to start doing is you need to start to own it. And you need to control it. And I hope that you learnt from this and you looked at the conditions and you remembered what happened and now what you have to do is re-create that again. And it's so it's that's the thing. You take those moments but you have to be so aware of this and that. Everything you use, what happened. You said it was raining and then you went into this area. Working in conditions that are hard create, get the best out of us in the end. I really learned nothing because of the easy things that happened to me. I learned everything but by all the difficult things and things that went wrong. And things that weren't perfect. And growing up in England, just like in Seattle is rainy and gray. Yeah. And a lot of people think that's not very good weather conditions because it's miserable. But actually it also has its own great color tone and feeling and vibe and emotion, and I don't know about you but when it comes to music I love the blues. But you can't sing the blues unless you have them or experienced them. And so all of these things play into it and I think that Seattle weather and what have you helps create that gray and use those things. Yeah. Use those emotions. Don't just wait for those sunny days so well done you. Thank you. Mum, Mumsilo. I don't know if I pronounced that right or not. Mumsilo. Now this is an interesting shot. It looks to me like it's a scan of an image. And again those can be tricks that people play to make pictures look a certain way. And I don't judge people about all of those things. Like oh you should've done this or you did that or I don't like that scratch or I like this. The main thing I react to is just when I can see a picture like this, is just how does it make me feel? And I do love this young man in the background who's looking down at his ice cream cone. And it's interesting with the guy in the foreground sort of looking up and staring off. There's a definite story there. Are they father and son? Is this this man, are they at a bar? I mean what are they doing? So those are stories that I'm imagining and I'm thinking I'm conjuring up. And that I find important. Like the photograph should make me want to think something and take me on some journey. And then it sort of succeeded or it's succeeding. And the colors are really intense. And you can see like the silver, the way his arm is sort of glowing and like a little silver, and often times when I'm shooting in fashion you do actually put oils and moisturize parts like the arms and things like that so that all of that pops out and comes to life. Because if it didn't shine like that and his skin didn't shine, it would be flat and it wouldn't actually be as interesting. So again it's little details like that that are important. The cigarette in his hand, the butt that's going down. It's a sort of, the innocence of the child juxtaposed with the man who's having a cigarette, having a beer. He's got lots of hair. Twice the size of him. It's sort of in a way life. And it's both beautiful it's both, real. And could also be scary. As far as what happens to one. Where we go. So all kinds of stories conjured by a picture like this. There you have it. Am I gonna see the next one? Isla. Isla, Ayla? Ayla. Ayla. Ayla. Nice to meet you Ayla. Where you from? I'm from Olympia. Wonderful. So, not too far from here (laughs). Very interesting shot. Shot through a piece of glass I assume? Yes sir. This is actually in a teeny tiny little bathroom in a cabin in Anchorage that I was doing boudoir sessions at. Okay. And I wanted to kind of play with the one nice thing in the bathroom. Nice big glass shower. So and you shoot boudoir? Is that your specialty? Yes. How long have you Yes. been doing that for? Probably about four years. I am a prior Air Force photo journalist. So that's where my training comes from. Fantastic. Yes sir. Wow. That's amazing. I love combat photography. It's very important work. And do you use elements of your combat training, your combat photography training when you shoot now? So my name training, I was not a combat photographer. I did a lot more studio work. Okay. Okay. My ex husband was a combat photographer for the Air Force. So he did a lot more of the photo journalism combat work. I did a lot more studio based and still do. Fantastic. And when you worked with this model what were you asking her? What were you telling her? What were you suggesting to her? So this one was just kind of, so she's a military wife. So our whole session was around having something for her husband. And so we kind of, it was spur of a moment for her to get in there and so I kinda just wanted to capture what she would want her husband to see in her when he saw the images. More than anything she knew that this was a model call and that they would be used for my marketing but I wanted it to really be about her and her husband and the connection they have and what she would want him to see in her. So she's in the shower? Mm Hm. And the shower, and so and she has makeup on? Yes. And I can see that quite heavily through the, in the picture which is not unusual for boudoir obviously. And actually in this particular instance works quite well 'cause we're gonna shoot through glass. If she didn't wear that kind of makeup her whole eye and probably everything would probably fade into almost nothing. Right? Yes sir. You wouldn't see it at all. I look at this shot. I personally would actually love to see just a little bit more actually of her. I see the glass more in, and obviously you focused on the glass. You didn't focus on her. Did you do shots as well where you focused on her and the glass was in the foreground? It just, how did that come out? Yes sir. I normally shoot out of 1.4. I shoot really small depth of field. Just my personal style and so I wanted to get some where the water was in, the water droplets were in focus as well as some where she was. And then when I did post processing the ones with the water in focus kinda stood out more to me. And listen I totally see that and I get it and I love the fact that it's actually, I like the mystery in the picture. And is that a tattoo on her body? Yes sir. And is that something that her husband likes that tattoo? You know I didn't ask too much on that but that was part of her particular, one of the reasons I picked her for the session was because of her tattoos. And as far as the way she's playing with her hair, is she holding it up and picking it up? Yeah so she's kinda holding it against the glass. I felt as though I needed more movement in the image and so there wasn't really a way with the water holding her hair down there wasn't a way to get that movement without her kinda like holding it onto the glass. Did you try a shot, like I see this and I've shot on glass many many times and in fact shot entire editorial stories where we pit up massive bits of plexi and we gel the lights and shine it through the glass at all different angles and it picks up on all those great drops of water and what have you and it's a lot of fun to shoot with glass and water and certainly skin on glass and water. Did you do some where she was pushed up against the glass? Like actually literally pushed up against it? In this particular one I don't think I did but I, a couple months later I had another model and she just had a white shirt on and I did some that way with her. But for this particular model I didn't. Well I mean keep at. It's one of those things where, for me I'd like to see a little bit more detail I think. I like what's happening here. I feel like the crop is a little restrictive. I also think your camera angle is a little high. Okay. I would've personally just come down more and shot it a little up at her except that this top part of her body isn't as top heavy, and so perhaps the shape of the body starts to come out more and the curves. This is for her husband potentially. He's looking at these pictures. I know this is shot for yourself and you picked this one, but I'm looking at that and I'm like well, the story here all that story makes sense except not in this picture. Like I'm like I get what you just said and I love all of that, but then I look here and I'm, that's why I asked well is this for the husband and what about the tattoo and what, because if it was me and it was of my wife and it's private, it's personal, I'd love to see aspects of her body. Areas, things, and I love the fact that the tattoo's there because maybe that's something that he only gets to see 'cause it's right underneath her breast right? So, they're very personal aspects to that. And maybe if that was, if it was squashed up against the window and that was the only piece that came through and you saw the tattoo up against the glass, Yeah. and then the face and the eye, then it's something almost like this is for you. This is the only bit in focus and you know this. This is yours. And so there's that additional story. But other than that this is, I like things like this where you're pushing the envelope and you're really trying. Thank you sir. Larissa. Cool shot Larissa. Striking. I look straight at the eyes and I'm like wow. Gorgeous. I would do one thing immediately. I would crop. Because the bottom part of this shot I'm distracted by the out of cous shoulder right to camera. There's a lot of hair on the shoulder. It's all out of focus as well and it's blurry and this is the focus point here and how gorgeous is that when you look at in here? And if you were to even slice through the top here, and make this a sort of a landscape picture and it becomes all about those eyes, that's where the story is in this picture and it's stunning. I mean other than that, I love the freckles. I mean you know. It's super gorgeous. The lighting coming across. The fact that she's got all those freckles and then you have all that hair and then you have the light that almost comes through it as another character. It's a great shot. Beautiful light in the eyes. But all of this mess down here, this doesn't work for me and that. Chop chop. Sorry Larissa. Chop chop. (audience laughs) Dianna. Hi Dianna. Hi. Let me have a look at this picture. Wow. So you are a story teller. You like to create these fantasies. Tell me about this picture. What made you shoot it? What made me choose it? what made you choose it, what made you shoot it, why this picture? I chose it because it was actually my first shoot ever using lighting and so I was pretty proud of it at the time. But after today's class I definitely see some things that I could do differently. And what would you do differently? I would have more shadow on her face and make it more dramatic on her face. So, it's interesting though you see, I see something in this picture when I look at it and the first thing that I looked at that actually quite liked, and I don't know, and again, this is maybe not even what you were going for, but if this, 'cause she kind of looks a little evil in this picture. Now I don't know whether that's what you were going for or not. Yeah. But they the way this shadow is cast on her head by this jewel gives that, makes like a little horned animal right under her eye, and it's kind of spooky. And I think I would've played with the vamp aspect of this and hiked it even more. With the bird on the hand, it can be a little, cheesy sometimes to do things like that. Yeah. You know? And even the way the scarf is wrapped, is a little not like fantastic but I love the rest of this aspect. I like all these elements. I like this background. The lighting is almost a little harsh on the foreground 'cause it looks fake. It looks a little studio. And again you could make this very studio but then I would perhaps wanna see more things happening with the light. More light coming round in all these different angles. But ultimately for me, I think it was just taking the story and making it, taking it really hamming it up so that it's so obviously this crazy story. 'Cause it's not quite enough. It's almost sort of a little bit like I'm looking at the bird and, like why is she looking at the bird? Why is the bird not real? (Dianna laughs) Why is it a stuffed bird? And if it is a stuffed bird then, there should be something wrong with her. She should be like (squawks) (mumbling). (Dianna laughs) Versus like no I'm pretending it's real. (Dianna laughs) (audience laughs) I'm completely nuts. (audience laughs) (Dianna laughs) Is her head about to start spinning? I don't know. But those are the kind of stories that I would look for and I would play with and, but this sort of lighting is tough. But it could be cool. It could be, but it's almost slightly over exposed but maybe that's what you were going for. You know? Were you? I didn't know what I was going for. It was midday and so I was trying to get the dark background and just try and get her face lit. Like I said it was my first time ever using lighting. So. Well good for you. Thank you. And keep at it and keep going and what you just said just then as in I didn't know what I was going for, that's the thing where you have to, that's the part where you gotta change. So obviously going in, have something you're going for. Be prepared to change. But what you don't want, and be prepared to tell a different story at the time and as things develop, but don't really go in with nothing. Try and go in as armed as heavily as possible. Locked and loaded and then of course whatever happens happens. You know? Thank you. Of course. Yvonne. Cool shot actually. Very cool picture. I will say that, and this is just the, this is the perfectionist in me. If I couldn't have done it by getting, and I see how low he went to get this shot, and I love the fact that in the foreground you get the grass and again the sort of rule of thirds concept here. This great strip of grass through about a third of the picture. And I love the angle. I like the sun coming around. What I don't like is the top of the building and the chimney and all of that. And if I couldn't get low enough to crop it out completely, I probably would've cheated and gone in in post and taken it out. And it's not cheating. I mean that's the thing and there are elements of re-touching and stuff which are quite normal. And by the way back in the day when I shot film, in a picture like this we would've gone and blocked that out. We wouldn't have re-touched it, but you could've made a print and in the printing process you can burn it out completely or you can block that aspect because it's a complete, you've got blue sky, you've got a white sky back in the background. So you could've taken that out and that and pictures throughout history are like that. In fact I'll tell you a very quick story. I've got a great photograph in my house of five generations of my family. The youngest person in the picture is my grandmother and it was taken in 1905. And you've got my grandmother all the way through to my great, great, great grandmother, great grandmother. And I always ask people as they're looking through these pictures on my walls, do you see something funny about that picture? And they look at all these five women taken in 1905, and occasionally people get it right. But the interesting thing is is my great great grandmother in that picture was not alive at the time the picture was taken. She had died as a young girl, or as a young woman rather. And they wanted her in the picture. So, they had left a hole for her when they took the picture and they superimposed her in in 1905. So people have been doing manipulation of photos for as long as time itself pretty much. As long as we've been taking pictures we've been manipulating and adjusting. But other than that cool shot. I'm a fan of the yoga pictures. Wow look at this. Dee. Dee. Wow what a cool picture. What a cool shot. Thank you. Tell me about this. How did you do it? What did you do? It was after a class here on CreativeLive where the focus was to take time out to play and I've been meditating on focusing on the abundance of my life rather than the scarcity. So I said I need to take everything that I have and make a story out of it. So, it was originally, we had did a class on lighting gels but I didn't have a chance to watch the replay so I just threw the gels out and this was inspired by the movie Beetlejuice (laughs). I can see that. (laughs) And I wanted to kind of get that warped feeling from Bettlejuice and I had, that's my shawl, that's her jewelry, some of my jewelry and those are my shoes. And that was so. And what did you ask your model to do? I asked her to pretend, she's an actress. I asked her to pretend that the floor was moving and that something that she wasn't necessarily like posing but kind of just tossing piecing of her body like this. And that's one of the shots that I landed. So, I look at this shot and I've gotta say I, my first reaction is sort of like oh whoa that's cool and it stops me and I'm arrested by this picture. What's happening in this shot? The ground's all over the place. It has an Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice kind of thing happening. Yeah. With all that. I see her sort of purply pink lavender type hair that she's got going on. And all the color and the patterns work really well. So from a styling standpoint, from a photographic standpoint I think the lighting's kind of cool. It has its own look to it. Its own feel to it. This could be as far as the lighting style, like people like David Lachapelle and will have you use this kind of very vibrant poppy poppy light. So it's a real look. And it would be great if you have a portfolio of things like this. What I don't love, is her posing and this aspect or these hands and all of that. I feel like as much as their is so much wildness and spontaneity in all of that, the control aspect of her hand and the look in her face, it's almost as if I want it to be, to play a part, that all of it to be a bit more quirky and off and I don't know whether that was just her, or whether you could control that, but it's, I love the fact that it looks like the rug has been pulled from under her. But it's so perfect and a bit tea pottish. Yeah. You know? That I get distracted by those things. Okay. And even the look in her eye. I mean I would love just to see all of this craziness happen with the rest of her so that it all plays into that. Right. That was something that she was working on and I was working on directing. So it was kind of, now that I have the techniques you've given today I'm sure-- Absolutely but keep at it. Okay. Because it's like, it's that bringing it all together-- Yes. That makes it work. And your really are going in the right direction here 'cause it's like this is beautifully lit. It's very cool. It's great styling. All these different aspects. And now it's just like okay. What are we gonna add to this that's gonna just really make it fantastic? So well done. Okay. Thank you. Derek. Cool shot Derek. I love these sort of abstract photos. In fact one of my favorite pictures I took from years ago actually are three males models as they were walking towards my set and I was in Santa Monica and I was shooting, I could see them walking towards me crossing, I think it's Pacific Highway and I was just up on this bluff and I just took the shot of the three of them walking across the street like that and it's a zebra crossing. I call it a zebra crossing in England. Zebra crossing and there were three cars coming towards them and funny enough the three cars were in exactly the same position as the three boys walking. And so you've got three cars hitting three boys going like, going towards three boys like that and so for me that was one of my favorite shots and I see things like this and I like the shadows and what have you. But that's what I was gonna say. I wish we hadn't lost that shadow. I would've loved to have seen this more. And this is one of those situations where, I'm like it's almost there. But it's not quite. And when I look at the three guys too, this interaction between the two. The third guy is probably not with these two others but I find it distracting 'cause of the way he's dressed and what have you. From a stylish stand point. If this were an advertising shot or this was a, what's the story there? I don't get enough out of it. So, I think it's going in the right direction. It's cool. I see kind of what you were after. Birds eye view kind of feel. But you still sort of have to have these sort of for me symmetry or story or something to make it come to life. Ozzie. Look at that shot. You know that funny thing is is that it's interesting and it's definitely an interesting shot but a couple of things come to mind. First of all I wonder, is this her hand? It almost certainly is. But I don't know actually. It could also the way it looks 'cause of the crop, it looks like it could be somebody else's hand. I'm not quite sure what it's doing. I'm very distracted by the fact, I can, the inside of the mouth is a different color than her lip. And that's partly just 'cause of the way it's lit. The light's going in her mouth and lighting up the inside of her mouth. And that's something you have to be careful of. When you're shooting people and they're shouting and screaming which I do a lot of, and if your light is coming like that, you're like a dentist office. And all of a sudden you light up their tonsils in the back of the throat and it's not good. It's not a look. (audience laughs) There's certain things we long to reveal and that's one of them normally. So, raise that light. Do that same picture especially as her head's up. You can still capture that. This would be even darker and we wouldn't light up the inside. And I can even see how here either that is light inside or that's because the makeup again has not gone all the way over and you can fix that in post as well, but it's a bit disjointed. So I like the sort of 80's sort of styling and feel to it but, there's some tweaks there to do Ozzie. Adam. Cool. It's a cool shot. Great picture. Wide angle lens. Right up in your face. I can kind of see the lights here kind of looking at the lighting a little bit in the glasses. Which is fine. It can work kind of well. I almost wish that I could see it a little bit more. One thing I wonder, I see down here I can see all the spit on the tongue and under, by the teeth. And I wonder whether he had her keep that pose for a moment too long, or whether she actually screamed or whether she actually did something. It feels like he might've said, and then hold that and then it's built up. But in generally look. This is, I like this kind of picture. I like the starkness of it and the coolness of it and it's like shoot shoot shoot. Keep this up. And this is a definite look and a definite feel and it's popped on the screen. Fun shot. Cool picture. (speaking in foreign language) It looks like a postcard. And, it's the story of so many of our lives. Right? You see this picture, you see this moment. I mean we walk by this all the time. And I love it when people are inspired by just what they walk by. And I take shots like this constantly too. It's part of my New York series was just these random moments and things that I saw and feel and I think it's cute. And I love these just these two little legs down here. (audience laughs) And between the fathers, assuming the fathers legs. It's very very sweet. An endearing picture. What I would've done and would do would be to burn in this background so that it's much darker, contrasty, poppy and plays a feel there. Probably also would go in here and darken, dodge all this area, or burn in rather this area so that it's darker. So again it's a little bit more romantic. It's a little bit more nostalgic and it shifts my focus up into the picture 'cause it's quite a lot of foreground. Moe. Another very strong shot. Looks like it was, looks like we've got some strobe action going on here. That's sort of a, I guess that probably a sunset I'm assuming? Can't quite tell. Might be a low moon but it looks like a sunset. It's cool. It's an interesting shot. I'm wondering what's the point of the shot though? Is it the fact that we've got the sun and the moon there? That thing that round circle? Or is it about this gentlemen? And who is he? And, it seems like it's almost well, virtuous about this, what's happening in the background. So I'm not hugely moved but I like it. It's fine. I think Moe that shots like this can work, but I don't know enough about what's happening in this picture to get moved one way or the other. I look at him and I, he looks a little pained in this picture as far as like what he's doing. Would've been good to see his hands and see what he's holding and whether he's clenching his fists or whether he's relaxed. I don't know. Well there you go. There's a little critique action goin' on. Easy to critique, harder to do right? So awesome. Thank you Nigel for Of course. incredible critique. You are very talented at it. Thank you. It is not always an easy thing to do or to be on the other side so thank you to those of you who submitted. For sure. But Nigel I can't believe it that we've come to the end of the course. Give us your final thoughts for people at home. Well first of all I mean thank you guys at CreativeLive. I had an amazing week. We've been all over Seattle. I've photographed on location in steam plants and on beautiful beaches, in the woods, and in studio. We've told all kinds of stories and we've played with all kinds of lighting set ups. I've done things that I haven't even done before too. And that's the part of it. I'm always on a journey and I'm always looking to improve. I'm always looking to learn. And I think that the one thing I can sort of leave with you is to sort of stay fascinated with it. Really you're very lucky to be a photographer. You're very lucky to have that opportunity and when I started photography, it was a very expensive difficult thing to do. Any buying film and processing and doing all of that made it very hard. I love the fact that so many people have the opportunity to take pictures these days. Whether it's on a camera on their phone or whatever it might be, obviously migrating to a real camera helps. I mean you become a professional because you need to be able to print and publish your work. That doesn't mean that you can't hone your eye and figure out what you like even with a phone. But stay inspired. Look for inspiration everywhere. Love what you do. And don't ask other people all the time for their applause. Or to be liked. Do it because you like it, you love it. Make that decision. Know what you're doing. Own the picture. And you'll work. Good luck.

Class Description

“Think Big, Dream Bigger” - that’s the philosophy that internationally renowned photographer Nigel Barker has lived by his whole career. Join Nigel on CreativeLive as he shares how to make your dreams become reality.

Nigel will discuss his journey as a photographer and will teach through the moments that he learned from that ultimately led to his success. From developing your style, creating a brand, owning your confidence and going after and getting jobs, Nigel will help you become a successful photographer while still being yourself. In the class you’ll learn how to:

  • Create your brand by establishing who you are
  • Present yourself to the client so that they understand your style and abilities
  • Build a library of work for marketing your business
  • Use lighting to create emotion
  • Connect with your models and break the wall of posing

Be a fly on the wall as Nigel does a live shoot and shares his knowledge about equipment, environment, and how to work with models. And he’ll end the day with a live critique and discuss the best ways to use your images to present yourself to your clients and customers. By the end of this class, you’ll have the tools to set yourself up for success.


Michael Spatola

This is one of my favorite Creative Live classes so far. The storytelling and human interaction parts were my favorites! The ability for Nigel to get such amazing expressions in such a brief time shooting was amazing. Everything he demonstrated seemed almost effortless, and all without a shred of ego. Great class!

Margaret Lovell

Nigel is a wonderfully engaging instructor. I like that he walks his students through his photoshoots. The set ups. How to interact with the models. Even though there are a couple of genres I'm most active in, I appreciate that Nigel says that you can have different photographic interests, so long as you brand yourself properly. I like taking photos of lots of things, although my outdoor photos generate the most interest. I highly recommend all of Nigel's classes.

a Creativelive Student

Passion, personal, inspiring! Nigel, thanks for amazing class and a lot of great advices.