Being a Charlotte portrait photographer, I often wonder about how to improve my photography!
I must admit that I have not done much “shooting” lately for a good reason! I have a 4-month old son who keeps my wife and me busy! With that said, I still review “how to” videos online, read as much as I can, etc. A common theme in photography improvement is the concept of a portfolio review. Basically, the idea is to submit some of your best work to a more accomplished photographer in hopes that his/her constructive criticism can spark your next improvement endeavors and lead you in the right direction in regards to growing as a Charlotte portrait photographer.
With this portfolio review, the trick is that you have to leave your ego at the door! Sometimes, the reviewers can be brutally honest and you need to swallow your ego and value any criticism as a chance to improve.
So, I submitted about 15 photos to an online reviewer. Before this more accomplished photographer reviewed my portfolio, I offered my own constructive criticism. If I had to describe my biggest weakness as a Charlotte portrait photographer, I think my photo composition is fairly weak (overall). I probably get so focused and consumed with lighting variables (lighting is a key aspect), that I sometimes forget about strong composition. I waited anxiously for my critique and I was not surprised by my review. Overall, my reviewer said some nice, introductory comments. He said that he saw some good things overall. Wouldn’t you guess that the biggest flaw he pointed out was photo composition! He reiterated that composition should help your photos tell a story! It should lead the eye to the most important aspects of a photo and do it seamlessly, effortlessly, simply, etc. It may be coincidental (or maybe not), but he said that my composition in my black and white photos was much stronger than in my color photos. I am left to figure out why that may be…….Out of all of my photos, the reviewer liked this shot the most (see below)! He said that he enjoyed the vintage quality, the composition, etc.
My reviewer also referenced a few other black and white shots and highlighted them for the stronger composition (see below).
Again, he noticed that my composition was not as strong in my color photos. I need to ponder that finding to see if there is a reason why, etc. The only color photo that he said had solid composition was the following photo of my son (see below).
Not coincidentally, I found an online video on composition from Scott Kelby called “Crush the Composition” (see what he did there?). I must say that it was the best teaching tool on composition that I have run across! Most books, videos, etc on composition talk about theory in regards to rule of thirds, use of leading lines, filling the frame, etc. But, they fall short in the practical application. Scott Kelby “crushed” it by not talking about these rules of composition. Instead, he focused on the practical application. The most important idea was “working the shot”. Scott showed several examples of a strong, winning shot where he took 20 photos prior where he referred to those shots as being “crappy”! He would change angles, change focal lengths, change orientation (landscape vs portrait) until he got the shot. And, it wasn’t a mechanical idea! It was totally by feel! He knew the shot was there and the strong composition was there. But, the idea is that you have to “work the shot” to get there. Often times, people assume photographers find that award-winning composition right off the bat. What they don’t realize is that you have to “work the shot” to find it!
Going back to my portfolio review…….Did it help? Only time will tell! But, I do think it reinforced my ideas about my weaknesses. I have to be more concerned about composition! I have to make sure that it doesn’t take a backseat to lighting, etc! Also, I have to be vigilant about “working the shot” and not being satisfied with the first or second composition. In the end, I think this portfolio review could spark my photography to new heights! I wonder if other Charlotte NC Photographers and Charlotte NC Family Photographers struggle with composition……….