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GregYager
08-18-2010, 02:33 PM
Before I begin let me clarify that this isn't a complaint but rather an observance.

I recently uploaded a series of images for casual review and received some very insightful feedback. The reviews were very honest and very helpful to me for becoming certified but it got me to thinking...are we boxing ourselves in?

I feel as though there is a very small perimeter one must stand in to obtain a certifiable print. Don't shoot too high, don't shoot too low, shoot everything level. Certain body parts are very taboo such as the back of the hands. If you shoot in a field of cat tails don't let the cat tails be used as a vignette on the bottom. Don't close in tight on a subject, back away to include more of the surrounding.

The list can go on and on and I'm sure everyone has heard this but I thought a discussion on the matter my be an interesting venture.

I feel as though we're artists doing everything we can to make our art a science. If we all shoot from the same angle, lighting the same way, avoiding the same body parts doesn't that pretty much make us all the same in the end? I've been in business for 15 years and I hear this from clients every day(literally). Part of my client introduction is a simple question, "Why me?" More often than not the answer is, "Because your work is different. Not like the cookie cutter images we've seen elsewhere."

I read in an earlier thread that the basis of what we do has been the same since the 1800's. Has no one thought to look outside that box in 200 years? Really? Even the Olympics has freestyle versions of sports such as skiing, gymnastics etc...

I'm thinking that's what we could use here. A freestyle category that let's the artist tell the story of an image in their own way. From their perspective. From their angle.

I'm not here to break all the rules though as some of them make perfect sense to me. Exposure, color balance and harmony, clarity and other factors that really are science should adhere to strict guidelines in my book.

My submissions for certification as well as competition images will be well within the box as stepping outside the box would simply be an exercise in futility. I'm just curious as to the feedback I get on the subject of breaking out and letting our creative juices flow in a way that makes us all unique artists.

Thank you for your time and please...share some thoughts here.

Fuzzy_Duenkel
08-18-2010, 04:55 PM
This is difficult to respond to because we aren't seeing the images. If the back of the hand is obnoxious and a problem, then by all means it should be avoided, such as with a delicate image of a woman. But if you're photographing a boxer, the bigger it looks the better.

Maybe the criticism you received was justified and you're reacting negatively to suggestions that will improve your saleable work. Or maybe the judges learned a rule and don't know when to break it. That's always been a complaint of mine.

Again, it's really hard to say without seeing your images. The critiques may have been right on the money. Or it might have been narrow-minded hogwash.

That said, today there's a LOT of garbage passing as professional mosty because the new shooters haven't come up slowly, learning the fine aspects of body posing. As a result the overall level of the profession is nose-diving.

I once tried to explain that some images one new shooter's was doing were confusing, busy, pulling my eye away from the subject, full of too much useless space, etc. He responded by giving me a long dissertation on how they came from his inner soul and that they are expressions of art. I wasn't looking at them as an old geezer who cannot accept change, but as a casual observer trying to let the images speak to me on their own. And after all that, they were still confusing, busy, pulling my eye away from the subject and fiull of useless space, etc.

You see... crap is crap, and no amount of flowery words can change that fact. Sadly today, there's a LOT of justification for shortcuts.

You said not much has changed in 200 years.. THAT'S A GOOD THING! The artists of the 1800s studied composition, anatomy, etc. to be able to paint in a way that expresses the point they wanted to make. Those fundamentals don't change! The human mind doesn't change as to why the rule of thirds is usually strong and why center composition is usually weak.

Of course, much of the stoic, static and statue poses we did when film was $2 an exposure needed to go away. But I fear we've gone too far the other way, and one can only hope people will tire of photojouranlistic portraiture when all that means is "I have no clue about lighting or posing". I'm all for freeedom of expression and loosening the chains. But the artistic limits we must adhere to are not ours to change... they are innate to nature.

KirkDarling
08-18-2010, 05:46 PM
You said not much has changed in 200 years.. THAT'S A GOOD THING! The artists of the 1800s studied composition, anatomy, etc. to be able to paint in a way that expresses the point they wanted to make. Those fundamentals don't change! The human mind doesn't change as to why the rule of thirds is usually strong and why center composition is usually weak.

Fuzzy, you're right. About 15 years ago, I read a book by Dr. Deborah Tannen about the difference between male and female body language. She had travelled around the world and studied cultures all over the globe.

Interestingly, she had found that the body language of males and females was remarkably consistent in every culture she studied. Males had a certain way of sitting, standing, walking, et cetera, and so did females.

As she described the gender body language, I noted something: She was actually quoting the posing "rules" for male and female portraits.

You see (and I know you know, Fuzzy), photographers didn't just make up these rules out of thin air. They and the painters before them had observed people in real life and knew how people naturally position themselves.

The problem to be overcome by photographers is that when we plunk people in front of a camera, we've put them into an unnatural environment in which the average person forgets how to position himself or herself naturally. So we have to coax them back to natural positions--or at least positions that will be accepted as natural by viewers--because those are the positions we naturally see people assume in real life.

Painters and photographers have also observed the positions of people regarded as "graceful" rather than "awkward," "powerful" rather than "weak," et cetera. These are things Tannen pointed out as the universal body language of humanity...and they're all in the posing "rules."

GregYager
08-18-2010, 05:56 PM
Awesome input Fuzzy.

Actually I don't mean to sound negative about the critique I got because like i said it was very honest and helpful. I'm the type that would rather hear criticisms than compliments in a critique. When I want my work critiqued I'm asking for help in finding the problems.

I didn't have any bad comments made on the back of the hands I just remembered that from several critiques I saw of others work.

The images I posted weren't selected based on what I thought would pass a cpp critique. They were just examples of what was currently selling well for me so I decided to throw 'em out there and see how they fared. I actually liked the reviews I got.

As for the rule of thirds...did the Mona Lisa fit that?

I guess where my thoughts were going is can we find a way to be more creative without producing the crap you mentioned. A true photo journalistic portraiture that has that has good core qualities but a more whimsical style that shows life as it really is.....because life and our perception of it actually has changed since the 1800's.

I'll gladly post a few of the images here but please keep these things in mind...

1) I don't think they're perfect
2) I don't feel they received an unjust review
3) They were shot before I read the standards of what to show, what not to show etc...
4) I don't want this to become a negative thread. Just open discussion.
5) I take criticism well so feel free to splash red ink. It's what makes us better.

That being said I'm gonna try to figure out how to attach a few of the prints here.

Oh and thanks for that reply. It's that kind of openness I crave.

KirkDarling
08-18-2010, 05:58 PM
I feel as though there is a very small perimeter one must stand in to obtain a certifiable print. Don't shoot too high, don't shoot too low, shoot everything level. Certain body parts are very taboo such as the back of the hands. If you shoot in a field of cat tails don't let the cat tails be used as a vignette on the bottom. Don't close in tight on a subject, back away to include more of the surrounding.

What the CPP candidate actually has to prove is that he knows the craft tools and techniques of the craft.

Let's say he's an available light photographer. Fine. But if all he shows are "candid" shots of kids bouncing round in open shade--altough adorable and imminently salable to their loving parents--they don't actually show anything more than anyone could do on his first day with a modern auto-focusing, autoexposure DSLR.

Where is the shot at the "sweet light" of twilight? Where is the backlighted shot with well-balanced reflected fill? Where is the shot with subtractive lighting? Where are the window shots showing effective broad and short lighting? Where is the window shot showing even lighting in depth by moving multiple subjects away from the window? Et cetera.

This is a test, after all. He has to show professionals what he can really do, not just what gets him by with the local customers.

Yes, Olympic trials do have "freestyle" events. They also have the compulsories, and a contender has to beat everyone else on the compulsories even before getting a chance with freestyle.

Oh, and btw, in the very near future the same will be possible in for CPP as well: There will be a certain number of "compulsory" techniques you must show (and you'll be able to choose them from a list), as well as some "freestyle" images.

But the CPP candidate still has to show a high level of knowing the craft.

GregYager
08-18-2010, 06:02 PM
Very good explanation Kirk. Makes a lot of sense to me. I'm trying to learn a quality way to capture excellent posing and blend it into the edginess my clients are seeking.

GregYager
08-18-2010, 06:28 PM
I just saw your second reply Kirk and I must say I like it even better. I like the idea of adding compulsory techniques.

I also wanted to add that the 4 images I uploaded here only have acne removed. Everything else is as it was shot in camera.

Missy50
08-18-2010, 06:33 PM
My DH commented to me 2 days ago that my shooting for cpp is taking away my 'joy'. And I have not uploaded anything for critique yet. It is like I have stop relaxing and just have fun with it.

Keith_A_Howe
08-18-2010, 06:33 PM
Painters and photographers have also observed the positions of people regarded as "graceful" rather than "awkward," "powerful" rather than "weak," et cetera. These are things Tannen pointed out as the universal body language of humanity...and they're all in the posing "rules."

And none of those positions/poses are wrong or breaking the rules. Whats wrong is a photographer trying to convey one idea but through either ignorance or carelessness positioning a subject in a pose that conveys the other characteristic or emotion. UNLESS! the whole story is of contrast. You might have a subject that is very beautiful or graceful, like say a ballerina, but you want to show the contrast in her character, so you put her in a pose that conveys anger or intimidation. Then it's "breaking the rules" for a purpose.

If you are talking about breaking rules in certification submissions or print competition, then because you didn't care enough to fix the problem or you didn't know better is not acceptable. If you are going to do something out of the box, then make sure it improves the image and it's intentional. You are trying to show the judges that you know the rules, you know when to follow them and you know when to break them for a reason. Remember with certification submission images, you are not trying to entice clients, you are trying to demonstrate competence. That's two different goals and it makes sense that you might use different images for different end goals. Just because certification wants you to demonstrate an undertsanding of posing and lighting "rules" does not mean that they don't want you to break out of the box and do new and innovative work. In any profession in the world, during the interview process you may be asked to prove you have the basic skill set needed to accomplish the job at an acceptable standard. However once you get the job, you will probably be expected to rise above that basic standard, excell and innovate. But if you can't do the basic skill set needed for the job, you don't get the chance to be hired. Think of certification process as applying for the job of being a CPP. Think of the requirments to pass as the starting point of what's expected, not the end.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
08-18-2010, 06:35 PM
I was writing my response while Kirk was posting his second one, so I didn't see it before i hit submit. I am sorry that I basically repeted what he said.

keith

Missy50
08-18-2010, 06:38 PM
Kirk,

Can we just take away a blemish, maybe brighten eyes a tad (if someone has allergy looking eyes), get rid of flyaway hair maybe glussan the background. But no face lifts. And if a photo only needs levels, is it ok just to fix the levels and that's it?

Roger_Williams
08-18-2010, 06:40 PM
....This is a test, after all. He has to show professionals what he can really do, not just what gets him by with the local customers. .......

Like Kirk said, for the image submission you are showing that you know how to light, pose, control DOF, etc. in a multitude of situations and locations. You have to prove that you know what you are doing and by doing that, it does kind of put you in a box, but just for the image submission. My first set of images were not good enough to pass and when I talked to the judge about them, the one biggest thing he told me is that there can be a huge difference between what is sellable and what the judges what. You have to prove to the judges that you know what you are doing, not just producing "nice" images.

Submitting images for the CPP or even after you become a CPP does not mean you can not continue to take your artistic, out-of-the-box images, it just means that in doing so, you KNOW what you are doing rather than just getting lucky once in a while.

For me, getting my CPP really raised the bar again. It was a total mentality overhaul because now, I really, really want to produce the best images I can. Artistic or not, it does not matter because good enough is no longer good enough.

GregYager
08-18-2010, 06:47 PM
I'm new here, what's your "DH" Missy?

Roger_Williams
08-18-2010, 06:58 PM
Kirk,

Can we just take away a blemish, maybe brighten eyes a tad (if someone has allergy looking eyes), get rid of flyaway hair maybe glussan the background. But no face lifts. And if a photo only needs levels, is it ok just to fix the levels and that's it?

Yes. It is OK to Photoshop your images. They do not have to be straight out of the camera. What they don't want is for someone to spend hours and hours photoshopping an image to fix the things that they should have done right when making the image. If you need to fix a fly-away or a zit, that is ok.

Mark_Levesque
08-18-2010, 07:32 PM
My DH commented to me 2 days ago that my shooting for cpp is taking away my 'joy'.

Yes. You are experiencing the discomfort which comes when one moves past the habitual and makes a move to learn something new. Another term for it is "growing pains". When you accept that as a professional, you are fundamentally responsible for ALL aspects of the image, it creates a burden where none existed before. No longer is it "good enough" to point and shoot and let the camera do all the heavy lifting. You now need to control the camera. And for most of us, that is a big step. You once could get away with leaving most of it up to the camera, composing the frame, letting it autofocus for you, releasing the shutter, and hoping for the best. And some would be good. Shoot enough, and you'd get some good ones. But being a professional means producing "good ones" on demand. Which means that hoping for the best is not a winning strategy. Accepting the responsibility to control every aspect of the image is a big one, and at first it is uncomfortable. You need to learn some new skills. It is like a newborn fawn, walking on wobbly legs at first. It's hard. But then, with practice, you are scampering around and trying new things, and suddenly a whole new world is open to you. What was once restricting is now liberating. The skills you need to learn to control your frame become the tools you use to create. It takes a while, but it is so worth it. Your joy will return, and it will be amplified by your new abilities. Don't give up.

Missy50
08-18-2010, 07:35 PM
I'm new here, what's your "DH" Missy?

Dear Husband~most of the time. He does dishes.

Missy50
08-18-2010, 07:49 PM
Yes. You are experiencing the discomfort which comes when one moves past the habitual and makes a move to learn something new. Another term for it is "growing pains". When you accept that as a professional, you are fundamentally responsible for ALL aspects of the image, it creates a burden where none existed before. No longer is it "good enough" to point and shoot and let the camera do all the heavy lifting. You now need to control the camera. And for most of us, that is a big step. You once could get away with leaving most of it up to the camera, composing the frame, letting it autofocus for you, releasing the shutter, and hoping for the best. And some would be good. Shoot enough, and you'd get some good ones. But being a professional means producing "good ones" on demand. Which means that hoping for the best is not a winning strategy. Accepting the responsibility to control every aspect of the image is a big one, and at first it is uncomfortable. You need to learn some new skills. It is like a newborn fawn, walking on wobbly legs at first. It's hard. But then, with practice, you are scampering around and trying new things, and suddenly a whole new world is open to you. What was once restricting is now liberating. The skills you need to learn to control your frame become the tools you use to create. It takes a while, but it is so worth it. Your joy will return, and it will be amplified by your new abilities. Don't give up.

Well, I didn't start doing this yesterday. In fact, looking over my portfolio, I could quickly pull 20 images from 10-20 years back (all chrome or paper) and be done with it.

I took a workshop where the instructor pointed out to shoot for competition, cpp, client.... DH just wants it over with so I will stop stressing out and quit being so picky. Of course, he cannot argue with sales. Some of those sales have been his contributions to the sessions as well.

Fuzzy_Duenkel
08-18-2010, 08:11 PM
THANKS for not being offended at my response!
A few comments on the images:

1) The weeds are annoying where they are high up on him.
2) Nice angle on the bridge shot.
3) The bride is fine but the background is kinda not interesting.
4) The tipped bride is tipped too far... and the wrong way. Generally, a head looks better looking up in a happy expression than looking down. You can have them looking down if they're "feeling down".

GregYager
08-18-2010, 08:16 PM
I hear ya there Missy. I'm not a newbie either and I remember the chrome days(I shed a tear over the loss of Kodachrome). I've been published on 36 different occasions in magazines and on book covers so I don't feel like I'm learning a new trade here. I'm just having to figure out what works here for certification as well as competition. I like the discussions I'm seeing here thus far.

I'm slowly beginning to see a conflict of interest though between PPA and clients. I read things like, "Your clients may like it and it may sell very well but it won't pass PPA" I'm not talking quality of the exposure and technical aspects of that nature. I'm talking posing and composition mostly.

Henry Ford once said all his cars would be available in your favorite color...as long as your favorite color was black. His thought process was that a car was merely a form of transportation and not an item of personal expression. Needless to say he was smart enough to move beyond that thought and as you know Ford is now available in many beautiful colors.....even black.

GregYager
08-18-2010, 08:24 PM
Hey Fuzzy,

Thanks for going back and looking. Very good input and I appreciate it. I have the "Guy in cat tails" shot without the cat tails in front of him but the mom preferred that one. (for what it's worth they annoy me too)

I was 50/50 on the tilted bride. In comparison it appeared to look better than the tilted up version so she chose this one to be displayed at the reception. I usually shoot 3 versions tilt left, straight and tilt right. That way I can cover everyone's taste.

The bride outdoors bores me to tears...it just happened to be straight so I stuck it in the mix. :)

I liked the symmetry of the guy on the dock too.

Thanks dude. You rock. Oh, and I dig the hair.

Missy50
08-18-2010, 09:52 PM
I hear ya there Missy. I'm not a newbie either and I remember the chrome days(I shed a tear over the loss of Kodachrome). I've been published on 36 different occasions in magazines and on book covers so I don't feel like I'm learning a new trade here. I'm just having to figure out what works here for certification as well as competition. I like the discussions I'm seeing here thus far.

I'm slowly beginning to see a conflict of interest though between PPA and clients. I read things like, "Your clients may like it and it may sell very well but it won't pass PPA" I'm not talking quality of the exposure and technical aspects of that nature. I'm talking posing and composition mostly.

Henry Ford once said all his cars would be available in your favorite color...as long as your favorite color was black. His thought process was that a car was merely a form of transportation and not an item of personal expression. Needless to say he was smart enough to move beyond that thought and as you know Ford is now available in many beautiful colors.....even black.

Where I studied photography, I applied to go for 'certification' at that university. At that time, in this town, that credential carried merit. I had to have x quarter hours, plus certain courses. Print my own work, mount and cut my own mats. It was designed very close to CPP. (this was in 1990). My mentor was a PPA member. She did not have a cpp, but she did have a BA in Photography/Fine Arts. A successful photographer in this area.

As soon as I was awarded that cert. She called me and told me about ppa and cpp. She said, "You do not have a Fine Arts degree, you need that cpp and you need to take it right away while everything is fresh on you mind. All you will need to do is reprint your prints. (I am a horrible color printer.)

I regret not following her advice. She is still a PPA member. She is still very successful.

Right now the flat lighting look and the broad lighting look is popular w/clients. I think it is b/c there are so many actions that will put it there at the click of a button, so many people running around w/ on camera flash, photographing on cloudy days w/no extra light. Digitals w/high ISO's and no noise are giving us that advantage now. PS tools that can take the noise out.

I have strayed away from the 'rules' w/my own photography over the years trying to please clients. And I still shoot too tight.

GregYager
08-18-2010, 11:26 PM
Well as far as the constraints go I can understand them in cpp certification. Competition is a different ballgame though. If the PPA can't see photography as an evolving art why not let the general public do so? A "People's Choice" competition where the purpose isn't to stay within the confines of any certain guidelines but rather to wow the public. After all they pay our bills and we shoot what they buy so why not have a category that covers what we do every day? As it stands now I'm shooting one style with competition in mind and another to please my clients.

I tried shooting within the guidelines on a senior session today. They looked at the first round of shots and said "These all look really cookie cutter. Have you changed styles?" I told them what I was doing and they asked me to re-shoot the outfit. I did and made them very happy. It made me think that this is a boat worth rocking.

KirkDarling
08-19-2010, 12:50 AM
Well as far as the constraints go I can understand them in cpp certification. Competition is a different ballgame though. If the PPA can't see photography as an evolving art why not let the general public do so? A "People's Choice" competition where the purpose isn't to stay within the confines of any certain guidelines but rather to wow the public. After all they pay our bills and we shoot what they buy so why not have a category that covers what we do every day? As it stands now I'm shooting one style with competition in mind and another to please my clients.

Yes, the PPA competition is a different ballgame. I can't speak to what things look like in your particular area, but what rises to the top of PPA competition is not "within the box." It's the kind of work real clients pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for.

Michael_Gan
08-19-2010, 03:35 AM
IMO, many of the "works" these days are hardly original, and seems far from "Out of the Box" thinking. Here's what Ive noticed about many of the certification candidates I've evaluated over the last 3 years:

A photographer's style is mostly limited to the camera skills they possess. With my knowledge of the necessary camera skills, I can mimic what most other photographers out there can do. But, I've seen many photographers try to copy what I do, and don't even come close.

So, photographers must ask themselves: Is my art original, or just a copy of another photographers style? And where did that photographer get that style?

Good example would be images of an all black background image of a father's arm holding his newborn in black and white. Many try to create this image, but compared to what Tim Walden does, those images don't even come close to the beauty the way he creates and executes it. This is due to the lack of fundamental camera skills.

Rick_Massarini
08-19-2010, 05:33 AM
...If the PPA can't see photography as an evolving art why not let the general public do so? A "People's Choice" competition where the purpose isn't to stay within the confines of any certain guidelines but rather to wow the public.....

I tried shooting within the guidelines on a senior session today. They looked at the first round of shots and said "These all look really cookie cutter. Have you changed styles?" I told them what I was doing and they asked me to re-shoot the outfit. I did and made them very happy. It made me think that this is a boat worth rocking.

So what makes you think that PPA can't see that photography is evolving? There were a ton of bright new innovative images in this year's exhibition that were accepted for exhibition. Have you walked around at the National convention and viewed the print show? The jurors who judge these competitions are all working photographers whose markets are changing just as your are. They have to keep up on the newer trends in order to keep their businesses fresh and viable, and new ideas that are well executed are rewarded.
And the PEC is evolving themselves by now offering electronic image submissions this year...

And what are these "guidelines" that you were shooting within? I've been around print competitions for a long time, and I've never seen or heard of any "guidelines". There are the 12 elements of a merit print - do you call those the "cookie cutter guidelines"?
Well... Heaven forbid that I should start producing "cookie cutter" work that entailed an image having a strong composition. a graceful pose, perfect color balance, having tremendous Impact and told a story!
It would be much better if I set my camera on automatic and delivered a boring overexposed image that had the subject awkwardly posed, was off color, and said nothing - and since the image was weak to start off with, I could just drop a Kubota Action on it just to prove I know what I'm doing because I bought the action CD - hey, then I could call it "MY ART" and say that the judges just didn't understand my "personal artistic perspective" and couldn't understand just how much of an "out of the box thinker" that I really am...

GregYager
08-19-2010, 06:11 AM
Oh wow Rick I think you may have misread me. Not misquoted me but misread what I'm asking in general. Allow me to explain if I may.

I'm new here. I was told people would be rude to me if I didn't adhere to strict rules in regards to what people considered graceful images. I usually take negative talk with a grain of salt so after 15 years of putting it off I decided to join anyway.

No, I have never been to a National convention. This would be part of the reason why I'm asking these types of questions.

No one has insulted my work thus far but I'm sure it will happen and that's fine by me. It only makes me improve. No one has accused me of shooting a boring, overexposed photo that had the subject awkwardly posed, was off color photo that was shot on automatic.

The "cookie cutter" comment was my client's words from a shoot today, not mine. I was simply sharing the experience. I was hoping to hear advice on how to confront that nicely with the client.

The guidelines I'm referring to are simple things that I'm seeking explanation on. An example would be the back of hands. Why are they considered ugly here? Another example would be shooting from a low angle like laying in the grass and shooting up at a child laughing when the grass tickles their toes. I was told in a critique that I should avoid that angle.

I do sincerely apologize if my questions have upset you but they are just that...questions. I'm not trying to come in here and rock the boat and make everyone sea sick. I'm simply trying to understand what works here and gather input on the thoughts that go through my head as I try to adjust.

Hoping you have a good sense of humor I'll end with this. My mother says "Heaven forbid" every time I disagree with her too. I look forward to learning from you even if you do consider me a bit of a renegade. :D

GregYager
08-19-2010, 06:16 AM
Yes, the PPA competition is a different ballgame. I can't speak to what things look like in your particular area, but what rises to the top of PPA competition is not "within the box." It's the kind of work real clients pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for.

I almost forgot to say thank you Kirk. Hearing this was music to my ears.

GregYager
08-19-2010, 06:25 AM
I took a peek at your monochrome project Michael. I like where you're going with that. Very nice work.

Rick_Massarini
08-19-2010, 07:00 AM
I may have misunderstood your perspective. We constantly see people posting comments on here about PPA and the judges who judge there only rewarding a certain kind of look that people call the PPA look or style, and the judges being out of contact with the current trends that I thought that was what you were saying. Many people criticize our judges because they don't reward the kind of work that is being sprayed all over the photographic world today as being edgy and new - but generally it's just bad because the creator didn't take time to learn his art before going out and selling it. When I hear someone disparaging the ability of our PEC jurors, I start to get a bit defensive of them - because I know them all and over the years have gained the utmost respect for them and what they do. When someone says they should have a "Peoples Choice Award" it reminds me of what our state association did a few years back at our Spring Seminar. We tried that. We had a Mother, a Father and a couple of High School Seniors (not all of the same family) to act as judges to get a true "people's perspective" on what the people thought was good. The results of this was that we discovered that the people didn't know what they were looking at, and we went back to having photographers judge our photography - it kind of like having a bunch of ordinary people from the Sahara desert and Hawaiian islands judging an ice skating competition... If you get my point...

There are so many new photographers jumping into the business right now who think that their work is so outstanding that they just don't believe the decision of qualified judges, when the judges tell them their work is not of merit quality - they assume the problem must be the judge since it really can't be their work, so it has to be that the judges just don't understand what is good NOW. But what these individuals don't understand is that the parameters that the judges use are the same that have been used to evaluate art for centuries - classical art, modern art, all types of art - if it grabs your attention and screams at you - it's good! Yes, things have changed a bit to a more casual world, but the principles that make art - ART - remain the same. And those same principles are taught in every art and photography school in the nation - but most of those who complain about the judges have never studied art or photography - most have just picked up a camera and taught themselves. They set off on a "voyage of personal discovery" and are entirely "self taught", after all, it's THEIR ART - so they don't have to explain it to anyone... but they got offended when qualified people trained in judging art tell them that their images don't quite measure up, so they lobby to get the judges standards changed. Many people feel that the lower standards of this casual world of ours requires that the standards of what is acceptable also be lowered. They standards of what has impact may change, but they will never be lowered.

There are a lot of images that might be thought of as being "cookie cutter", but those are usually the classic images and styles, reminiscent of the old-masters paintings and such - and quality posing, lighting, etc will always be rewarded based upon technical excellence, but these are far from cookie cutter images. The more classic an image is, the better it's execution must be for it to gain acceptance based on Technical Excellence. A classic image with a minor technical flaw will probably not be accepted, while an image that has huge Impact that has a few technical flaws may be accepted based on it's Impact.

The PEC judges are a very liberal group of people. They love to have their socks knocked off by an image, and will reward those images that are truly innovative and "out the box great".

And no one here is going to insult your work if you post it here. You'll get honest evaluations by people who only want to help others and improve their work and our profession overall. We also try to encourage members to participate in print competition because we honestly believe that competition is the one thing that you will learn the most from, because once you get into the competition mindset, then ordinary is no longer good enough for you - you stretch yourself at every session, and you improve your art.

And as far as sense of humor goes, I'm always making sarcastic remarks and very VERY bad jokes. You'll see some more of those soon...

Linda_Gregory
08-19-2010, 12:47 PM
Greg,

I cannot come CLOSE to addressing all your questions ad I have NOT been in the portrait business that long (although I HAVE been in the photo industry for over 20 years) but I'll try some basic answers and know that others will jump in and fill up my gaps.

Several times you've mentioned the back of the hand as being a no-no and I may be able to explain that one.

Photos are two dimensional, we add shadow to give the illusion of 3 dimensions but it's tricky. When something is presented flat on to the camera, it can appear larger than it is by reflecting a larger amount of light. If your client is sitting there in a dark dress or top, long sleeved and the back of the hand is straight to the camera and you have a fill facing that hand, it's going to show much, much brighter than everything else around it, making it grab attention away from what you really want people to see (usually), the face.

This 'rule' is normally applied to women only and another 'rule' is to bend every joint. If the back of the hand is facing the camera and the fingers are bent, the fingers are going to look much shorter than they really are, making the hand look stumpy.

I have plenty of those images, can't seem to find one now! I can show two identical files from a session last month (and on that note, no retouching has been done) where she has not moved at all but her hand changed position slightly and it makes a big difference. I don't find it terribly distracting, it's a matter of taste probably but it DOES show how the hand can catch more light than you want.

http://www.lindagregory.com/hands/hands_001.jpg

http://www.lindagregory.com/hands/hands_002.jpg

GregYager
08-19-2010, 02:04 PM
Rick,
Thank you for taking a different look at what I was saying. I agree wholeheartedly with staying within the confines of what's artistically pleasing to the eye. I've always said I was a self taught photographer but in reality that is far from the truth. I have been taught by seasoned photographers that were willing to let me pick their brain but unfortunately there aren't many of those in my area any more. Most of my technical knowledge came from books and videos. Lots of books and videos. To me Photovision has been the most refreshing idea I've seen when it comes to learning. I've been a fan of that series since volume #1. It's resources like these that I've had to turn to in order to know what's going on in the industry. I'll explain.

I live in a very small town in western Kentucky, population 3,000. I own the only full time studio in the county. County population is only 10,000. Though our population is small we are cram packed with what I prefer to call Pro-Ams. Snap shooters that love the green square. The nearest PPA member studio is an hour away and to be honest their doors are not very open to people trying to honestly learn the art. Super Monday is coming up and there's not a single photographer in the state opening their doors to photographers that day. A sad situation that I hope to change one day.

This is why I say things like "I'm feeling boxed in". I've had little to no one on one guidance in 15 years of business. Any rule or guideline is a lot to me as I've roamed free the entire time. When I question them I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm saying please explain. The critique I received was not from a judge(I don't think) but rather a senior member simply taking his time to be helpful. He critiqued my work honestly and fairly and I truly appreciate it. I'm really hoping people glance at the album I have posted on my profile and fill the comments with red ink. It's how I learn.

I think Kirk put my mind at ease best when he said basically to hang in there because competition and certification was two different ball games.

Do I think my work is competition worthy? Are you kidding me? Not even close. That's another reason why I'm here. My clients think it is but I know it's not so I'm here trying to develop myself and my art in order to live up to their expectations. I'm not looking to try and create an empire here as that would make me feel way to arrogant for my own good which would in turn make my mother slap me up side my head. Couldn't blame her for that. I'm simply trying to become the artist I know I can be and deliver a product I can truly be proud of.

Linda has done an awesome job at explaining the hands issue on women and though I may not always agree that they do distract I now understand the concept and will be concentrating on that much closer in the future.

As for the People's Choice idea that was my mind rambling about how to get the general public's take on what's catching their eye. I was thinking more like a public gallery where hundreds of people could cast votes. Not 4 or 5 untrained eyes but rather multitudes of untrained eyes to gather a feel for what they find appealing. Somewhat of a marketability test.

With all that being said I want to thank everyone for their input and if you have time take a look at the photos I have posted and toss some red ink my way. Compliments make me all warm and fuzzy inside but finding the faults makes me a better photographer.

Linda_Gregory
08-19-2010, 03:05 PM
Greg,

I don't live in a small town but things are pretty buttoned up here, too as far as sharing goes. It wasn't always like this, I've talked with some of the older photographers who lament the sharing that used to be had. They blame the lack of sharing on the easy cost entry into the profession now and refuse to help so many be their competition who aren't willing to 'pay their dues' and learn what true portraiture is about...like learning the rules and why, learning lighting, lighting patterns, etc. They buy a camera, put out their shingle, advertise they're new, fresh, not old and stodgy and THEN come to the 'old, stale guys and expect them to open their arms and teach them.

I have been lucky to have worked in and own a prolab and work with great photographers who were willing to share because they knew I was going slow and meant to produce quality. I also have met and learned TONS here and other places online.

I'm willing to travel outside my area to learn and then bring it back home. I'm not afraid of competition but it does get old to be told soandso is so much less expensive, why are you so high? Many care about quality but aren't willing to pay for it. They can move on, it's fine but it does get old.

Another note is, I've met several of the beginners who are determined to stay beginners because their marketing is lousy, their skills match and their prices reflect that. I met one who seemed to have possibilities and would recommend classes and workshops near here for her to attend and even suggested she and I and a few others get together for a day's workshop at my studio.

She declines all education, feeling if she attends, she's admitting she's not as good as she should be or as some of our mutual friends tell me, she feels she's equal to me and does not want to look as if she's not.

GregYager
08-19-2010, 03:44 PM
Wow Linda, me and that girl would be total opposites! I'm a knowledge junkie and no matter how good my clients may think my work is it's still lacking to me.

I have several Pro-Ams here that I've helped along the way and even let them use my studio. Most are great people just having fun and are no threat to my business at all. One however decided that she no longer needed anyone and opened a studio two doors down from me. She made it very public that she would put me out of business in six months. That was a year ago and my business has increased about 20% in that time. A friend once told me it's good to have a Yugo dealership next to a Mercedes dealership...it makes the Mercedes look that much better. I don't think I have Mercedes work but I loved his outlook on that.

On a different note I'm considering putting a member or two on the spot because none in my area are offering a Super Monday class. I think I'm gonna make some phone calls and ask to be a fly on the wall for a day. I'm pretty sure it'll go over like a lead balloon but that's not gonna stop me from trying. I'll try to make it easier by making sure they are well out of my general market area. We'll see.

Linda_Gregory
08-19-2010, 03:54 PM
Why not host one? (She said as she looked in the mirror)

Keith_A_Howe
08-19-2010, 05:29 PM
I am a little late getting this posted and this thread has moved on but I wanted to say that client work and competition work are not two different things. Every merit for my Master's was from client work. Since then my entries have been mainly client work and in the last few years creative self assignments. With the exception of two commercial images to prove to myself I could merit a commercial print, none of my entries ever started out as shooting for competition and I have done fairly well. Many photographers do choose to create images for comp and there is nothing wrong with that. But you absolutely do not have to do it that way to succeed.

Keith

Rick_Massarini
08-19-2010, 07:02 PM
Greg,

If there's no one in your area offering a Super Monday, why not take the initiative and travel to one? I have flown from New Orleans to Houston to attend one with Rick Staudt, to Dallas for Dave Cisco's Super Monday, to Atlanta to spend a day with David Smith and to Pottsoboro Texas to attend Terry Spearman's Super Monday, and several others. Check the listing and see if there is a photographer who you have heard of or whose work you admire; call them up and make sure that they are definitely giving the program, and just go there and learn from them. I've learned a lot from the photographers whom I have traveled to study with, and have become friends with them. And... I've learned more from some of them after the Super Monday than during the Super Monday... All it costs you is an airline flight and a cheap hotel room...

GregYager
08-19-2010, 10:32 PM
Keith,

To begin with, thank you for your patience with me in two threads at once. It says a lot of good things about you. I like your blunt, straight to the point way of explaining yourself. This old hippie can learn a lot from you. I've seen your work and yes, I'm awed. A question I would like to ask is this:
Are you featured in any training videos where I could see you in action? I'm not looking to copy your style but I think I could learn plenty from your capturing technique.

GregYager
08-19-2010, 10:36 PM
Rick,

I think I'll do just that. I know you're a busy man but would you have anyone you would recommend me to? I would prefer one on shooting technique as opposed to one one business or editing.

farrisphoto73
09-08-2010, 02:47 AM
Wow. What an amazingly informative thread. I'm just beginning the process of CPP and now have a much better understanding of what is necessary. One of my instructors once told me that in order to break the rules effectively you have to understand them intuitively. I'm still working on the rules. This has been tremendously helpful.

GregYager
09-08-2010, 03:29 AM
I'm glad it helped you. It's true that much knowledge can be gathered from a constructive debate.