View Full Version : New to the Print Competition - Critique, please!

04-23-2007, 02:11 AM
Hi all,

I've been too scared in the past to put my images out there for competition - mainly because I'm afraid of what people might say. However, one of the biggest things I've learned in the past year is to take chances, get out of my comfort zone and go for it. After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

SOoooooo, here it goes. I was considering my images for possible inclusion and want as much critique as you all are willing to give. I will only post one for now - this image is not prepped for competition - it's just the image. If I can get it to a point where I feel it is worthy to be submitted, I will prep it better.


Thank you all in advance!

04-23-2007, 02:30 AM

Welcome to the forums and to posting. It will be great having you here.

The first thing that caught my eye was the white of the baby's clothing. Then I was distracted by the white of the fence in the background.

For some reason I really love the extremely shallow depth of field. I don't know how that would go over in competition as I am just learning myself. I started visualizing and I think the shallow depth of field and having the mother dress in white in front of a white background would make a really lovely high key portrait.

Just my 2 cents. Please keep posting.



04-23-2007, 02:55 AM
Hi Dave,
Thank you so much.

This was a baptism for the baby. I think will tone down the whites a bit, however knowing that it was a baptism, does that change your mind at all? If I titled it accordingly would it be better? Thanks again, I really, truly appreciate it.

04-23-2007, 03:57 AM
Congratulations on deciding to take the plunge. Getting the courage up to try is the hardest step.

I think you will have a difficult time with this image for several reasons. Most importantly - there is no emotional connection between the Mom and baby. It almost looks like two seperate portraits. Next you are mixing keys. Extremely high key on baby (blown out highlights will be a problem) and wicker chair against a very dark low key background. The very soft focus on what is basically a formal traditional portrait is not in keeping with the story of the image. If there was tender interaction between Mom and baby - perhaps the soft focus would be more appropiate. I always say there are two kinds of images - what something looks like and what something feels like. This image is a record keeping photograph of what they looked like on the day of the bapitism. I get no story about how this Mom feels about her baby. Lastly the expressions - on both subjects they are kind of blank - I like serious expressions but these do not connect with the viewer. I get no feeling of what's going on in their thoughts.

Now - what you did right - Lighting! that is usually the biggest issue for a beginner and you got it down. Nice soft short light with a gradual transition from highlight to shadow. There is good seperation betwen Mom and background which is great because Mom's hair is dark and so is the background. Just work on creating an image that tells a story of the love and tenderness between Mom and her child - then it will have impact. It will remind the judges of how they feel about their own children.

By the way - I only mention this because you are new and don't know me - I am a nationally affliated juror - which means I am qualified to judge affilated competitions and at national comp. In fact I did judge national the last three years. I don't like to flaunt my credintials but otherwise you have no way of weighing the validity of my comments.


04-23-2007, 02:32 PM

I should have mentioned in my original post that I have zip experience in competition. This year will be my first time competing. Keith and others have helped me so much over the past half year when they make remarks about the work I post here.

I still think the portrait would be better if you could work with it in your photo editing program to make it a high key portrait. Extract the mother and child from the background and put them in front of a plain white background. You may or may not want to change the color of the mother's dress to a lighter shade or even white.

My extended 2 cents.:)


04-23-2007, 02:48 PM
Dave is correct - changing the background and dress to white would improve the image. However the other issues I mentioned would still hold it out of the merit catergory IMO. It all depends on how much time you want to invest and what your goals are. If you have plenty of free time to work on the print in PS and will be happy to participate and score in the mid 70's, then by all means this would be an acceptable choice with that end in mind. Of course we all want to get merits - but we have to start somewhere. So just because a print may not merit, does not mean that you shouldn't enter it.


04-24-2007, 12:16 AM
Thank you both for your awesome critique - I really appreciate it. You have given me lots to think about.

Keith - You know, I think I really needed an outsider to look at it and tell me this stuff like you did. The baby was fidgety and cried almost the whole shoot and the mom was a stressed-out wreck. So as I look at this image, I see the few moments of peace that they saw in about a one hour period. Now that you point out the lack of connection - you are totally right. About the highlights - they aren't blown out on my computers, which are calibrated to match the output of my lab, so they would probably print with all the detail I see (but you apparentlly can't). I guess the highlights are the least of my worries on this one.

I really don't think I want to put that much work into it just to make it an OK print. I think it already is a really nice image and taking that time just to make up a couple points doesn't make much sense to me. Really, I just want the experience of having judges look at my images and tell me what they think. I've got 1000s of other images I can look through, so maybe I'll put this one away and pull out some others.

So, I can't say it enough, thank you again and I'm off to go search for more!!!! :eek:


04-26-2007, 02:20 AM

Don't get discouraged by this post. When you are looking through your images look for impact first and formost. You have nice light direction on this image so I am assuming that your lighting is good. But for others benifit, light direction is important too. I hope to see other images from you. Keith

04-26-2007, 02:52 AM
Thanks for posting. Listen to Keith. Let me repeat that...listen to Keith. He doesn't have like 1400 print merits for nothing. This is a first step, and it is really hard to look at your own work and give it an honest critique. that's why posting here can be so helpful. Good luck! Hope everything is cool where you are. You missed a great convention this weekend!