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Thread: Possible Competition Print?
12-10-2008, 11:34 PM #1
Arlyn DeBruyckere Member
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Central MN
Possible Competition Print?
Does it stand a chance or am I doomed to another 78?Arlyn DeBruyckere
12-11-2008, 01:38 AM #2
Do you want brutal honesty? If so then in my opinion this will not merit. The lighting is probably ok if it was printed darker. The challenges are it's a floating head in a sea of hair. The little bit of shoulder that does show is too bright, it will need to be toned way down so it doesn't compete with the face. But the biggest challenge is her expression. She looks like a smart alec teen with an attitude. A fierce rebellious look can work - but she looks like she is PO'd at her Mom or a teacher or something. Part of why a serious expression often works well for competition is that when you smile - your eyes squint a bit so bigger smile - bigger squint. In a serious expression the eyes usually stay open wider. The exception to that is when a face is showing disdain - when you feel contempt or disdain for something again you tend to squint and that's what I am seeing here. That contempuous or disdainful expression can work well for competition but the rest of the image needs to support the expression. In a tight cropped face like this it's all about the eyes and the expression. This expression just doesn't make me want to keep looking at the image.
The other challenge this image has, is there is nothing else to help it along. All we have is that face with an expression that doesn't sell the image. So something else needs to be there to engage the viewer. Imagine this same expression on a 3/4 length standing in a doorway that looks like middle America suburbia. Her hands shoved in her pockets - her whole body language tense and angry. The camera is inside the house looking out the doorway at this girl. Then through the doorway, parked in the drive we see - probably out of focus - her punk boyfriend waiting on a motorcycle. Maybe we even see part of the back of mom or dad in the edge of the frame. Now we have a whole story that explains why her expression is what it is. She wants to go out with a boy that Mom and Dad don't approve of.
It is not necessary to always have a whole scene or story. Sometimes a close up face is enough - but there has to be something about the face, the expression or the exceptional technical skill that engages the judges. I just don't see that in this particular image.
KeithKeith A. Howe
02-05-2009, 08:19 PM #3
A chance or a 78 ?
I looked at the image you asked about. I see an image where the hair is all over the place and should have been combed. Her eyes are turned too far thereby showing too much of the whites. The crop is too close. It is flat lit with no definitive lighting pattern. In a competition that gives a score, if I were on the panel I'd give this a 73.
As one person said ... images should be dramatic, unique, breathtaking and more. If an image comes around that gets all 5 judges sitting forward on the edge of their seats ... that is an image to strive for.
02-06-2009, 09:47 PM #4
Arlyn DeBruyckere Member
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Central MN
D. Craig Flory had posted a comment about this photo and I wish it was still here so I could quote it correctly. When downloaded the photo and compared it to my original it was about 2/3 of a stop lighter (about 25 RGB points in Photoshop). So I'm linking the original (very large) here
It is shot wide open at f2.8. There is no post processing other than the conversion to jpeg. Here is a close up of just her one eye that is in focus if you don't want to load the 3+ meg file.
One title I was considering was "Whatcu lookin at?"
Craig's suggestions of brushing the hair and turning the face toward the camera so the eye would be more centered would totally change the story of the photo. If I wanted photos like he was suggesting I would consider
But those would not, in my opinion, have the same impact. Going through the images with another photographer I was stopped at the first image. He asked me "WHAT did you say to her?". Just the one eye and the attitude - that is what cause the impact for me. The only thing I would add would have been a tattoo on her shoulder or maybe some other facial jewelry.
It is too late now to get anything ready to enter. It is also apparent that the judges do not see what I see and I do not see what they see. The suggestions I have received would totally change the story of the image. This suggests to me that either the story is bad (how can you have a bad story that is made of tension?) or I very poorly executed the story in the images of the judges (but I don't understand why many nonphotographer friends got the story right away). This is my frustration. How is it that what the judges see is so totally different from what I see and what many people I know see? How is it that even when they try to explain to me what is wrong with the image that I can't begin to imagine what they see? How is it that MY story is incorrect or at least that what I see as my story is so far off in the image that they can't even comment on it? I don't even know how to begin to address these issues. Until I can I see print competition as a waste of my time and resources.Arlyn DeBruyckere
02-07-2009, 01:23 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
- Atlanta, GA
The judges don't care about that background. I wish they would - I wish you could explain exactly why this image perfectly captures a given moment, emotion, relationship, whatever. But we don't have that luxury. Unfortunately print competition is concerned with what impresses other photographers and that's technical proficiency. If all the technical elements are in play then the judges will tell themselves a story about the image. If, however, they perceive a technical fault that story goes out the window.
You made the comment that of the images from this session you and another photographer were both struck by this image. Of the 3 of this girl you linked to I would agree that the first is the most arresting. Even so, competition isn't about which is the best image amongst those shot, but which is a great image irrespective of what came before it or after it. Print comp is about how you use composition to communicate and idea or a story. I can see how in the context of this session this image said something different about this girl. However, it didn't say the same thing to you, Keith, Craig or I and I suspect that's why you're seeing folks comment that it wouldn't score well. Not that it isn't a saleable image, or an interesting one for this client or your portfolio.
My favorite photos have no place in print competition. The ones I use to promote my business and create my brand image wouldn't merit either. The images that attract my best clients don't stand a chance in the loan collection. Nevertheless I have used critiques like this one to further my understand of what (usually ) makes for effective composition. Understanding this stuff and integrating it into your shooting as second nature does help. Having said that I certainly support the stance that print comp does not represent the only type of good or great imagery out there. I hear the "get the judges on the edge of their seat" comment all the time. I know that what puts me on the edge of my seat is different than it seems to be for the judges. Nevertheless, if I want to earn my Master's (and I do for my own reasons) then I have to play their game.
So, if you don't want to compete by all means don't. But if you think you can't learn from critiques I think you're mistaken. I agree that if you changed the image in the ways that were presented (combed hair, more space, etc.) that it would change the tone of the image, and that wouldn't necessarily help. I also think on the other hand that some of the advice (less white of the eye, more directional light) would have made this image more successful in the way that you intended. I think the positive thing to take from this (competition aside) is that while you are happy with the image you have created (and hey, I think you should be) with a few tweaks the next time you go for something like this you can do even better.