I have this idea for a new project where we criticize the hell out of my photographic efforts. I mean really, if you don’t criticize someone how can you possibly expect them to learn? (keep in mind I’m just a girl with a desire and a humble point and shoot camera. I’m working within my limitations because all the the photographers I know keep saying it’s not the camera it’s the photographer blah blah blah…)

For instance, I took these shots during the week at the local Anthropologie store (and also learned a valuable lesson about charging the camera more often) and I don’t feel like I got the shot I was looking for, but I’m not sure I know what to try differently…

So, I like the door framing and texture of number 1, but somehow the shot seems to lack a focal point.

Number 2 captures the whole of the elements, but lacks depth.

Number 3 & 4 show better the way the plants spiral around, but there’s something off with the angle.


Anyone care to offer a suggestion before I go back for another try at this shot? I love that I learn something with every shot I take, so go ahead, take a shot at the shot…Help a girl out :-)

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5 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Dan Zenz

    I see what you were trying for but in this local it may not work. The background is too busy and distracting. you could try from the other way(with the dresses in the foreground) but I don’t know what is behind them at that point. Don’t be afraid to change your eye point up or down to remove some of the background. Overall, it seems flat for such a 3D layout.

    March 8th, 2011

  2. madilyn

    I’m amazed at the clarity. Practice practice.

    March 8th, 2011

  3. I like the last one, I like the parallel lines (the dresses, the lamps) contrasted with the swirl of the plants. But I think the first photo has the most potential. It cuts out all the excess colour and “mess” of the background . Except that you need to crop it so the doors are at an equal distance from the photo’s edge. And you need to cut out that sky at the top. In my opinion, you could actually crop it radically to halfway across the doors – ie, a much tighter framing. Go for something unusual, something that isn’t automatically obvious, and escape the cliches. Also, you need to move yourself slightly to the left, so the interior of the shop is more perfectly framed by the doors.

    Would you be willing to get down on the floor to photograph things from a new and interesting angle? For example, with the spiral of plants, perhaps it would show them off best if you were kneeling down and shot the spiral from its start and it framed the shot as it curved upwards.

    To be frank, I am not attracted to photos with so much in them – all that clashing colour and light and detail drowns my attention. But that kind of thing is entirely subjective opinion of course. And if your intent is to capture the swirl of the plants, then you have to have everything else as well. I’m honestly not sure that you’re going to get an amazing photo of this particular thing, because you’re going to have all the clutter in the background distracting from the feature, which I assume is the swirl of plants. The closest I thing you can get is by framing it with the outer doors – just be sure to make it a tight frame.

    I hope so much this hasn’t sounded critical, I certainly am no expert!

    Really love your blog.
    sarah recently new book

    March 8th, 2011

  4. Sharon

    This is going to sound like a non answer, but trust me, there is actual content in there.

    I am a very minimalist and literal kind of photographer. By that, I mean that I don’t do tremendous manipulation of the scene – moving things around, taking things out or putting them in. In that sense I’m very photojournalistic – I take the photo of the things as they actually are. Right now, closeups of feet or applying lipstick are very popular in wedding photography, but I never stage a bride getting ready. I shoot her doing her makeup in whatever she’s wearing, wherever she’s sitting, and adapt myself to the scene instead of the other way around. Instead of asking her to pose with her skirts held up while she or her attendants put on her shoes, I shoot it as it happens. That means that sometimes, I lose the shot because someone steps in front of me. But when I get it, it has so much more depth, intimacy and feeling than if I’d carefully posed it.

    After they’re in the computer, I’ve learned to love filters and black and white with selective colorizing (things I had no patience for with film), but I will not adjust the size and shape of body parts; no waist whittling, breast inflating or moving the distance between eyes. (Trust me, the eyes get tweaked as much or more than other body parts in advertising shots.) I don’t color the sky or paint the flowers. I want to see things as they are, or I’d be a painter and not a photographer.

    Now, having said all that, advertising photos are different. I’ve photographed full wineglasses next to the tire of a car, and appetizer plates on a running board. For advertising, I definitely move things around. Place settings might be shifted closer to the centerpiece, magazines fanned out perfectly, clothes clothespinned behind the model. During a wedding, I will pose the hands of the couple directly over the bouquet and shoot a closeup, even though that would never happen “in real life,” because it highlights the rings and flowers. It’s almost an “advertising” shot.

    So, ask yourself, is this about selling the product? Am I shooting this as a “Please want me,” or using the setting as architecture or sculpture, focusing on the lines? If you lay on the ground and shot up, so the shapes are distorted, or if you shot a closeup of the striped dress, with just a sliver of plant hanger and a few leaves in the frame, what would that say? Is it what you wanted to say?

    And sometimes, something that looks fabulous in person does not translate to film. Sometimes, something vastly ordinary will look great, just because you framed it right or the light hit it just so.

    This is a long winded way of saying, ask yourself, what did you want the photo to say? Did it end up saying that?

    March 8th, 2011

  5. admin

    @Sharon I’m still experimenting and finding my way around, but I think I am trying to see if I can technically achieve certain things, capture things. I do like to play with the effects you can get with photoshop for fun. I’m also not adverse to a little posing to achieve an effect or statement. If you over-pose you loose the meaning anyway, so it’s it’s own punishment.

    I think it’s interesting so far that shots of people involve you to illicit an intimacy that I’m rarely comfortable with so far (big surprise, right?). But when I do photograph them, I don’t like a lot of posing. You don’t capture “them” that way.

    But yeah, you’re bottom question is the right one. Mostly I liked the way the succulents were set up and spiraled around the clothes. It was interesting and had textures that I liked. But I think @Dan and others were right, there might have been too much background to get the focal point I wanted and it did come out looking very “flat”. Also, @Sarah noted, I really only tried this shot from one angle. She saw what I was interested by.

    March 8th, 2011

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