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Portfolio Review

 
 
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2004 08:05 pm
I need your help!

I just posted several photos from my new portfolio on the Original Art and Photography gallery (some may have inadvertantly ended up in "baby photos" since that seems to be the default). They may not be up yet, since all photos must obtain site approval.

I have been a professional studio photographer for the last 15 years but I am thinking of changing direction to a more documentary style of portrait.

I would love to know what you think of these photos. Please be honest, in fact, be brutal. Do you think this style of portrait is marketable? To what market? What do you like about them? What don't you like about them? Would you be willing to pay for portraits like this of your child?

Please know that I'm not trying to sell any services or solicit any business from members of this site. I just thought I could get an honest opinion here.

Thanks!
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2004 08:55 pm
This is certainly a marketable style. But it's got to look natural. In a couple of those I just wonder if you dressed up the kid for the photo, and that won't work...but if you are catching real stuff, then yeah. We all love cute kid pictures.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2004 09:20 pm
Hi stuh and thank you for your reply.

There are about a dozen photos that I've posted and I only see three up right now.

I didn't dress the kid up for the photo but that is certainly something to consider. I really want to avoid the staged look - as a studio photographer I've done that for a long time.

I'm trying to deal with the "cute" description. I suppose they are "cute" and probably cuter if they were your own kid -- but I'm not really aiming for cute but instead trying to capture some personality.

Let me know if your "cute" description changes after the rest of the photos comes up!

Thanks again.
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stuh505
 
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Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2004 10:31 pm
my dad and step mom are always taking these sorts of pictures of their children hehe
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 07:08 am
No hehe necessary. That is certainly a legitimate observation because many people do take photos of their kids.

I also know that many people are willing to spend on portraits. From my studio work I know that they prefer the unposed, unproped, photos - the portraits that show more expression. But you can't really catch a kid being a kid in a studio setting. Thats why I was thinking of moving in this direction for children's portraits. But there's no doubt that they are just a step or two removed from a snapshot.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 10:06 am
[posted on wrong thread]

Wow.

I know you're a professional and all, but WOW!

As someone who follows around a tot of the same age with my trusty Rebel, I know it's hard to get shots like that. Those are great.

Composition, expressions, color, focus... the whole package.

What sort of feedback are you looking for?

Of all of them, I liked the colorized one the least, but as a market niche, it was well done. Just not my taste.

Loved "giggle".

(I need to experiment with B&W...)
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 10:13 am
Just copied and pasted that from the other thread, now reading what you say.

VERY marketable. I get brochures all the time from kid photographers, I would go for you in an instant over what I've seen. Again with the coloring, not my taste, but something I've seen and something I think there is in fact a market for, as one of several in your portfolio.

DEFINITELY on capturing personality. A big strength.

Some people might be uncomfortable with the naked torso thing, even if the subject is a boy. (Not immediately clear.) This is silly IMO, but from a marketing perspective. Same with "m.grass" -- a little Sally Mann (Sally Mann? who got in trouble for too much, what, "sensuality" in photos of her children.)

Overall I think your portfolio looks extremely strong and marketable.

One question -- do you think it will transfer? One kid I know is Little Mo, not sure of the other, but have the impression that she is someone you know well, too... do you think you will be able to go to someone's house or have them come to yours and get these kinds of natural expressions out of the kids in that one appointment?
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 10:21 am
That's exactly the kind of feedback that I was looking for, sozobe, thank you!

I don't know the other kid well although she is my grand-niece. This was only the second time I'd ever seen her since she lives far away. Those five images were culled from about 7 rolls that I shot of her, over the course of two afternoons.

Honestly though, I get a good reaction from kids and I'm pretty unobtrusive when shooting. The biggest problem is parents getting in the way and distracting their child from his/her "moments".

I'm setting up some other shoots both with kids I know and one's I don't to fill out the portfolio so I should have more to add over the next several weeks. But yes, I think it will transfer.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 10:56 am
Two afternoons, that's impressive.

I have maybe 10 pictures I like that much after almost 4 YEARS of shooting pics of the sozlet. :-P

I think you've got something here, boomer. Good luck!
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:06 am
Thanks again, soz.

I figured out that I spent about an hour per image of shooting time. However, there are several of the "rejects" that they've requested enlargements of - I told them they had to wait and see these first. I think they'll be happy with the results.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:11 am
ptooey

Just lost my post.

Gonna go do lunch, mull some more and post more.

Was trying to tell you about a friend that has a photog out to the farm to take pix every year. Thought a link to some of her work would help explain my thinking on what she'd like (she's an example of the kind of market I think you're after - willing to pay a reasonable amount for results). m.a.'s pix

The colourized one would probably be part of a package she'd like.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:17 am
My next question, just curiousity, I'm sure you've already figured this out, is how much you'd have to charge to cover costs/ make a profit, and whether there is a market for that kind of cost. I say I'd choose you over the others I've seen, but I've only had professional pics taken three times; twice at a chain (The Picture People) and once from a pro like you who had a one-time deal with a local toy shop.

So using myself as a trial customer, as much as I love them, I don't know how much I'd pay for them -- I can't see paying enough for you to make a profit with that kind of outlay of film and time.

But people DO use high-end studio photographers all the time.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:17 am
My two favorites are t. eyes, and t. tree. The personality of the child really comes through. I agree with soz about the naked boy. Some people might take umbrage. What I may do is go over each pic, and make some remarks right in the gallery. I think that it would be easier for me to make an instant reaction, if the picture was right in front of me.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:27 am
Those are lovely pictures, eBeth, but not what I was expecting! I thought it would be portraits.

I can't wait to hear your reaction to my shots.

Pricing might be a challenge, soz. I imagine that the time involved will make it expensive. Of course, I can shoot digital and cut down on film costs. I usually still shoot film for myself because I want all the little photos and find that I don't do that when I shoot digital.

Figuring out a way to make it cost effective would be more of a problem for the future. Right now I just want to get a portfolio together which will help me research the time outlay and determine pricing. I don't expect that I'll be starting up anything until after the new year, at best.

Thank you, Phoenix, I'll be looking forward to reading your comments. Your comments, along with soz's, about the naked (he's not really naked!) certainly will make me reconsider it's inclusion.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 11:39 am
You've really made me think - soz.

What I need to invest in is one of those dinky digital cameras.

I shot most of these with my little cheapy pocket camera. It's kind of range-finder camera so you don't have to focus or anything.

Hmmmmm.....
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 12:02 pm
Those were with a cheapy pocket camera? Well there goes my "if I only had the right equipment" excuse... ;-)

The thing with digital, especially with kids pictures, is that a big part of the marketing is "keep the memories forever" sort of thing, and from what I've read even the top quality digital printing has a much faster decay than regular film printing.

That may have changed since I last read about it, though (~2 yrs ago?).
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 12:09 pm
I think all but one or two of those shots were taken with my Canon Elf which I paid about a hundred dollars for at a pawn shop several years ago. (Nobody can ever accuse me of being a gear-head.)

I have all of my digital files printed at the photo lab on real photo paper so there isn't any fading or decomposition of the images over time. I have them done at a little mom and pop lab near my home. They do great work - correcting each photo for color and exposure - you're not going to get that sending your film off to some big lab. You pay a little more but it is darn well worth it.

I do think the dyes used in top quality computer prints are much more stable these days. The thing that you can't avoid is that it is still just dye on top of paper. To me, the silver content of real photo paper gives them images a quality that you will never get from a coputer print.
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 02:05 pm
Quote:
What I need to invest in is one of those dinky digital cameras.


whoa...in order to APPROACH the quality you get out of a $200 film camera you need to spend more like $8,000 for a digital camera...
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Aug, 2004 02:25 pm
I get great results with my Olympus E-10, a digital camera which sells for about $1,000. I use it for all of my studio work and have blown photos up to 30x40 with no problems at all. Honestly, you can't tell the difference between something shot on it and on film.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2004 07:50 am
A special thanks to those of you who posted your comments under the photos!

I was concerned how people would like the cropping and it seems that some people like it, while other's dont. That preference is something I would definately want to find out about before I started shooting a session.

I know the cropping is non-traditional for portrait work and there are several "reasons" that I crop that way. The first is that it is a personal preferencel The next is that, with kids, I like to work close in - about an arms length away. That's one of the reasons I often use my dinky camera. Getting up close allows me to interact with the kid and capture better expressions while leaving out a lot of distracting background clutter. This may sound a bit silly but, when working up close, the roundness of a person's head makes composition difficult. Finally, when I get a kid involved, I'll shoot very fast, making precise cropping difficult.

The comments about the sensuality of the "m.grass" photo are interesting to me. There is actually a series of about seven photos taken within a few minutes of that one. In most of them she's laughing so perhaps that one struck me for its calm. Certainly another thing to consider.

I might have to rework the "t.pool" photo, cropping out the torso. I really like the expression and that is the reason I included it.

Thank you all so much for your help. You have given me much to consider.
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