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The Hardest Rapid Fire Critique I Have Ever Done: Photography

Jared Polin May 7, 2014 Comments Off

I get asked to critique a lot of peoples work and usually they are people I have never met. So, critiquing their work is not an emotional thing, meaning I don’t have a personal connection with them.

But when I get asked to critique a friends work I have to be very careful how I word things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t change the harshness level or let them slide on certain things. I simply try and watch my words and the message I am getting across.

My long time friend Taylor whos first introduction to a DSLR was when I handed her a D3000 with a 35 1.8 has come a long way in her photographic journey. Click Here to see the Seeing And Feeling Video. Since that time in 2011 she has continued to shoot, picking up different cameras and lenses but rarely asking me for my opinion.

The reason she never asked my opinion is she knows how opinionated I am. Plus she knew if she brought up a subpar lens that my answer would be swift and harsh.

Now she is out taking real paying jobs, she is shooting weddings, baby portraits, candids and pretty much anything that catches her eye.

I am not sure if she asked me for this critique or I asked to see her top 10. But I wanted to see her progression from 2011 until now.

When it comes to critiquing peoples work in my opinion it’s not about finding and ripping every small mistake. It’s about finding those issues but giving positive reinforcement to how they can be corrected or changed.

It makes zero sense to rip someone totally down to the point where they feel like they have failed as a photographer. This may work for some but that’s not how I like to learn nor how I want to critique others.

I chose not to look at any of her images before doing the critique. I wanted you all to see my honest reaction as soon as I saw the images.

What is great about having these sets on flickr is I can see the meta data. I can see what lens, what modes and a bunch of other data that helps me point someone in a direction.

Some people say that the gear, lenses and settings shouldn’t matter during a critique. I don’t agree with that at all. That may be the case with pros who are getting ripped apart but when it comes to someone who is learning, the only way to help them evolve is to see the settings.

I want to know were they in Manual or aperture priority or even in auto. What was the shutter speed, ISO and aperture. By knowing all of these things I can better understand the entire photo and help the photographer with some different ideas for settings.

Now that brings us to the critique of Taylors new work. It is not easy to critique the work of someone you are close with. I definitely watch my words and tone to make sure the perception was not that I am ripping her just to rip her.

I am not going to rehash all of the things I said in the video above but I do want to point out some thoughts. Her images are very very close throughout this set. What I mean by close is they are not far off in my opinion from all being keepers.

You have the simple shot of her daughter with the statues. With slight changes that image can go from “that’s nice” to “wow”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand when you are in the situation the images may change quickly and not allow you time to make certain changes. But by me mentioning different ideas and thoughts during a critique, that may resonate in the back of the mind on the next shoot.

Seeing shots of her daughters head from behind with the goggles strap on it is one of my least favorite images from the set. Like I explained in the critique, it needed more context. It possibly could work as part of a photo story but on its on it just didn’t.

You hear me talk about photo stories quite often. How an some images can stand on their own without anything surrounding them where others just don’t fit unless they have more context. When I am shooting I am always thinking about context, could this image stand on its own or does it need to be part of a story? If I shoot this tight will all context be lost but if I shoot it wide will it tell the entire story?

I used to love shooting everything extremely tight but I soon realized that the better images have more context and tend to be wide angles. One mistake people make when shooting with a wide angle is they don’t get close enough to their subject. Their subjects are there but they are very small. The key to a wide angle is filling the frame with your subject while keeping the defining parts of the scene intact.

Taylor asked to see my critique before she would agree to let me put it live. She was slightly worried with what my harshness level would be. But when she watched it she got it, she said it really helped her and was not to harsh. That’s exactly what it’s about, it’s about her coming back to me telling me that she took something from the critique.

Critiques are meant for one person to give their opinion. I am not looking to create a clone of my own work but simply interject my thoughts based off of what I think makes a solid image or photo story.

Keep up the great work Taylor.

If You’re A Scared Photographer You Should Quit And Sell Your Gear: RANT

Jared Polin May 6, 2014 Comments Off

I am deciding on gear to take to Israel right now. I am taking my Nikon D4s with the Hebrew Trinity but I am debating wether or not to take a backup in way of the D610 or D800. I honestly think I will opt to not even take a backup to save the space and having to take extra chargers.

I have heard some people saying “don’t risk” your D4s take X because it’s lights. I would never leave my best body at home because “something” could happen. That’s the point of owning pro gear or gear in general. You want to take it with you any where you go.

It’s like when people ask me “what’s the best point and shoot I could buy to take on vacation because I don’t want to take my DSLR”.

I understand some people want to travel light and not have so much gear but if your planning on taking photos why not take them with the gear you spent all this money on. I want to have my best gear with me to hopefully get the best images.

The one other statement that always gets me is “I only shoot RAW when the pictures are important. That makes no sense, every picture I take I consider to be important. You never know when that best shot is going to happen. I don’t care if it’s a job, a family picture, a snap shot, I want the best quality possible every time.

The moral of the story is I answered my own question, I wont be taking a backup with me to Israel. Shoot on the other hand maybe I should……..

5 Min Portrait: YouTube Thumbnail Photo Shoot

Jared Polin May 3, 2014 Comments Off

I am back with another 5 Minute Portrait and this time around my goal was to capture a YouTube Thumbnail for a fitness video with Maria.

Thumbnails on YouTube are very important and can be the difference between getting people to watch your video or not. But a lot of people tend to try and cheat their thumbnail by selecting it to be something that has nothing to do with the video itself.

In this case my goal was to capture a killer thumbnail for an ab workout video with Maria. Maria is looking to create A Fitness YouTube Channel so I helped out by filming a few videos for her. Since we already had her video shoot in the can it only made sense to take photos in the same situations for the thumbnail.

13913944399 5037c3993b 5 Min Portrait: YouTube Thumbnail Photo Shoot

The photo shoot went pretty smoothly as you will see from the photos in the video and below. But I ran into a major issue when I attempted to import the files from the CF card to the computer. Somehow the card ended up getting corrupted and could not be read by any computer. I would think this was mostly my fault for putting the card in the card reader and removing it a bunch of times without ever actually exporting the photos. I exported the video before but not the photos. And yes if you are wondering I did eject the card before removing it from the card reader.

I was pretty bummed that I lost the files but I figured I would try and recover them like I have heard many people have done. I first attempted using the Pro recovery software from Sandisk and that was not able to recover anything. I than found a different one online which I purchased and it had success in pulling hundred of files.

It found all of the photos from Maria’s photo shoot along with hundreds of other photos going back months. Now it did not find any RAW images but it did find jpegs which is better than nothing. If this was a professional shooting I would not have been totally SOL. Sure the files that it recovered would not be good enough for much more than an 8×10 they were perfectly usable for online use.

Nikon D3300 Users Guide

Jared Polin May 1, 2014 Comments Off

Here is your FREE Tutorial User’s Guide for the NIkon D3300. What you will find in this 40 Min video is an explanation of what every button does as well as what setting in the menu I recommend.

This is a very powerful camera with a ton of features so I make sure to run down and explain as many of the important features as possible.

The one thing I can not stress enough is the importance of just getting out and shooting. One of the only ways you will become a better photographer is to GET OUT AND SHOOT.

Now I recommend watching this FREE GUIDE first, then going out to explore and capture the world in images.

Israel FroKnowsPhoto Meetup At Google HQ: 12 May 9:00am

Jared Polin April 30, 2014 Comments Off

I am headed to Israel from 5 May to 12 May and will be holding a meetup at Google Headquarters in Tela-Viv at 9am on 12 May Monday.

This is a FREE event open to anyone to come out and have a conversation. All you have to do is e mail officemanager@kinetis.org.il and let them know your name, phone number and how many people will be coming. They will e mail you back on Thursday 8 May with all the information you will need to attend. You will need to e mail them to attend this FREE event.

Feel free to share this information with your local photo clubs or schools.

I look forward to seeing and hanging out with you guys very soon.