SYP Feedback / Review

I recently submitted a series of portrait images to Lensculture, results announced March / April. I asked for a review to help my development. Reading the review, which was most helpful, I can see that I could have conceptualized my series far more effectively. This is something I’m not very good at and need to work on. I enjoy photographing people that want to be photographed. This means facing the camera and posed ever so briefly. I do wonder if an outside perception is that these are therefore not serious portraits? There is no art or artifice to them, no mood or clever lighting, but does that make them of less value? I write these comments in response to the review below.

Reviewer Portfolio Feedback

Hi Robin-

It’s wonderful when I can see the photographer’s sense of joy in the photographs they are making. And this is definitely evident in how you are making the photographs and how the subjects are looking back at you and your camera. There’s a sense of exchange, joy and kindness in their faces. It’s a touching group of images. 

If I understand your request for feedback correctly, you are interested in going into food and still life photography. And a part of food photography often includes portraiture. In my opinion, these portraits are very good. BUT… they are good in the context of a documentary photography project. My concern is that they may not be as well received in a lifestyle/travel/food context. In other words, lifestyle/food/travel photography tends to show the glossy side of life. The intention is to sell people by enticing them with the most beautiful, sanitized and idealistic version of what the world could be. So, food/animal-product stained shirts, dirty walls and grit doesn’t always fit the bill. Of course, in a documentary context, this is all part of relating the “reality” of the conditions. So, I would simply keep this in mind as you consider the market you are seeking for your work. 

When it comes to a documentary submission for a contest like this, I would also think about the statement you are providing. And right now, your statement talks a lot about your process and what you experience upon meeting the people you photograph. And when you lecture about your photography, this will be interesting information for the audience to consider. But in the context of a project statement for a contest like this, I would think about contextualizing your photographs for the audience. And in this case, that might include talking about the types of people that you photographed. For example, it seems that you have focused exclusively on boys and men. And it also seems like you are focusing on people of a certain economic status–lower income/blue collar. Again, I would find a way to talk about these choices. Perhaps it has to do with how blue collar workers are the fabric of these cultures you are visiting. Or maybe you feel that they have an unheard voice. Whatever it is, I recommend writing about it. 

When selecting images for a series like this, there are no “rules” about how to do it. One thing I recommend, however, is thinking about how each photograph expands and diversifies the viewer’s understanding of the story/idea you are exploring. And right now, I noticed there are two butchers in the series. I would only include one in a small selection of only ten images.

Otherwise, Robin, I again admire the beautiful connections you are making with people in distant lands. And I hope you will have continued opportunities to travel the world and continue these types of inquiries.

Thank you for sharing your work and wishing you the best of luck. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: