First attempt at portraits | Criticism welcome

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by Mathom33, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    Last week I was in Syracuse visiting my wife's family. Her cousin, her husband, and their infant were nice enough to let me take a few pictures.

    Criticism (constructive and negative) is welcome.

    Shot with a GX1/14-42 PX lens/ most should have been at f3.5 at ISO 160.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2

    BAXTING Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Los Angeles SFV, CA
    Real Name:
    Gotta love those BW/Sepia shots. Looking good. Looks like you need a faster shutter speed for the dancing baby :biggrin:

    Thanks for sharing
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    my initial thoughts

    1) get lower

    2) get closer

    3) Get faces/eye contact

  4. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Real Name:
    The most important thing in a portrait is facial expression. Of those shots, only two have attractive facial expressions: the one with grandmother's hand and the last one. The last one would be much better if the viewer actually could see the faces of happy parents.

    On the very first photo, the mother's eyes are closed and the baby look like he (she?) is yawning.

    The pic with a sleepy baby looks like he (she?) is sick. Also, is the dog photobombing? :)

    The second picture is just not sharp.

    All color pictures could benefit from some color grading (the skintones look wrong).
  5. Neftun

    Neftun Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 15, 2012
    Real Name:
    Patrick Kristiansen
    I like the first one, the composition works, and sepia looks good in it. The rest are more like snapshots than portraits.

    A portrait is more than a shot of one or more faces. A portrait is supposed to show a character, a part of a person, not just how they look. Consider what you choose to keep in the image. Omitting things from the background with shallow DOF is the easy way to do this, and you can focus on expression and such. If you don't use shallow DOF, you need to be very conscious about background. I'm no pro in this, but there is good advice above as well:)
  6. Christilou

    Christilou Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 25, 2010
    Camberley, Surrey
    To me, they need to be much more tightly framed. Most lack a clear focal point. Number 4 seems to be the most on track :). I like the sepia tones too. You're using natural light and so I would try to get the best angle to make the most of it. I'm no expert either but these are the things that jump out to me. You could crop the last one quite severely, perhaps lift the shadows a little and it could look a lot better :)
  7. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I like Number 4 with the baby staring at the finger.
    Decent expression, good subject, sharp enough, skin colour is nice, doesn't have a blue thing in its ear.
  8. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    Thanks for the input! I was having a hard time getting any photos. It was late in the afternoon and their child (which is deaf and has a rare disease) was starting to cry. They were trying as hard as they could to keep him from crying so I was not able to take too many with all of their faces.

    One thing I did notice when processing the photos was that not all of them were as clear or as sharp as I wanted them to be. I'm not sure if this is due in part to the face detection being on or due to a slow shutter speed. Other photos I took were better when looking at facial expression, but for some reason there was something out if place or someone's arm sticking out awkwardly.

    And my dog was sort if photo bombing, but they loved it because it was his first dog he had come in contact with. I have more where my wife is holding my dog and my mother in law is holding the baby.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2
  9. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Real Name:
    Eric Cote
    One tip to add to what have been said. Be careful with your background, especially behind the heads. Sometime, just moving a few feet to the side will get you a smoother background with less distraction. For example, the mother and baby sitting on the grass, if you had move to your right a bit, you would have get rid of the metal fence behind the baby's head.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Mu-43 mobile app
  10. Mathom33

    Mathom33 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 4, 2013
    She really wanted a picture with the purple flowers that you see on the bottom left in that photo. I really didn't want to take that shot because of the fence and the distraction it seems to have. There are only a few with the fence and I cropped it out of all the photos I took.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2
  11. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Do it another time or the next morning? A happy baby is a photogenic baby! :smile:

    Poor aperture and performance/blurring of the 14-42X lens. Use a better lens. Harsh? Buy an original Lumix 14-45 if you want a cheap kit zoom. If you want pocketability use one of the rather good primes. 14,17,20mm. All good. :thumbup:

    Use burst mode, take hundreds of pictures : you'll get some real gems if the dog is flapping around. That is a really photogenic dog face there. If it wasn't obscured by a baby ... :biggrin: