Critique the Community: Submit Your Best Architecture Photographs Here

Critique the Community: Submit Your Best Architecture Photographs Here

In this next episode of Critique the Community, we'll be sitting down with Architectural Photographer, Mike Kelley. Mike is best known for his incredible light painting methods. In less than 5 years of owning a camera, he has gone from knowing very little about photography to shooting National Ad Campaigns for the Architecture industry. If you want Mike and us to consider your image for this episode, leave a link to your image within the community and we will give you our honest opinion.  

The internet can be a cruel and cut throat place for photographers. For some reason photographers are often extremely negative and cynical when looking at the work of their peers.  Most photographers overwhelmingly say that they would like others to "C&C" their work, yet the conversation can often times become less than inspiring and often down right depressing.  Our hope with this new segment called Critique the Community is that Lee and I can offer a fair yet encouraging commentary on some of the images found in the Fstoppers Community.


The Fstoppers Community Rating System

If you have an Fstoppers account, you are able to create your own profile and portfolio directly within the Fstoppers Community.  Once you have a portfolio uploaded, you can browse images in the community and rate the photos of your peers.  Even though art is usually a fairly subjective matter, we wanted to create a rating system that was as objective and unbiased as possible.  This way if one of your images has been rated 50 times and has received an average rating of 2 stars, you could feel confident that maybe that particular image is not up to par.  Below is a simple chart explaining the Fstoppers Community Rating System. 

1 Star - The Snapshot

1 Star ratings are limited to snap shots only. Snap shots are usually taken to document a time or location but little to no thought has gone into the creation of the image. If an image has been "lit" with external light (besides a direct on camera flash) it is at least a 2 star picture. The majority of 1 star images have had no post production work done to them but do often have an "instagram style" filter added to them. The average person these days snaps 1 star images every single day with their smart phones. Most 1 star images that pop up on sites like ours are images of flowers, pets, landscapes, sunsets, objects around a house, etc. If you read Fstoppers, you should not be sharing 1 star images for any reason. 

2 Stars - Needs Work:

All images, besides maybe 5 star images, always have room for improvement but 2 star images "need work" before they should be included in your portfolio. As photographers we are snapping thousands of images per year but only a few of those images should ever be shared or put into our portfolio. A photographer who has taken a 2 star image has put some thought into the composition, exposure, and post production but for some reason has missed the mark. 2 star images should not be in the portfolio of a full time professional photographer, and amateur photographers should strive for something better. Even complete amateurs who don't understand photography at all are capable of taking 2 star images from time to time. 

3 Stars - Solid:

A 3 star image is an all around good image. The photographer has a solid understanding of the basics; composition, color, focus, subject matter, and post production. A 3 star image is "good" but it's not great. Most part-time professional photographers have mostly 3 star images in their portfolios. Usually a level 3 image would have been rated 4 stars if it had been shot in a better location, or with a better model showing a better expressions, or there was better post production. A photographer capable of taking a 3 star image is capable of taking 4 and 5 star images if they would simply pay more attention to the details. 

4 Stars - Excellent:

4 star images are fantastic. In most cases, 4 star images have a certain style to them that links them directly to their creator. 4 star images usually require planning and attention to extreme detail. It's almost impossible to shoot a 4 star image by getting lucky. 4 star images have almost flawless conception, composition, lighting, subject matter, and post production. If you have any 4 star images in your portfolio you should be very proud of yourself.

5 Stars - World Class:

5 star images are flawless and unforgettable. The amount of time, energy, and talent that goes into the average 5 star image is staggering. In many cases these pictures require a team to produce including a professional retoucher. The concept, lighting, subject, location, and post production on these images has to be perfect. In some cases the jump from 4 to 5 stars may be as simple as changing the unknown model in the picture with a celebrity or bringing in a set designer or stylist to make the image slightly better. Although there are always exceptions, most 5 star images take days, if not weeks or months to produce.


Strengthening Your Own Portfolio

Even with our objective rating system, people are going to disagree with what they like because ultimately art is still a matter of opinion.  However, I believe once an image has been rated over 25 times it will have a rating that is pretty fair and honest (We hope to deter trolls by giving negative Karma points when a vote is more than 1 star away from the community average).  If one of your images in your own portfolio is rated lower than what you personally feel it should be rated, I'd urge you to try to look at the image from an unbiased angle.  Step back, erase your memory of the photoshoot itself, and try to imagine an art buyer, stock agency, potential client or local gallery as they decided if they wanted to invest in your services.  Would your image make the cut?

Lee and I are not the greatest photographers in the world.  There are many many genres of photography that we have not been successful in or in many cases have not even attempted in our careers.  However I believe we have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't in terms of commercial viability.  Not every image is meant to sell or book you work, and that is okay!  Snapshots and sentimental images are great and most definitely have a purpose.  Hopefully our insight and critiques can help you decide what is and isn't worth putting in your own public portfolio.  I hope these video critiques can help you see beyond the technical and personal elements that make up an image and begin looking at your own work in a new light.    

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Previous comments
Roger Batchelor Jr's picture

Would like to be added to the critique list please.

Chet Meyerson's picture

I would welcome a comment or two on this one. Thank you so much,

Thanks in advance for the critique Mike & Fstoppers.

Some light-painting for your CC. thx.

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Sam, you'll need to upload this to your portfolio and include the link to the image in order for us to be able to critique it.

Tony Thompson's picture

One of my personal favorite shots so far doing the architectural thang. Very interested in a critique.

Anonymous's picture

Here's a shot I did over the summer. I had the awesome opportunity to do a shoot for a model unit for a new resort in Barbados. This was the main image they were looking to get - highlight the unit interacting with the nature and the open space concept.

This image was created with the 'Mike Kelly Technique' composited lots of light painted images. There was a little camera movement I had to deal with in post because the camera was mounted on the back of a pickup truck and lots of wind on location.

I'd love a critique from you guys and let me know what you think. I've been doing photography professionally for about 3 years now (mostly real estate listing stuff).

Tony Thompson's picture

Great work in my book!

Josh Rottman's picture

This was the only one I shot in Europe that wasn't almost completely symmetrical so it's the one I'd love to hear your thoughts on. This is at the EU Court of Justice building in Luxembourg:

University of Maryland and a Conservatory

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Dan, you'll need to upload this to your portfolio and include the link to the image in order for us to be able to critique it.

Jun Dang's picture

Here's mine. Would love your thoughts

Edit: Link to portfolio:

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Jun, you'll need to upload this to your portfolio and include the link to the image in order for us to be able to critique it.

Alexander Ramsey's picture

Thank you for offering this critique! I would love to hear any feedback.

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Alexander, you'll need to upload this to your portfolio and include the link to the image in order for us to be able to critique it.

Jason Edinburg's picture

I would also love to have you critique some of my work. Uploaded several images here:

Thank you!

Craig Powell's picture

This image is typical of what I am delivering to my real estate agent clients. Most of my work includes at least one flashed layer and one ambient layer hand blended in PS. Thanks Mike.

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Craig, you'll need to upload this image to your portfolio before we can consider it! Please leave a link to the image within your Fstoppers Portfolio.

Ryan Carr's picture

Here's a shot from a recent shoot in the Hollywood hills:

kat alves's picture

Hello, I just uploaded some images. Please take a look and I would love to hear your comments and reviews. Thanks!

David Lawrence's picture

Please consider my image to be critiqued. Shot last month in Indiana, burrr.

Antti Nyman's picture

Here is my profile I just uploaded 3 photos for critique.

Moafaq Jamal's picture

When the critiques going to happen?

Grant Kennedy's picture

Here is mine for critique. thankyou

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Grant,
Please upload this to your portfolio and include a link to the image on this post.

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