Critique the Community


Show Us Your Best Photos That 'Tell a Story'
  • Submission Deadline: Sat, 26 Sep 20 17:30:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

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Some pictures are "worth a thousand words" but most photos pretty shallow. We want to see your images that truly do tell a story. 

A standard portrait isn't going to cut it for this critique. What is the subject doing? What are they wearing? What's happening in the background? We want to feel some sort of emotion within seconds of seeing your image.

Each photographer is allowed to submit up to three images. We will be choosing our favorite images for the critique and giving away two tutorials from the Fstoppers Store to the images that we loved the most. For this critique, the highest-rated image will not win a free tutorial so there is no point in trying to down-vote your competition. 

Make sure you add details about the concept, and how you photographed your submissions in the description box. Images without a description will be disqualified. 

Featured image by Chase Wilson

  • Submission Deadline: Sat, 26 Sep 20 17:30:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 254 people have cast a total of 9,838 votes on 325 submissions from 179 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results


"What's happening in the background?" Something which you will never know on 99% of portrait shots you see online.

Every picture tells a story don't it?

Nah not if it’s just a picture of some flowers or something

Wilting flowers in the right context can denote death.

Before your time.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"
- George Orwell, Animal Farm

I agree, but its like if a frame have more of the interacting elements, then their will be more relativity and context.
Context is must to tell a story, and elements makes context.

Something seems off in the first sentence ..... like the writer forgot to include the word "are" where it was needed.

Proper grammar is really, really important. Write-ups should be reviewed and/or proofread before they are posted.

this is silly! after receiving good votes comes the bad with a couple voting my opinion non of the submissions deserve 1 and im sure you understand the voting system so be honest with yourself

People here are rough. This is the last time I'm submitting anything.

The user rating has absolutely zero impact on whether you make the critique video or not. Just don't look at the rating.

I’ve just checked what I’d voted on your photo - I gave it a 2 and here’s why: I think it’s a really good photo, lighting is great, detail, contrast and I think I can just see a little “dirt” on the guys finger. Overall a lot I really like about it, and nothing I’d change as a photo, but does it tell a story for me? No. It’s too telephoto/not got enough context. If it was a bit wider or from a different angle where I could maybe see the workers face, see sweat/concentration/an eager customer waiting behind, something else there that would have allowed me to create a story from it. With it being just the subject and not anything else, there’s no story to be taken/created (just for me at least), and I always vote in regards to the theme with these contests.

I tend to agree with you on the 1 vote, I don’t like how it’s often described as “could have been taken on an iPhone” as I think an outstanding composition with superb natural lighting could help generate a world class photo from an iPhone. Bokeh, artificial lighting and photoshopping images aren’t always necessary, and particularly the photoshopping (again, just for me) is very often overused and makes images too “fake” looking for my taste.

Simon, kudos on your response. And, while I realize your comment on attitude towards iPhoneography doesn’t seem to be one that you personally share..... I’d direct people to Tim Clinch who’s a lifelong professional photographer (starting decades before digital) who is / has been a regular contributing author for several top photography magazines and is an award top food photography award winner year in, and year out. While he uses a wide variety of gear, he shoots a lot with his iPhone including recently using it for all illustrations for a client’s cookbook.

The iPhone attitude reminds me of when I ran a bicycle manuf. company and the guy (who was 25 lbs. overweight) who spent an extra $2,500 on titanium bits and pieces to shave a few ounce off of the weight of his bike. I think the corollary should be obvious.

Will check him out when I get a spare minute! Lighting is an aspect of photography I need to improve on myself, but I’m a big fan of interesting compositions and I think when limiting your gear, composition becomes something photographers have to be a bit more careful/thoughtful with, so I’m sure he’ll have a lot of interesting shots in that regard!

well there you go, a good critique finally! Thanks for the time it took you Simon to write your opinion, hope its not the thoughts were on the occasions you get voted "one" you gave me 2 and said that much, i would really love to read from the "Snapshot voters"..wonder what will be said then haha
Thanks for your thoughts on the shot, and i see your point on the wider image, very valid and important to tell stories, u know i find myself going for tight shots more often when i look back at the shots ive taken, maybe i need to go wide too
when i look at this photo, im just admiring the beauty of the ring as my subject and how its been carefully made by honest people who deal with expensive gems yet hold true to their profession..

No problem at all! I get a little disheartened at times in this as I enter photos that I’m relatively proud of, but I think what I’ve come to realise is there are so many opinions and so much variety in photography that inevitably there will be a large group of people who don’t see what the photographer sees and therefore vote lower than what the photographer would have hoped for. As I said, I thought your photo was a superb photo, it just didn’t quite fit the theme well enough for me to give it a 3 or higher.

I’m always curious as to why people vote a 1 on a photo that has clearly had effort put in and been taken on something that requires some technical knowledge - I wouldn’t be surprised if half the time it’s jealousy, the other half is from people who don’t share a passion/understanding for that particular genre and therefore don’t understand the difficulty/challenge involved. If the photo has clearly had work involved in achieving it, then to me at least, that can’t be rated as a snap shot - something that’s taken with no care or thought.

People vote 1 when they feel the image is off topic.

I have been participating for a while, i know thats not the case.

I'm a bit surprised too. I know my submissions need work, but they do go beyond a basic snapshot..... so it sort of makes me question if fstoppers community judgement.

good thing Lee just mentioned the votes don't impact the online critique..

Don't worry so much about the votes. And if you want feedback, go to the groups. There you will get feedback and the enjoyment of conversation. These contests are much more enjoyable if you just kick back and see what is put up as examples of a theme. The 1 star votes are what they are. They don't change the value of your work.

PS - My submission is of a dinosaur. If it is a snapshot, i would deserve a 10 star 'snapping' it! 🤪

hahaha sure ill find it ;)

This contest was literally made for me.
Thanks, Mike Kelley... let's see what you got :)

It start`s with a few who down votes and gives one star to clearly not one star photo`s. This will eventually produce others who does the same to others. Human nature.. How many, I don`t know, but I think f-stoppers really should pay attention to this. If not, the whole competition game will probably be more and more sour and not too pleasant to be part of. Even if the best pictures eventually get`s the highest scores, not many serious photographers like to get their work downgraded to junk snapshots. And I think there maybe will be fewer of the best participants eventually. I hope I am wrong. There may be something irritating in the word "needs work" when technically there`s not too much more to do. Just a boring picture maybe.. Can the solution in the competition just be to give one vote, a "like" ? Like Facebook. The one with the most votes wins? That starts between two fixed dates after submissions are closed. Or maybe change needs work to "almost ready" ? (for your portfolio) And do something with the one star terror :) I know when I am tempted to be harsh to other pictures when I get one star votes on a picture I spent hours on, then some others probably will effectuate exactly that. Well, this may be nonsense, I really like f-stoppers and the competitions and will participate anyways :)

i think the voting system is good, but some people really do 1vote to just down grade you ..
apart from that i don't care about voting system at last i know i love photography and no one can judge me ...its just people change their mind set and trends change. you have the power to chose good for you, "cause your choice makes you".
I'm here to discuss with this great team, I know you all are good photographers and we must comment on each others photos and I'm sure we will grow more like this, but only some do comments and that's bad.

I will be making a discord community for photography where we can discuss each others work.
The link will be on my Profile, hope most of you will make best out of it.

Just wanna say something about the ratings in general. When i first enter this site i had a decent portfolio with an overall of 4+. After mentioning the 1 star rating, especially because voting 1-3 stars can do anonymous, in a topic, i was overloaded with 1 stars in my portfolio. Over and over again. We spent a lot of hours taking some pictures and even more hours editing them. It would be fair that every vote you get is with the users account and there has to be a comment included. So that way you can debate the criticism. That way we/Fstoppers can remove those fake accounts. I really think Fstoppers should pay attention to it. By saying that we don’t must pay attention and not take it seriously is the last thing sponsoring wanna hear. It’s like you make a good article and the only thing you get posted is spam. That is what they are...spam. Please remove spam. I probably get those toddlers in my account but because I don’t take Fstoppers seriously I don’t care anymore. And that is exactly why we should do something about it.

I looked at your portfolio and a few of your images I would rate 1 star. I don't think people are "out to get you" I think that when you start becoming active, more people click on your portfolio and vote. It's easy to have a 4 star average rating when you only have a couple votes but almost impossible once you get over 100 votes.

Well Lee, you really should check your pretty eyes. FYI, you should look up what you as mr. Fstopper say about a 1 star.

* 1 Star ratings are limited to snapshots only. Snapshots 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 postproduction 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 smartphones. 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.

I don't wanna say it's a 4 star, but according to your own words it cannot be a 1 star. So what are you trying to say? Then again, I was very active with my former account, but some toddlers keep rating 1 star continues. I even mailed you to react and take actions. You didn't.
You could easily see who is voting to bring the average rating to as close as 1 star. The only thing you could do was removing the one picture I had in my portfolio with a text attached that said the voters should be ashamed. That was something you did, maybe because you don't want to be criticized. And don't get me wrong, I do not need a higher rate as it is, but don't try to be the smart guy, when this complain is a returning comment. Do something about it. When someone is rating a 4 or a 5 star I get a notification. So it would not be hard to do the same with 1 or 2 star rating.

* by removing a picture in my personal account I think F Stoppers crossed a line. It is called my account and not your account.

I don't know what you're talking about when it comes to leaving you messages or removing your pictures.

I would rate these images as 1 star or snap shots and I would imaging the majority of people in this group would also:

You can disagree with me, that's fine, but I'm just trying to explain that you don't have to worry about people unfairly going after you by rating your images lowly on purpose.

Lee, you can read a comment and you can read and understand a comment. You just read it but don’t understand. Try to read my comment and answer the questions. The most important parts you don’t answer. You rate pictures as a snapshot. Those are taken with a reason. Taken in Raw and been edited in Capture. I framed them en cropped them. So in your rating system it should be a 2 star. By saying it are snapshots you are on the same level as those toddlers that don’t belong here. You mentioned in your first post a few you rated 1 star and you put two of them inhere. The second photo was uploaded after your comment..... You could not saw it before the comment/reply.
Then you make the mistake to speak in behalf of others, by saying they think the same. It is up to them to decide if they really think it’s a 1 Star by FSTOPPERS rating system. Don’t decide for them......
I was very active with my last account and i like this site. So i even made some suggestions to make it more transparent.
It’s midnight here so i will stop now. And tomorrow I will read some comments that made more sense

Lol the comment section of these contests are always great for a laugh. But also how dare you bring Lee's pretty eyes into this?

Lee, I think what may be missing and the genesis for much of the repeated discussion on ratings, value, quality, etc. of a given image is more clarity as to the type of photography / photographer Fstoppers is built to serve. I think that Fstoppers is a great site that's built around and serves professional commercial & landscape fine art photography / photographers. And that's a perfectly legitimate mission to have.

In my view the place where some members are confused, others vote their disdain and even you & Patrick struggle is when images cross into the realms of non-landscape fine art (e.g. abstract, impressionistic, surrealistic, etc.) and journalistic / documentary photography.

For example, the use of "external lighting" (often a foundational element of commercial work) is described in the voting criteria as a clear way an image is almost always elevated from a "1" to a "2." That often is true and, calling it out creates an implied bias towards professional, commercial photographs. A criteria in the "3"star rating explanation calls out "part time professionals" (forget amateurs) as having mostly 3-star images in their portfolios. I don't dispute that may be true and, calling it out again creates an explicit bias that gets applied. In critiques you yourself struggle with great images where you can't see how they'd be monetized. In my observation those tend towards non-commercial work that falls into the fine art and journalistic / documentary categories. I think that there's a whole host of Magnum photographers who do ok monetizing images that on Fstoppers would consistently earn ratings of "1" and never see the light of day in a critique.

As this is not intended to be a "takedown" of Fstoppers I'll wrap up with a couple of possible solutions. 1). Narrow the mission of Fstoppers e.g. your "About" statement to more clearly reflect the range of people who fit the sites' model. 2). Scrap contests as they're divisive and are subject to the varied whims & biases of people. I'd bet that if you're measuring it, member churn (turnover) is probably over 50% annually and if you did a Pareto analysis you find that discontent over contests is probably the #1 driver.
Perhaps portfolio reviews, curated by the photographer and submitted for that purpose would provide a popular replacement to contest critiques. And, portfolio reviews could possible produce an additional revenue stream.


Thank you Samantha for this comment. I looked at your portfolio and I must admit, I am really impressed. I will consider your opinion and try to shoot with my lens cap like your amazing style.
Maybe you should contact F Stoppers, I can't vote on your picture with the birds

After reading all this, I was very interested to see your portfolio. Some of your images are solid (and I rated accordingly). But, some images as pointed out by Lee, are definitely not worthy of taking a prized spot on your portfolio. For instance, the guy with the mutton chops is not in focus.

This is not a attack on your work, but more a question as to why you thought that specific image needs to be included in your body of work. I would recommend you put some effort into the description of those photos to justify their addition.

Thank you Ewan for your comment. Of course that guy isn't for my portfolio. It was put there after Lee had visited my account. This time I knew he was in. I put it there with a title as a joke. But to come back at my point; I get a lot af 1 star ratings after mention it in general inhere. That is what surprised me. When getting a 4-5 star rating, I get a notification. What I can understand. But when someone rate it a 1 star (snapshot) you can do it anonymous. Even when it is not a snapshot according to the rating system put here by Fstoppers. If Lee says that some of my pictures are snapshots then he don't understand his own definition of a snapshot. It's when I go to your account and rate everything a 1 star. Would you think that would be fair for the work you put in it? So 1 star is fine by me, but only with the account name and a comment. So we can exactly see who is a trol inhere and their only intention is to dislikes other ppl work. Like I said before, I had a decent portfolio before, and on every picture I added like 10 ppl give it a 1 star within a day. I would suggest that we get that open and transparent rating system. And I know by putting this comment know I will get 1 ratings for this. But tnx again for taking your time to comment.

You know what? The solution is really simple: Just get rid of the rating.
If someone really wants to give their opinion on a picture, the absence of rating will encourage them to leave a comment, which is more meaningful and useful as a critique than an anonymous vote.

I totally agree. I have mostly stopped looking at photos here on Fstoppers, solely because of the screwed up ratings. If the ratings were gone, I would start looking at the photos here again.

That makes no sense. How are the ratings keeping you from looking at photos here. Until you rate, the ratings are not visible. If the ratings annoy so much, don't rate, just look.

Has there been an 'icons' critique yet? It would be nice to see some of the most photographed places in the world, but from an entirely original perspective, or angle.

Very good idea

How about "Masks". Everyone has been talking about them for the 8 months.

A black and white, abstract, minimalism and still life would all also be fun topics.

Perhaps in the future contests like this could be more specific/specialized. For instance pictures that create a narrative vs pictures that document real life stories.

Judging from some of the ratings in this contest, images that are more fictional and fantastical and required a lot of costuming, set design, and post processing/compositing seem to be rated higher then documentary/photojournalist/street photos that might have been captured quickly but have no less intent behind them and are just as capable of conveying an impactful story.

I am almost certainly biased though as my first thought upon reading the prompt was to focus on documented stories, so i would love to hear y'all's opinions.

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Contest Submissions

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