Critique the Community Episode 22: Family Photography With Lee and Patrick

You're going to want to watch this episode of Critique the Community. We asked photographers to submit some of their best family photos to be critiqued by Lee and Patrick and had some great entries. We also decided to throw in a couple surprises. 

Beginning now, we will be giving away one free Fstoppers tutorial to a random entrant of the episode. This weeks prize falls to Tim Schwan, who submitted picture number 9 below. Congratulations, we'll be in touch with you with a direct message to your Fstoppers account. If you'd like to be involved in future Critiques, be sure to keep an eye out for our posts calling for photo submissions and follow the rules to be eligible. Until then, check out this weeks images and let us know if you agree with Lee and Patrick's feedback. 





















If you missed your chance to submit your images for critique, keep an eye out for future submission opportunities for "Critique the 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 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.

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 postproduction but for some reason has missed the mark. A 2 star image 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 postproduction. 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 postproduction. 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. A 4 star image usually requires 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 postproduction. 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 postproduction 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, we 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, we would 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?

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Stas F's picture

Patrick sounds sick )

Patrick Hall's picture

Yep, just got over a head cold from that damn snow shoot! 30 for 30 is literally killing me

Lee about the horizon in picture 13: "It's not the end of the world..."
By the way, that was my favorite picture in the bunch!

Thanks so much for the prize, that was completely unexpected!

Lee Morris's picture

Def my favorite shot too. Congrats on winning the tutorial!

Nic Hilton's picture

Oooo close to a 4 on my photo with the bubbles! Thanks for the critique guys! Great video

Pedro Pulido's picture

awesome critique. laughed my A## off and some of the images where quite nice! Hope Fstoppers turns this into a weekly video.
Also, noticed that your leaning more and more into creating more interaction with your audience, which i honestly think its great work. Bringing you closer to your followers is always a winner. well done!

Lee Morris's picture

Glad you’re enjoying it! If we get more comments like this we will certainly be more inspired to do it every week.

Stas F's picture

When you guys argued about the green tint, I was lmao. Lee's reaction was same when (from BTS) Elia woke you guys up at night in Australia and said that there was "one of those wingless birds". Lee was like "wtf you talking about" )))

Patrick Hall's picture

In both cases Lee was wrong too :)

Lee Morris's picture

Um, the bird had wings and that shot has fine lighting.

Patrick Hall's picture

So they do have tiny tiny wings but for the most part they are wingless...

Patrick Hall's picture

Who said anything about Kia birds? You've lost this argument haha

Taranjeet Singh's picture

I agree with you Patrick. The green tints there. I spent last evening going through the images and it definitely shows the green tint, specially on the neck area.

Adam Ottke's picture

This is hilarious. The best part is definitely the random, terrible cloning of the bench on the right. WHY? I guess that's the question for all parts of this image, though ;-)

Patrick Hall's picture

I didn't notice the cloned pine trees in the background until I watched this video full res.

Lachlunn Valente's picture

im not saying you should share a link to that last image or the Tog's profile, but if it suddenly were to appear in my inbox, no one would need know hahaha.

Gary Matson's picture

Ok Guys .... Love what you guys do - it helps many people. Thanks. I shot the Mission Impossible image ...8 years ago we won the contest .. .came home and mom insisted we "get a photo". I put one light on a stand to the right, as you said, only one light though and tried to get everyone to smile. This was in no way a real set up shot ..... just fun.
The idea was that we had been "caught" headlights into the back of the van .....

Lee Morris's picture

Won what contest?

Patrick Hall's picture

What is going on with the multiple shadows and the 3 catch lights in the glasses?

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I always love to watch your CTC episodes. I think I’m not gonna be the only one to say you guys should definitely do more of those. And as I mentioned before - do an episode on aerials.

Lee Morris's picture

Good idea, we'll do it with Mike Kelley

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Will be looking forward to that. Don’t keep us all waiting for too long.

Very appreciative you guys took the time to critique my image. That shot was maybe the 3rd or 4th click after getting everyone in place.

"Has the feel of a Vogue, Annie Leibovitz type posed shot" was my favorite comment of the critique.

Taranjeet Singh's picture

Thank You Patrick & Lee regarding your feedback. I really appreciate you guys devoting time for this and helping so many other novice people like me. Your critics made me look at my image in a different perspective all together. I agree with Patrick regarding the green tint on the mom’s pic. It’s surely there. The shot was a spontaneous one, taken on a family outing, in a park with lot of green cover. Will take care of those details next time. Thanks

Lee Morris's picture

There may be a slight green tint on the neck but it is not worth noting. The color looks good to me.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Guys, you are awesome! And I loved your reactions and argument on #10 ;D I hope I get someday on that tablet :D

Karl Coppack's picture

I've only just managed to catch this, thanks for the feedback guys - really appreciated!