Last week Lee and I did our first ever Critique the Community where we looked at 20 images from the Fstoppers Community and gave our honest review of them. It was such a success that we have decided to do it again. This week we review 21 new images, rate them on a scale of 1-5, and give advice about how they could be stronger portfolio photographs.
This week one of our office assistants picked 21 images from the previous post for us to review. The genres span photography in all sort of genres including food, wedding, portraits, landscapes, conceptual, advertising, and swimwear. I hope all of our advice and initial opinions on these images can give you a good understanding not only on how we believe images should be ranked within the Fstoppers Community but also on how you can strengthen your own portfolio.
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
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:
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.
If you want to have your work critiqued in future episodes, please leave a link to your image on this post here.
If you want more examples of how our rating system works, head over to Lee's post How Would You Rate Your Photography?