Contest Entry: Benjamin Schmanke shoots a family Portrait

Benjamin takes us through a unique family portrait shoot. He shows his steps in creating a final image for the client, from selecting the location to post photoshop work. Benjamin does a great job with the shoot and providing details from the shoot. Check out his hard work on photoshop and the final image.

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I appreciate the effort that went into making this video. Its certainly better than my entry into the contest.

That being said, its almost crippling how disappointed I am in the final image after seeing that it took around 3 and a half MONTHS of planning/shooting/editing. I'm sure there must have been some constricting requests from the client.

My suggestion would be to not over think a shoot/image.

Good luck in the future.

Zac, I appreciate the crit. I see where you are coming from, but I'd like to add two thoughts.
First, the last edit I show as the 'final' in the video, is not actually it. (It was a rushed edit to complete for the film.) The true final edit that looks much better can be found here: [ ]
Second, I believe failure is a must. If I'm not failing, I'm not pushing myself. I wouldn't say the 3.5 months is a complete failure, and I would have never 'risked it' this high for a true paying client (this "client" was family), but we all learned immensely from those 3.5 months, and we'd both agree it was worth every mile. (And maybe, just maybe head out in the Autumn to have another go! :)

Sorry to say that the result looks ... well ... fairly crappy. 3 months? Seriously? This video and especially the resulting image do in no way stand up to the high quality of FS videos and pictures.

I tend to agree with Zac. You have great enthusiasm, but the composition is very spread out and doesn't have the depth I expected. I would like to see overlapping elements. You could use string as a means to create spaces on the grass for the action. Take you background photo first, then lay down the string and start shooting.

I have to agree with Zac 1000% I watched this video expecting a far higher quality final image. Even the true final edit you linked just completely forgets shadows in important places, and several of the layers look like they are just "floating" above the background.

You've got great enthusiasm, and the video is good, but the final product is very amateur. I felt bad that this was for a client and not just an experiment for yourself considering some of the flaws.

Keep it up, you've got the perfect attitude.

To be honest I must praise Ben for thinking outside the box in regards to family portraits. I'm liking your originality here pal.

Hi, I was dissapointed in the final result, it wasnt a portrait.


Great video I thought the editing was well done and kept a good pace. For where you are with your photography I think you did something that was pretty amazing. I think a lot of the things that people have pointed out as failures are only due to your own inexperience. Keep working at it. I'm sure the next time you embark upon something like this it will 100% better.

hopefully the client was happy

All, he mentions that this was actually a family member.

First, I have to give credit to Ben for a very imaginative portrait. I love his enthusiasm for his project. I can't really comment on the final product due to the obvious limitations of this video.

I don't want to be too critical but I would seriously worry about print quality with the Nikon D5000 and the consumer lens he used. (I'm not bashing Nikon. I shoot with a D3). Considering he shot totally without any fill light on any subject, into the sun, I would be a little concerned about a perceived flatness of the image and a "portrait" like that should be printed at least 24"x36" to see any detail in any of the faces.

Another concern; what were you paid to compensate you for 3 1/2 months of planning? Seriously, I like to pre-plan but that is a little extreme. For all that work, I'm thinking $2K for a 2'x3' canvas.

All that being said, if the client was happy, you did your job! I do think Ben has a great career ahead of him.

Seriously man, 3 months and a half of preparation and you didn't figure out the problem with the shadows??? I'm just curious what kind of preparation work were you doing beside going here and there to find the perfect spot?

I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking. Cool idea for a family shot. Unfortunately I have to agree with the other comments that the final image did not deliver. I think you should have thought thru the poses and concept a little further and yeah the shadow issue, how did you overlook that.

Great concept and a lot of hard work. Execution is off.

I can't believe this took 3.5 months? It looks like something that could be done in an evening, post-work done that night. Good enthusiasm and concept, but the final image looks... photoshopped and goofy.

The final picture looks very flat with incorrect shadows. Nice park though ;)
I guess these 3,5 months are not 8 hours a day.

I'm sorry but i don't like it :(
Video is great but the result? awfull

Yeah, uh, the final image is kind of horrible. I watched the video before reading the comments, and I was expecting something really cool after all the talk of preparation and the various shots...etc You even reminded me of Chase Jarvis a little in the way you were presenting everything. But yeah, like I said, final result was pretty bad. Sorry.

I'm not one for usually commenting on these, but I have found this section/video to be rather comical in terms of everyone's comments! Where is the love? I took the time and checked out everyone's link to their own site's who commented and I could say that all of you guys could use a little critique yourself. Which is what you should be doing with Benjamin here. Instead of bashing the kid and how terrible everything is give him a little more constructive criticism. " If you only do what know and do it very, very well, chances are that you wont fail. You'll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting... and that's failure by erosion." He tried something new and tried to share it with everyone. Let him have his moment and help him out. Give him a little more positive feedback. Nobody needs your quirky smart a** negative comments. We could all use a little more help with what we are trying to do as creative professionals, artists, ad photographers. "Failure is a badge of accomplishment because it mens that you took a risk, that you tried something new."

Larry Sanders's picture

Amen Sully! Just think of the people who dont put their work on a forum like this for the very same comments that are posted above.

Actually after reading Sullys post I feel really bad now. Benjamin fair play to you as somebody suggested you going guns on the creative side. I would execute it differently though. Backlight like this in my experience needs fill from the front and Id also try it with a tighter angle so as to take detail out on the faces. I continue to learn from the many mistakes I make , sometimes things I visioned in my mind look gross to me when I see them but I learn so much from those episodes. There are also lessons for me in your video and I wish you well in the future.

Lee Morris's picture

I am going to stay out of this... Can we all just agree that Jerrit is an idiot?

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Guys I feel a lot of negative comments. This should fix it

Patrick Hall's picture

Let me clarify, the reason Lee said Jerrit is an idiot is because we told him to post something else and then posted this video.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Meh, I was told to post something. I made it happen.

Multiplicity is not really a new concept. Photoshop contests have used this idea for ages, and have far better results.