Self-Critique: Portrait of Tim Stanley

Tim Stanley

What’s a better way to start off the new year than with some harsh self-critique? Okay, maybe not too harsh. Honest, though.

The photo of Tim Stanley (seen above) was taken just about a year ago. I was a rookie at lighting a portrait. In fact, I was a rookie at photographing a portrait. Keep in mind I don’t consider myself to be an expert after a year of experience under my belt, but I have learned quite a bit since then, in addition to viewing literally hundreds of portraits taken by various masters.

I actually kind of like this photo, for a number of reasons. The expression is not bad. Could there be a little more going on with the eyes? Yes, but there is a bit of a spark there. It is bordering on blank, so that’s something I would have tried to work on a bit more. Drawing some expression and emotion out of a subject can be hard and takes a lot of practice.

The light is pretty nice too. It’s not adventurous, but it is flattering. The fill coming off of the red brick wall is probably not helping too much color-wise, but it does help lift the shadows to a nice level. I would take some red out of it in post if I were to reprocess this. Regarding more adventurous lighting, I did try some during the same photoshoot.

Negatives: I’m a bit over the whole out-of-focus wall leading the eye to the subject. It does add a bit of three-dimensionality to the photograph, but it’s a bit cliche. I’m not sure what I would have done differently in that small space we were working with. Finding another location would probably have been the best solution.

I also feel like I cut the framing a bit close down at the bottom near his hands. A little more space down there would have helped things. In addition I would have liked to have feathered the light higher as to create some more light falloff at the bottom of the frame. I also now have an umbrella with a black covering that I can use to flag off certain areas in order to help with that issue.

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