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"Smile" competition winner

 10th Mar 2016

Photo critique by Melissa Fox

Congratulations to Brian Graney for winning our Smile Facebook Photo Competition this month.

Upon first thought, a smile seems pretty simple. It is easy to shoot friendly “hi and hello” and rooms of laughter. Some smiles were subtle and showed a deeply complex happiness.

I think this theme truly brought the expression “smiling is universal” to life. As the images travel across many countries and ages, we travel through lives and moments that everyone can understand and cherish.

As the winner, Brian gets an in depth 10 point photo critique and his image becomes our Facebook page banner fo the month.

smile competition winner

1: Overall Impression:  
When I first saw this image I felt an honest moment, I was recently reminded of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words. A photo story is “a joint operation of the brain, the eye, and the heart.” With your images. The brain is the camera technique, the eye is the angle and composition, the heart is the emotion and this image shows all three. I felt the close, intimate moment between the subject and the photographer as they’re both having fun. It's proof that we are what we shoot.
It’s contagious – I didn’t feel this is a 'polite pose studio' smile, I felt the laughter and the fleeting moment that make the sides of my mouth curl upwards ever so slightly.

2: Artistic Points:
I love your creativity on making us feel the closeness to your subject by using a wide angle lens (22mm) I can taste the colours, there’s a film-ish feel on this image that adds authenticity just like in the film days. I like your connection with your subject and they didn’t even feel shy to give you a smile

3 Technical Aspects:
Spotless image!  It’s not over processed and the film-ish style look made it look like image from national geographic magazine.

4 Lighting:
The Lighting definitely works on this picture, over cast and clouds have blocked the sun and served as a huge soft box and created a nice ambient light that gave a beautiful light on their face.

5 Composition:
Composition that really works, being close to your subject and capturing the right moment while checking your composition can be challenging!  The subject didn’t entirely fill the frame that gave us a window to see the scene in the background that added more story, horizon correctly aligned – great capture!  

6: Use of focal length / lens choice:
Great job on using 22mm lens that gave this image an intimate, authentic and raw look not to mention it’s really tricky using this kind of focal length. It’s do or die especially on portraits because either your subject will shy away or they will connect with you. Brilliant job on showing your warm side to make them stay and interact with you.

7: Sharpness / depth of field:
With the use of F8 the background is slightly blurry and that separates the subject, I can see how close you were to your subject, I think the sharpness is descent and acceptable though it could be improved. However I know where you are coming from and this is about capturing the fleeting moment.

8: Exposure
No question on the exposure – I love it! Not over or under exposed for this type of shot.

9 The good points and why they work:
Your humanity – If you didn’t have the warm and welcoming personality this image will not exist, you will not able to connect and interact and get this emotion from these lovely kids.
Your lens - you love to be close to your subject, by these I didn’t mean the use of macro lens but your wide story telling lens that gave me closeness to your subject and feel them.
Your brain – for thinking through your camera technique to capture the image
Your eye – for the angle and composition
You heart – for the emotion

10: Areas for improvement:
More scene/composition - The smile does not need to take up the entire frame. This will give more story to the image on where they are and will show what they’re doing or seeing that is making them laugh or smile.

Suggested tutorials to help you:

Scene in a scene


photo critiques