Hello everyone,

I recently began offering photo critiques for free as well as a paid option. I feel this is a wonderful way to learn photography, not only for your own images, but to see what other's are doing and how to improve upon it. 

The way I evaluate an image, whether it is mine or someone else's, I ask three basic questions. What is my subject? How do I focus attention on my subject? How do I simplify the image? This is what the New York Institute of Photography taught me to do and it's a system I live by. So, this is how I will comment on images I receive.

Unfortunately, over the last several weeks, I have only received ONE free critique image. So this is the image I will be discussing today.

Even if you don't feel like taking advantage of this opportunity, take the time when viewing other people's work to think about what it is about an image that you like. Don't just say "wow...that's nice" and move on down the Facebook news feed. What is it that makes it "nice"? Is it the composition, the use of color, an interesting technique, the subject matter? Is it thought provoking? Does it tell a story or bring back a memory? Think about what the artist put into that image, what possibly made them stop and take a photo in the first place. These are important details and will help you in your journey toward being a better photographer. I do it all the time. I'm constantly asking myself what it is about another artists' photo that truly made me stop and say "wow!"

I apologize for the black streak at the bottom left of the image. The artist put a watermark on it but this is an anonymous critique so I had to remove it. While I have studied all types of photography, I'd like to say that I do not consider myself an authority on portraits as it is not something I do every day. So please take the following with a grain of salt. I'd ask for mostly nature photographs in the future. 

Here's what I like about this image. I like that you went "outside the box" and got into a unique position low to the ground for an unusual perspective. The angle of the horizon adds to this aspect of the image. The framing is nice. You got in close which is important with a lot of portrait images. The expressions on the subjects are wonderful. They look very natural and relaxed. There's no question as to what the subject is in this image.

The lighting is complimentary in that the subjects are backlit. Backlighting can be difficult to work with but can add drama and dimension to an image. I'd assume you used flash to fill in the shadows here. I did not receive any image data so that's just a guess based on what I'm seeing.

Here's what I think could be improved. The background in this photo is quite distracting. My eye is drawn immediately to the bright white sky. I like the low angle, but the sky really takes away from the subjects. Perhaps repositioning them so that the background is made up of the trees. Another thing that can be done here is to change the aperture for less depth of field. The background is only slightly blurred and is competing for attention. This is the "simplify" portion of the typical image analysis I do on my own images. Another suggestion might be to use a longer focal length lens. Using a longer lens will decrease the depth of field at any given aperture so it would enable you to blur the background a bit better in this situation. My choice of depth of field has a huge impact on every image. 

I think also, the subjects should be brighter than the background in this particular instance. A little dodging and burning would help greatly with that. I also see a vignette in the upper right corner that is not as visible in the other corners of the image. I have to assume this is a lens hood getting in the way. Easy crop or cloning to fix that. 

All in all, a nice image and I'm sure the clients were happy with it. It's cute and fun and that's what most couple's portraits can benefit from. Well done!