Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aaron Draper Critique

Posted by David
Approved by Melody

Wow, we actually have a second installment of our image critique! When I started it I was thinking that I’d probably have to critique a lot of our shots since, after all, who really cares about my opinion. (You can tell I’m an artist; I have unending faith in myself).

Even more astonishing is who critique #2 is for: Aaron Draper. Aaron’s list of accomplishments, aside from being suckered into mentoring me, is long and impressive and his work inspiring. I don’t want to give him a big head, so I’ll stop there. You can check out his work here, here, and here (yes, he asked me to link to all of those).

Full Disclosure: The amazingly placed light in this photograph is being held by none other than yours truly. I got the distinct pleasure of assisting Aaron on this beautiful wedding up in the Pleasanton hills.

Ruby Hill Wedding

Aaron has been waiting oh so (im)patiently for this critique, so let’s jump right into it. What I love about the shot is Aaron’s flair for the dramatic. The placement and relationship of the camera, subject, and sun, are pivotal to this shot working. Light, lines and even the clouds all seem to flow into the main subject of the composition. I also love how the groom is pulling the bride in tight and how genuine his expression is. Let’s not forget about how well depth is working in this shot. We have foreground with the grass, middle ground with the couple and the background with the hills off in the distance. It also works at a slight diagonal that moves across the composition.

As I’m reminded every time Aaron takes a look at one of my photos, there is always room for improvement. My first concern has to do with composition/posing. Framed out just a little wider or panned to the right would have brought all of the bride’s dress into the composition. Clipping it off on one side yet leaving breathing room on the left leaves the piece feeling disjointed. Given the circumstances after the fact, I’d opt to crop this as an 8x10 and pull the left edge of the frame in tighter to the groom. This would have the effect of leading the viewer to believe that there was no other option than to clip the dress.

My second concern has to do with the bride’s pose. While I’m not a stickler for digits and appendages being visible at all times, I do think that draping the left hand across the length of the leg would have been a nice touch, especially since it would put her ring finger on display just like the groom’s. I’d also like to see her a little more at ease. Right now she appears serene, and maybe even a little stiff, as if holding a pose. It does not fit with the air of passion around the groom. In my mind’s eye, I see her head tilted towards the light a little more, pulling the corner of her eye away from his nose and illuminating the tangency, chin tilted up slightly so that her head leans back towards the groom allowing a little light to drop in under her right cheek, her right arm less rigid allowing her to recline into the groom, and lips parted slightly, caught in a momentary sigh.

The thing to remember is that this is a wedding shot. What I’ve outlined is difficult to get out of trained models, let alone a bride and groom that you just met for the first time three hours ago, and with a wedding planner tapping the face of her watch. You’re also trying to get as many different “looks” as possible in your allotted time, which means that you don’t really have time to over analyze things. You capture the frame, go with your gut reaction as to whether or not you “got it” and then move on to the next scene. Taking all of that into account, the photograph is beautiful.

In closing I’ll just say that hindsight is always 20/20. I’m pretty sure that Aaron has already figured all of this out on his own and that he’s simply testing me. But he provides an example to us all, that no matter how great we become at something, it’s always beneficial to open ourselves up to improvement. That being said, I need to get a portfolio put together so that I can ask both Aaron and Zack Arias to rip it to shreds.


  1. Testing. "This is an amazing photograph. David doesn't know what he's talking about." Testing

  2. Ditto to the first comment. :) Totally kidding. Actually, I agree with the critique. This is why I say that photography is a journey that will never be finished. We can always learn and improve. :) Thanks for taking the time to critique it David.

  3. You can just link my website if you'd like... I think all 3 is a little overkill. :)

  4. That's what I thought. I just did as I was told. ;)