Mentorship/Image Critique

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Antonio,

I haven't gone through any sort of formal critique since I was in college - it was useful for sure. I haven't since and given my meager goals for my current photography (to enjoy myself making it!), I don't have much desire to again. I'm comfortable with my current set of illusions! :cool:

In terms of your excellent shots above, I think it depends on what you're after. To me there's a difference between street portraits and more spontaneous street photography. Both can be done well, both can be done badly. A number of yours, mostly from the first group, strike me as very spontaneous street photography, where you're observing and recording a scene that would be happening with or without your presence. Some of them are still pretty intimate, some less so. The second group, done after the critique almost all strike me as street portraits. Not all of the subjects are looking at the camera - some are, some aren't, but there's an awareness of being photographed and more or less posing for it in almost all of them. I wouldn't presume that you should focus on either approach - I think they're both wonderful types of photography, and it almost goes without saying that your results are incredible using either approach. So, whatever you prefer to do you should do, whether it's one approach, the other, or a combination of both. If your goal is to do either street portraits or a combination of both, the input from the photographer critiquing your work should be really helpful. If your goal is to do more spontaneous street photography, which you were doing more of in the first batch, his advice is something to hear and understand, learn another approach from, but maybe not to follow when you're trying to do a different type of photography than he's espousing.

I think they're different types of "street" photography, both are great, but your goals don't necessarily have to be the same as his. But if they are, you've incorporated his lessons really well!

-Ray
 

Will

All-Pro
Aug 30, 2010
123
England
Antonio

I don't think there is anything wrong with any of those images, they are wonderful street portraits. Seems to me they are the core from which you will move out and explore the environment they inhabit. Looking forward to seeing that very much.
 

grebeman

Old Codgers Group
Antonio,

I have always admired your "street photography" and thought that your photographs often set the person in context which I feel can be lost by getting in closer. i would like to undertake such a project given a suitable subject, but as intimated by others I to don't have the nerve, although I might give it a go at certain re-enactment events where the participants expect to be photographed.

In terms of mentoring I have found it enlightening joining my local camera club last year. Our internal competitions are often judged/critiqued by the club chairman who is a trained judge and who's comments are mostly positive and constructive. That's not always the case when another member takes on that role, he's not a trained judge and some of his comments can be rather acerbic.

Equally I have found the externally judged competitions to be useful in terms of the feedback received.

For me I have always tended to crop my photographs in camera, but am learning the advantages of assessing the cropping afterwards and applying such where necessary. The thoughts on dead space also apply to some of my images. That can in some instances be tackled by cropping, although not if that dead space is on the diagonal.

I have been encouraged to be awarded the club trophy for digitally projected landscape/seascape of the year (an externally judged competition) and to be the first recipient of a new award of runner up photographer of the year (based on accumulated entries over the year), so something must be rubbing off :)

Barrie
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
I had some of my Tbilisi pics critiqued by Wolfgang Zurborn and Richard Bram. It was tough but a very positive experience.

I much prefer your first set. It's a personal thing - I'm much more interested in people in their environment than just people. Your first set tells me more than the portrait set. In fact if I were doing it I'd be stepping back further than in your first set to get more of that environment. I think the 'get closer' mantra has its place but it has also become a cliche.

Your first shot is wonderful. Again, it's a personal thing but I much prefer the colour shots to the black and white. It seems an awful shame to lose all the wonderful colour you have there.
 

bluzcity

Top Veteran
Jul 24, 2013
104
Memphis, TN
Brent
I thank you for sharing your journey and applaud your willingness to risk vulnerability. The market possibly serves as a metaphor for learning. Each vendor (photographer) has something to offer to the appetite (photographic desire). You know your current mentor will have something to offer and you partake. That will please the appetite for a season. But the hunger will continue and there will be other vendor/s with new offerings. Bon Appetit! FWIW In the 1st set I feel a connection to 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, and 14. In the second set numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7.
 

pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
I can't say I like one series more than the other. They're both beautiful and tell different stories. I can see why Eric Borcherding said what he said and encourages you to find the story in the details. Although street photography may aim to be as less intrusive as possible, I guess documentary work chooses a different angle. The last shot makes me curious to the background and thoughts of the man but without context (of other photos) it is a portrait that could have been taken anywhere. So I wonder what suggestions Mr. Borcherding will come up with to photograph details of people that tell the story of the market.

I think that it is a great idea to have a mentor, even for pros like yourself. It is good to be challenged and to learn from other perspectives! I wish I had one!

Thanks for sharing your experience and results. I've learned a lot from it!

Best regards, Peter
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
Thinking back to my own experience at the workshop, neither of the folks I dealt with tried to get me to alter my basic approach. I explained how I shot and what I liked to shoot and they worked with that to offer a critique of my images - what worked and what didn't and why.

I know it wasn't your mentor who mentioned the 'comfort zone' phrase but I think that sometimes what people call your comfort zone is actually your photographic style, something that you have arrived at - consciously or otherwise - on your photographic journey that expresses your vision. While I can see some merit in being taken out of it, I can also see that it might be simply a distraction.

Most of the photobooks I have reflect a photographer's style as an expression of his or her vision. Put a unmarked image from any of them in front of me and I could probably have a good go at identifying the individual. A consistent style and way of seeing - and capturing the world - is a difficult thing to achieve, but good photography is too challenging for a jack-of-all-trades approaches.

Perhaps your mentor is more comfortable bringing you into his 'comfort zone' aka 'style and vision' in order to work with your images, but whether that is getting the very best out of you is another matter. (That, of course is not to say that your second set is anything other than wonderful, just that I think your first set is better and is clearly, to me, an 'Antonio' set.)
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
I figured I would give an update of how the mentorship continues to progress.

Borcherding was mostly pleased with the second set of portraits. I also added four environmental shots of the area, one of which he liked quite a bit, one which he said showed some promise, and two which were dismissed outright.

As to the second set of shots, he was mostly pleased with them. He still insists that I should work each subject more intensely, which I now understand as meaning that I should not be satisfied with the first shot but rather, I should try different perspectives and compositions, and one of them may very well end up being better than the first shot. This is an approach that, while not feasible or desirable for every shot, I intend to incorporate into my shooting.

Of the second set, he thought that this shot was above and beyond the rest:


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr

We met again last Thursday, but I had no new shots to bring, so we ended up just chatting about photography in general. He asked if I would like for him to come shooting with me and, of course, I said yes.

So, this morning, we met at the Santurce Market. To my surprise, he did not bring a camera. He said he just wanted to see how I worked. This was certainly a new experience for me, but it was fun and certainly very educational. He would intervene after I had taken a first shot, suggesting things I should look for and alternative points of view. Both of us interacted quite a bit with some of the folks I photographed.

Today was a very rainy day, so the light was very different from what I had to work with the first two shoots. This is the pick of the litter from today´s shoot:


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr


En la Plaza del Mercado
by ramirezaponte, on Flickr

Borcherding has not yet seen the edited and processed shots, so the feedback on this set is still forthcoming.

One thing I must note is that I am impressed and touched by Borcherding's generosity. It is one thing to mentor someone in the context of a class, and another to offer one-on-one mentorship, without any pay or compensation.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

ReD

Hall of Famer
Mar 27, 2013
123
His payment / compensation is the tutoring & the rapport - you are both on a winning streak
its obvious from the photos
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
124
SoCal
Bob
His payment is the appreciation that only a student can offer. I love "giving back" it just sometimes not easy to find the right student, he obviously has. Your work is really very nice, I see the same potential in your imagagry that he does. Not every body has the gift of being able to see, then create an image not just a recording. We'll done, beautiful stuff.
 

christilou

Legend
Jul 13, 2010
164
Sunny Frimley
Looking at the thread from the beginning I can see a definite change here, the latest set have much more of an immediacy to them. Perhaps this is because you got up closer to your subjects or maybe had more interaction with them?
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
Looking at the thread from the beginning I can see a definite change here, the latest set have much more of an immediacy to them. Perhaps this is because you got up closer to your subjects or maybe had more interaction with them?
There's definitely more interaction. I've been there three times now, and I think maybe the folks are starting to get more used to my presence. This time, I actually spent a very significant proportion of my time there just talking to some of the people. Very nice folks, every single one that I photographed.

It's not without its perils, though. This one woman almost attacked me when I raised my camera to my eye to take her shot. She literally jumped up and looked like she was going to strike me. Of course, I stepped back and quickly apologised (and did not take the picture). I felt bad, though, as it really isn't my intention to irritate anyone.

Several of the people I have photographed have asked for prints. I'll make a set of 4x6 or 5x7 prints and hand them out the next time I go.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

Petach

Hall of Famer
Oct 22, 2011
123
UK, Essex
Peter Tachauer
I am late to the party here. Be it a twinkle in the eye, a curl of the lip, head tilted, quizzical look, pursed lips, the way they smoke or how they dress....seeing the personality come through regardless of contextual situation....imagining their lives....being in their shoes for that nano second. As a viewer; an avid people watcher I love them all....they draw me in. If a stranger can sit transfixed and look....nay...study each photo.....you have done your job. I defy anyone to just skim these.
 

stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
123
Down Under
Mark
I'm not quite sure what rock I've been living under for the past month or so, because I cannot understand how I missed this post and thread.

Antonio, my dear friend, this is an excellent but very difficult education. I can only imagine the personal challenge associated with it - as your mentor would quickly identify your soft spots and target them strategically and dramatically. But I can see quite an evolution in such a short period. Some of these images are so powerful - and shows the autobiographical aspect of image making. This honesty betrays not only a good mentor but a dedicated student. I hope your relationship is a long and fruitful one, and sincerely hope you continue to share this journey with us all.

Personally, I think I'd love an opportunity to develop as you are. As you explore your limits, you would learn so much about yourself through the medium of your photography and your self-expression.

Well done my friend.
 

john m flores

All-Pro
Aug 13, 2012
124
Thanks for sharing your journey, Antonio, how your mentor is working with you, your thought process along the way, and the results. It's all food for thought and the results speak for themselves. Well done.
 

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