Damien Mason

Kangaroo Flat, Australia

I am a web designer, flash developer and illustrator. I live in Bendigo with my lovely wife Cheryl and out little kids Oscar and Lily and...

Critique of Erica van Manen's "Alone With A Rose"

Erica van Manen posted up her great photo Alone With A Rose for critique in the Critique Forum, and she’s kindly given me permission to publish my response here.

Agree or disagree I hope you’ll head over to the forum and drop in your own comments and feedback.

Hi Erica,

I do like this shot. The eyes are compelling, they really pull you in, and the colour is consistent and well-considered. However there’s two ways I find myself trying to interpret this photo, and each would be an effective shot, although they can’t really coexist.

The first is that this is a glamour shot. Your lighting is really good for this – it’s a nice warm tone that really compliments the skin. The eyes are just fantastic – your housemate should be proud of her beautiful eyes. The hair frames the face nicely, and the golden colour works well with the tone of the whole shot.

The problem with this primarily is the pose of the model – she looks uncomfortable. Her head is turned too far so she could look around at the camera, and along with the hand there it just makes for a bit of an awkward angle. Adding to this discomfort is the rose – it’s sitting up quite high, and is clearly just placed on top of the model rather than her interacting with it. I think that’s why Martin said it looks like a digital collage – the elements aren’t really working with each other.

The second interpretation is based on these elements that don’t work in a glamour shot, and that is that your model is dead. Quite a different interpretation than the first. However in this case the stillness of the shot, the awkward angle of the head and body and the rose placed on top work really well. The only changes I would suggest for that interpretation would be to have the eyes looking out past the camera instead of straight at it – more in line with the natural placement of the head. You could also try a cooler light to take some of the life out of the shot, but to be honest I think it would work with the warm light. It would give the whole thing the visual feel of a glamour shot but with a much more serious connotation.

Ultimately you know what you wanted to achieve with this photo, so you can choose what you might do differently next time to better convey the feeling you want. It’s important to realise how tiny details can completely change an image though.

I hope that helps

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