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2008 Assignment Critiques - Amie Parsons


I've already critiqued Amie's work, as she asked me to for a college assignment, so her's will follow a slightly different format to the others. I'm a lazy sod and can't be bothered to re-write it!

Sunday Supplement Brief/ Sheffield Norton College

Tom's Critique:

Amie has produced one of the most, if not the most polished answer to this brief across all the 12 colleges we visited. The 2nd part of the brief where mention is made of Rankin and others was supposed to prevent people from just shooting their mates in a grotty flat, but unfortunately all too many people didn't make much effort in this respect, and it was very rare to see production values at the level Amie has used. The choice of model is excellent, along with the variety of clothing (far too many people just used 1 outfit) and attention to detail - there's different jewellery in the shot - another rare thing, along with different shoes. Having said that the patterned dress used in the first DPS (1) seems a little out of place on the plain black background, and not quite in keeping with the more formal feel of the other clothes. Mind you, that's more a styling criticism than a photography criticism!

I like the fact that the lighting is not only very well balanced, but is also consistent across the shots. With a subject such as this, and a clean, studio feel, it would be a bit inappropriate to start mucking about with harsh shadows, flare and other tricks - the strong simple approach works very well here. The back-light has been kept under control too, as it's very common to see people overcooking it and burning things out.

Across the range of shots there's a very "hollywood"/High Class feel to things - very classical poses, and "filmic" feel to the lighting. The reclining pose in the red dress (2), and the close up shots (3,8) are very reminiscent of "Golden Age" Studio portraiture, and since this is supposed to be a series on a well known actress it fits the bill perfectly.

I was impressed by the range of shots - there's lots of different options for the Art Director to play with in their layouts. The variation from full length shots (2,7), right up to Head and Shoulders Close ups (3,6,8) is very good as well, and prevents the shots from looking repetitive. There's even a range of opening Double-Page-Spreads to choose from (1,2).

If I could criticise anything about this entry I'd possibly like to see a different background or situation - although there is something to be said for the harmony of having all the shots on black. Overall though, it's very hard to criticise anything, as it's one of the strongest entries we saw. Top bananas.

From Rich:

I thought these images fitted the brief really well. They are well produced with good lighting, sharp detail and lots of space. I was particularly impressed with the range of shots from a single setting, good use of different outfits, poses and crops.

If I was laying out this feature in a Sunday Supplement I would breathe a big sigh of relief with these images as it would make my job very easy. Plenty of room for headlines and story text. Good mix of portrait and landscape too (not just the same shots with the camera turned round). With at least two shots there to use as possible covers and a further two as excellent opening spreads I would be more than happy to receive this shoot. Tick!

From Emma:

I like Amies tackling of this brief. Bringing her star into the studio she’s gone for a shoot that is as much about the fashion as it is the model.

And Amie I certainly salute your styling considerations! Four wardrobe changes in eight shots really helped to keep the pace of this shoot going. I also like that you’ve taken a simple/classic approach to the brief through your lighting and model poses, but still provided your client with a good variety of crops and compositions.

Approaching the celeb spread like this is a popular method seen in monthly woman’s magazines, and one that presents the photographer with a great opportunity to have a play with expressions and personality.

After all this isn’t a regular model and definitely more than a clotheshorse, this is a movie star and your audience are coming with a set of fixed assumptions. This gives you great scope to play. You can turn a comedic character into a classic beauty or show the softer side of an action star. Think Bonnie Wright (of Harry Potter fame) in the recent Grazia fashion story and Sienna Miller in the Boss perfume ads.

I suppose this is where my only, very small, criticism comes in.

Shots 4 & 7 have your model looking mighty uncomfortable and ever so slightly contorted. If poses aren’t working or your model is starting to tire don’t be afraid to lighten the mood in the studio a bit and even get them to start doing a few daft things.

You can keep the shots polished and glamorous and still a inject bit of relaxed fun into the shoot. I always quite like it when you get a couple of looser laughing shots in amongst the poses.

Overall very good Amie, I’ll be keeping an eye out for you in years to come.

From Marco

Amie seems to have studied some classic film portraiture poses and used them so hats off to her for her research (or possibly basic knowledge as she may have already known these). I like the range of images provided and the fact she allowed for copy space on several of her images. Also well done on thinking about a range of different clothing items. Technically also the lighting is nice and polished and I particularly like the use of backlight on some of the images.

If I had to pick holes I would say I would have preferred some form of background or setting such as a hotel room (most likely location in the circumstances described by the brief) but better to shoot as Amie has done in the studio and get it right than to task load on location and screw it all up so possibly a good call. As an AD I would be satisfied with the job but would try and push her for location work next time.


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