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2008 Assignment Critiques - Andrew Black


Sunday Supplement Brief/Reid Kerr

All of Andrew's Work.

My Critique


  • A good strong consistent visual style across all the shots, yet there's also a fair range too, almost certainly enough to fill a whole feature.

  • Good use of location lighting, adds drama to the shots, and helps to lift them well above the snapshot category.

  • Very usable DPS openers (2,5) - I use the plural because they're both pretty strong.

  • An absolutely cracking portrait shot - probably one of my favourites - against the grille and the wood (4).

  • Some nice detail shots (1,6), as mentioned before, we don't need to see a face in every shot.

Not So Good:

  • The usual criticism about handing in work that's just in Black and White - tempered by the fact that we didn't make much mention of this in the preliminary briefing.

  • The Fiat Punto (1,2,5). I'm sure it's a lovely car, although not if the one I hired a few years ago is anything to go by! However, I'm not sure it gives quite the right impression in these shots. Since we're showing off a Hollywood superstar I'd expect them to be driving something a bit interesting - not necessarily expensive, just not mass-produced, mass-market. Bear in mind I drive a Ford Focus, so I've nothing against such cars, but they don't have the same connotations as, say, Ferrari, or a Jaguar, or even a 2CV, though obviously for different reasons. The key here is to have a vehicle that "says" something, whether it be "flashy git" in the case of a Maserati, or "quirky" in the case of, let's say, a Fiat 500. None of this would matter, except that Andrew's made the keys such a prominent feature in one of the shots (1), and the car is fairly visible in the colour DPS as well (5).

  • Slightly sloppy cropping on the detail shots - the hint of jeans on the watch shot (6), and the lock on the car door in the key shot (1) both draw the eye away from the main point of attention.

  • The lighting is a little unflattering on a couple of the shots (2,3) - be wary of using lighting from below!

I liked Andrew's set a lot - it was another gloomy day in Glasgow when we visited Reid Kerr, I do remember being in Glasgow in blazing sunshine, but I always seem to be in a traffic jam on the M8 at the time! These shots have a very strong and consistent feel to them, but are let down mostly by attention to detail, or lack thereof. I should point out that I find Andrew's work stunning, generally speaking, particularly his landscape stuff which makes me go a bit wobbly. Practice working under pressure, and pay attention to little details, and it'll be even more stunning.

From Rich:

Some good shots here but for me it doesn’t entirely fit the brief. Using an urban setting gives the character a background story which fits well with the model used (not sure it’s very Sunday Supplement though). There’s some nice bits of lighting bringing out subtle details and the shots are well composed.

However I have two words, ‘Black & white’! I would much prefer to receive colour images that I could turn to black and white, this really limits the amount of usable shots as I would probably end up using these as insets. Therefore you’ve essentially taken a decision out of an Art Editor’s hands. Also I felt your detail shots were a bit off, I would much rather see details of the subject’s (actor’s) face, though if these objects were mentioned in the story they may have some use? Finally your model was a bit static, I didn’t really get any of his personality and his hands are in his pockets in almost every shot. I would much prefer to see a bit more movement.

I would get by with these shots but it would be hard work making a great looking feature and I may think twice about calling you back

From Emma:

Had it not been for the fact that I read on Mr Miles’s critique that this was shot for the Film star brief I really would have thought it was the Business and Ethics task.

There seems to be a lot of focus on status symbols (the watch, the keys to the car) but none of them are premium enough to point us towards Sam Delaney. And for our location we have the slightly sinister alley, it all spoke of dodgy dealings to me.

In short these images didn’t really ring my bells. You’ve got some strong portraits and have had a good play with how to light your subject but the elements here weren’t adding up for me and I really struggled to get over that. Also the balance seemed odd to have just one shot amongst six in colour.

Andrew the work on your blog is so much better and you don’t seem to have done yourself justice here. The thing is if I was commissioning you off the back of your portfolio imagery, and you handed these in, I’d be a tad confused. They don’t seem to relate at all.

You have a strong sense of style and a real feel to your other imagery; if you’d brought the same approach to this brief I think you would have totally blown the others out of the water.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a photographer needs to find their voice. You want people to look at your portfolio and see your style throughout it. Commissioners want to know who they are buying into after all. There’s the old adage that a photographer is only as good as their last commission, consistency helps with this no end.

From Marco:

Nice job overall in terms of showcasing Andrew’s ability to shoot at late notice on location with a coherent visual style across all images. Also well done for remembering it’s an editorial brief and therefore leave space for head/copy on dps shots. I particularly like the courage to shoot detail shots as well as the portraits. On the downside I find the lighting on a couple of the portraits too harsh and would have preferred a touch more subtlety. I also think it’s a bad choice of model but in the real world this wouldn’t be a problem as he’d be working with the real subject so I’m just being a bit of an arse over nothing.


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