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2008 Assignment Critiques - Jonathan Macguire


Sunday Supplement Brief/Sheffield Norton College.

All of Jonathan's Work.

My Critique.


  • Very good use of an already pretty cool location. There are some extremely interesting angles and crops here. I know from speaking to Jonathan, that all these shots were taken within a 50 yard radius, and yet there's a great depth to the shots. The location is obviously playing a central role in these shots, but it never completely takes over, and it also gives the subject something to do, as well as a series of situations for Jonathan to exploit.
  • Somebody actually handed in a black and white shot with the colour shot as a backup. I'm impressed!
  • Not 1, not 2, but 3 DPS opener options (5,8,9). Top bananas!
  • Besides the range displayed in the location, there's a great variety of poses and positions from the model - not just 8 shots of "stand against the wall and look moody". I particularly like the "sprawled across logs" (9) shot.
Not So Good:
  • Technically they're a bit lacking in polish. I'd like to see something used to balance out the harsh sunlight - either some fill-light or just a reflector. It would help to lift them even further from snapshots and into the realm of Sunday Supplement work.
  • Attention to detail. I appreciate it was a bit of a crowded location, and as always with this assignment, time is not on your side, but there are a couple of shots where a bit more attention to detail would work wonders. There's a hand in the background on the shot with the hollow wood (8), and the shot of Sam reading her script (1) has all sorts of stuff in the background that only draws the eye away from the main subject. The best solution to this sort of thing is to get into the habit of running your eye round the frame before you've finished composing the shot and get rid of anything that doesn't need to be there. You can do this either by selectively cropping the shot.
Overall a very good entry, which if it had been lit or polished a bit better would have been truly outstanding.

From Rich:

I liked this shoot, it’s very bright and colorful. There was at least two I could use as an opening DPS and a good choice of other images for building a story. Good range of portrait and landscape too.

I felt sometimes the shots focussed too much on the background and the subject got a bit lost. Also I didn’t much see the point in some of the post production as I felt it rendered these shots useless.

I don’t think this shoot would win any awards but I could work with it

From Emma

I’ve always thought myself a fairly observant sort. Hawk-eyed almost, but with more mascara and fewer feathers. So when I clicked on Pic1 and spied the paper in the models hand I figured she was reading her script, all be it a rather thin one!

So of course when I clicked on Pic8 I didn’t fail to notice the disembodied hand in the middle of the image either. Now unless this Sam Delaney is being photographed on the set of the latest Addams Family movie, I think Jonathan may have dropped the ball here.

Of course I could be wrong and this may be an intentional nod to the craftsman whose yard we’re in, but it does feel a little too incidental to have been shot on purpose. Was there not a frame a sec after sans hand?

Jonathan, I do appreciate you’re not paying a location fee and therefore not getting the privilege of an empty set but perhaps there were ways you could have used this to your advantage?

Too many photographers fall into the trap of answering a portrait brief only ever placing the one model in front of their lens. With a story like this, a well-lit, perhaps front facing portrait of Sam with a hive of whirling activity behind her could have made for a more dynamic shot. You’ve got a busy set, work with it; just don’t forget where you want your viewer to be focussing!

You’ve chosen a fantastic location and explored a good variety of angles, really making the most of it and getting your model to interact with the props around her. I just think you can afford to be a bit bolder on future shoots.

From Marco:

Hmm, brief 1, or is it 2 again? Could be either as this set could work for either a folk singer or a celeb. (well, apart from the 25 years thing Marco, but we'll forgive you for not spotting that - or did you think the lady in the pictures was older than she looks?)

I have mixed feelings about this set – some of it is fab, some of it doesn’t work for me at all so I’ll have to divide this crit into 2.

Lets start with what I don’t like: In gallery order shots 1,2,3,5and 6 look to me a lot like bog standard ‘this what I did on my day out with my girlfriend’. Just all very obvious and compositionally weak.

On the other hand this is what I REALLY like: shots 4,7,8,9,10. As an AD these are the shots I would use for my feature – particularly 7,8,9. I would also ask Jonathan to supply me with a desaturated version of 8 and 9 to match 7 and if I got this I would be delighted. It’s worth noting also that desaturating 8 and 9 would overcome the slightly harsh sunlight on the model’s face in shot 8. All of these shots I like are compositionally strong and interesting.

Basically, Jonathan has done a very nice job but hasn’t been self-critical enough in his shot selection to drop the images that don’t work opting instead to hand everything over but that should come with experience. I would give him more work in a real world scenario.


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