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2008 Assignment Critiques - Laura Liebnitz


Sunday Supplement Brief/Glasgow Metropolitan.

Laura's Full range of shots.

My Critique:


  • Laura handed in a good range of shots - different locations, approaches, crops, and styling. This helps to give the feature lost of depth.
  • Very strong DPS opener, that's also very usable with lots of space for headlines/copy (shot 6).
  • Variety of styling - simple little details like bare feet in some of the shots manage to add quite a lot to the feel of things.
  • Superb locations - the civic hall shot (6) is fantastic, and shows what can be done with a limited time, just by quickly asking permission. Also love the glass brick shot (3) - the passing bus gives it real punch, and we don't need to see the actress's face in every shot.
  • Range of crops, full length; half length, close-in head shots.
  • Adapting to conditions, improvising well. The weather was foul in Glasgow that day. Rather than be put off, Laura incorporated it in to the shots - the umbrella one's great.
  • Listening to what I'd said in the talk about maximising what you've got. Look closely and you'll see that 4 of the shots were taken in the same spot (1,2,4 and 5). Yet there's 3 distinct different shots in there, the only similar ones are the 2 in the green jacket. By adding a jacket, and umbrella, cropping in and moving round, lots can be milked from one spot.
Not So Good:
  • Technically some of the shots are a bit sloppy. The lovely DPS opener (6) has a slightly wonky horizon, and would perhaps benefit from a dash of light on the subject to lift her from the environment a little (although I realise that may have been impossible under the circumstances). The landscape crop in the green jacket (5) is too "flashy" and harsh for my liking. The black and white umbrella shot (1) is perhaps a little too dark as well.
  • As with other submissions, be wary of handing in black and white images without a colour backup. This is a very nitpicky criticism, as we didn't make any particular point about this in the briefing.
I ought to point out that Glasgow was the first venue we visited, and we'd not tried the brief before. We were learning as much as the students were, if I'm honest, and we discovered a few basic production problems almost as soon as we sent people on their way. For the rest of the venues we gave a much more thorough talk before despatching people, and tried to guide participants around some of the obvious pitfalls. Plus it was raining that afternoon, which it hardly EVER does in Glasgow! Overall, Laura's was one of our favourite entries. She gave us a great range of shots, a couple of which were simply stunning. The variety of work she turned in is the answer to those people who come back to us and say "I didn't have enough time....."!

From Rich:

I felt this shoot wavered from the excellent to the pointless. Your straight portraits were very dynamic and could even make it to a cover. There were two very strong options for an opening DPS. However I thought there were only really four shots that were usable here. I would have liked to have a colour option of the black and white image you sent. The shot taken through the glass blocks is far too abstract to use as this is about the person.

The cropped portrait shot is very strong with lovely detail, I think - stick to your strong points and leave the abstract for your personal photography.

From Emma:

Looks to me like Laura has decided to shoot for the Sunday Supplement brief, a brave choice in my opinion as in the ‘real world’ you’ve really got to bring it with this kind of assignment. The tricky thing with shooting celebrities, asides from their egos and their agents, is that you’re battling with countless other photographers who’ve already shot them or are about to tomorrow. Capturing that definitive image for your client, for your folio and for potential syndication is a tough task indeed.

But Laura seems to be a girl up for a challenge and certainly hasn’t shied away from the job. Laura I love the variety of shots on hand here. You’ve given your client a great selection to fill their pages with and it really feels like you’ve taken their needs into account.

With the thought you’ve put into having a variety outfits and locations, having a B&W shot in the mix and playing with your crops and framing, for me, you’ve given the piece more substance.

The only variety I’m having problems with is the range of styles that seem to be at play here. There’s no cohesive treatment or lighting style to pull all the images together as the work of one photographer. You go from a bright flash blast, to softly and warmly lit interior portraits and then to a very dark umbrella shot.

Now across a whole 30+ page portfolio, with some good pieces to blend these approaches, you may well be able to make it work, but for a 7 shot story it feels confused.

Look over your archive, identify the images that you feel most proud of, the ones you get the best responses to and see if a feel starts to come through.

For me a successful photographer is as much about their technical ability as their brand. You want people to look at an image and know it’s yours on sight alone. Now I’m not saying you ringflash all your models to death like Mr Rankin but have a play and start to find your visual voice. After all that’s the fun bit!

From Marco:

Laura has been very ambitious here trying to get several types of shot at once and squeezing them into one brief. I admire her for her ability to get this many different images together in such a short amount of time but the downside is that I would have a problem making my pages look consistent. We have a black and white shot with the rest in colour, also an ID – type of set, a creative arty shot, and a museum curator portrait. Too much.

For my money the best shot is easily the cropped portrait against the brick wall with the nice contrast between human skin, rough brick and violently green fabric. This is a great close-up portrait. Sadly the matching landscape image is overlit (overexposed?). I think Laura should have thrown all her energy into getting variants of this shot to work using a selection of images from the tight crop she has supplied then ranging out to full figure using the grey brick background to provide some dead image for copy space.


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