Neirfy, winner of the musical contest, portfolio analysis

posted on 7th of october, 2011

Neirfy, won our musical contest so now it is time for her prize to take form.

We’re sitting at the imaginary round table, us Dreamstime Editors, our eyes transfixed on computer screens displaying an user portfolio.
“- This is not an easy task”, one of us comments.
Of course, it is never an easy task to asses someones work, be fair, critique the mistakes without being mean but also highlight the good parts without sounding pompous. Besides, we have never done such an in-depth analysis of someones portfolio. We’re all a bit nervous about it.

- ”Well guys, we already love her, she chose "Pink Floyd-Another Brick in the Wall" as her favorite song, and that was our favorite song. We already have established common ground. Now let’s do what we do best and look at Neirfy's images”, Ioana says, and everyone gets in review mode.

Sebastian looks up from his computer screen: “- I think she does great isolation work in terms of lighting but regarding the large amount of simple subjects on white present in microstock photography I would recommend more complicated subjects, compositions or sets of objects.”

“- I agree with you Seb, Kutt says, she has good skills in retouching and this truly does good to any photographer. Today in the age of digital imaging and its nondestructive editing possibilities, one really does not have to be EXCELLENT in the field anymore, not so much as in the past, where you had to take every aspect of a photo into account BEFORE pressing that release button... It seems to me that Neirfy here, has put those skills to good use and this has resulted in very nice images - with vivid colors, academic but good compositions mostly, well executed isolations. The ideas for elaborate concepts and setups will come, when the time is right. This has to come from within oneself, it cannot be pushed too hard. When you have shot a certain amount of images in your life and have taken the time to analyze them (plus let others analyze them as well, like here and now :) then you start intuitively see and judge the worthwhile situations and views, ideas for how concepts might be presented in the most intriguing ways.”

Petar looks at us from his chair: “- My favorite images are these two

,they have angle and dynamics.”

“I love the forest image too (for its depth and color, it feels like 3D-image), Kutt replies, and also the rocket which is unique and speaks of many things inherent to humanity, regardless of the countries or regimes that have been”

Martine looks at Kutt saying “You know, I love the rocket too, it’s spectacular because the shot was taken from so low, if she would do the same with her models the images would be much more dynamic”

Marius, looking at the portfolio with the keen eye of an editor who has seen thousands of pictures, says “I believe that she has a decent portfolio for a photographer that it is taking pictures as a hobby. Looking at the first and last 200 submissions, I can see improvements of composition (for travel photography) and lighting (for isolated objects).”

Viorel is pondering things and gives his verdict “I like her portfolio, it gives me an optimistic feeling. Travel photos are nice, well lit, well composed, but she should try to be more selective with her submissions (one good photo with Trakai Castle should have been enough, instead of four, and as a proof- only the best one was sold until now).”

At this point we have pretty much established what we do like about Neirfy’s portfolio and Ioana asks everyone to take a few minutes and put out on the table what she can improve and, more important, how she can do that.

After another brain stormig session this is what the team came up with:
- Travel photos - most of the shots are 'standing man standard perspective'. Try different angles, panoramas, BW conversions etc.
Use the model more often, and definitely look for more people shots. 3 models are a bit too few. Don’t take only portraits, but go for more people in action images.
- Combining people images with the travel locations can be a great new venue. Either way, more people images with better composition and better lighting. Use at least a reflector when shooting outdoor portraits.
- From what I've reviewed recently, there are some lighting and white balance issues. Use a gray card to correct the WB of the images.
- In architecture shots, very often you have to compensate for the lens distortions. I'm not speaking of focus falloff, but barrel distortions mostly. Open the image in PS, make a free transform and confidently drag those upper corners apart. Even moderate transformation will do good for the overall effect. Unless you purposefully wish to display the sense of perspective and vastness of the building, like when standing in front of a church or skyscraper and pointing upwards. Always check that your horizon is level. Avoid mid-day shoots with drop shadows, also dull and gray weather will not do.
- Put the models into some context, they do not sit on a chair all day, do they? Follow them around, perceive what they do and how and where. Which activities would be useful to capture and fun. Experiment with light and movement - when chasing or being chased by a child, there should be fun and action in the image, motion blur, but only in the moving background, etc. If you work at home this would provide you a lot of opportunities by just watching your family go along with their activities at home...

- Analyze your own portfolio once in a while, and see what sells, what is interesting (many views), but for some reason does not sell that well (few downloads). You'll see, that the most popular images are those with good or even innovative lighting, and with people in them. People occupied with activities. Strong feelings, good backgrounds (blurry enough to enable the subjects to stand out), abstract enough to be able to illustrate a multitude of concepts.
- Especially with buildings/architecture, watch your horizon and verticals. Straighten them, or go diagonally all the way. No in-betweens :)
- Many of your images have leading lines which give a nice feel of depth. Try to optimize those lines by starting them from the corners as much as possible without looking unnatural, like you did in the image on the right. Small investment, large gain!
- Take care to choose the subject of your image and compose the image around that by, e.g. using the rule of thirds. Often that way you will end up with some natural looking copy space as well as a more appealing image.

Dare to decide what the main subject is, as is the case in image number 1, decide between the houses and the boat, between the sky and the water. Try to isolate the main subject by composition or dof (or both) as you did in image number two. but not so much in image number 3. The building in that image would create a great contextual backdrop for the statue when blurred by dof.
Exploit/bribe the kid! Great model you have there!Use the three models in a session, there are endless family concepts. Both the park and beach locations could be visited for lots of happy, playing family interactions with these three models.
You need to be less shy composition-wise. Food shots could be more elaborated rather than depicting single subjects over white; most of the architecture shots lack dynamics and dramatics, ie. too many verticals and horizontals.

Browse through our categories and subcategories and find more subjects to explore in order to diversify your portfolio

Upload only the photos you really like, not every photo that "would eventually make it online" as is the case with image number 1 or image number 2. Taking pictures as a hobby gives you the opportunity to select only the best photos for displaying online, and that opportunity shouldn't be wasted with common compositions like the one in image number 3.
Eye contact is important in stock images but some exceptions can be made when the situation requires it.

More punctual examples:

In image number 1 the composition is rather poor, one shoud search./buy for a broccoli stalk, this being the main "visual subject" while in image number 2 the cars do not act as a frame, the point of view is a bit strange (looking also at the cars), centered, unbalanced volumes. The woman in image number 3 is supposed to be meditating, not looking at me, sitting in a strange position. So, be more focused on the subject/concept of the image. The composition is good, the woman should have had the eyes closed and facing to the left of the image.

Backgrounds have to be also considered an important part of the composition - in the first image the background is obstructing the subject while in the second image a wider/full view of the subject gives the designer more options to crop and fit the image in a project

On camera flash should be used only as a fill light, not as the main light, it would have been a big plus in this second image

Update: Another important aspect of your portfolio with direct effect on your sales is the keywording. While your keywording is good on the overall, you may want to check some misspelled titles. The titles are very important for the search algorithm and we recommend users to check spellings with online dictionaries when in doubt. Also, a few titles tend to be quite long and this may influence the search relevancy and ranking. The average number of keywords recommended per title is five. A few irrelevant keywords appear here and there for some of your images. Not only are they annoying but they also affect the image ranking in searches so the best thing is to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Taking a final look at your portfolio, you are off to a good start and diversifying with varied subjects, different angles and creative lighting will rise you to the top.

It’s been a a great, fun experience for the editors of Dreamstime to analyze your portfolio and we hope you will have something to learn from this.

Comments (20)

Posted by Diavata on October 13, 2011
Congratulations Neirfy!
Posted by Dailyislam on October 13, 2011
Congratulations Neirfy. Great information here,thank to share me such a nice post
Daily Islam
Posted by Thanatonautii on October 12, 2011
That`s very interesting! Maybe the DT editors should do more things like this one, if they get the free time :)
Posted by Meryll on October 12, 2011
I like very much the whole idea and action - the musical song contest and final critique of Nerfy portfolio too... Useful! A great fun here in DT!
Posted by Designprintck on October 11, 2011
Nice photos.
Posted by Onime on October 11, 2011
Congratulations Neirfy!
Posted by smartview27 on October 10, 2011
A lot of things to learn !
Posted by Nikitu on October 10, 2011
Neirfy, we are very happy that our review is helpful to you and, as mentioned, don't hesitate to ask questions.
Posted by Neirfy on October 10, 2011
Wow! Thank you very much!! I'm realy the beginer and review of Dreamstime inspector always is a guide for me. Thank you onece again for such personalised review it will helps me very much!
Posted by Mary981 on October 08, 2011
fantastic article! very helpful.. please do more of these!!!

...my only question.. just not sure in the 8th paragraph how "Marius asses the whole screen" Would someone please provide a demonstration??
Posted by Titania1980 on October 08, 2011
Congratulations, Neirfy!! I will take notice of the recommendations for my own porfolio ;)))))
Posted by Afagundes on October 07, 2011
Congrats Neirfy, and thanks to all the editors whose insight was amazingly interesting and will help us photographers to increase our portfolio quality as well as Neirfy's

I think you could do this more often with others portfolios, its fun and can really help us.
Posted by Scottysally2 on October 07, 2011
Congratulations Neirfy. Great information here, thanks to all the reviewers. :)
Posted by Francy874 on October 07, 2011
Congrats Neirfy! and thanks to all editors for your interesting article :-)
Bye, Francesca
Posted by Llareggub on October 07, 2011
Superb and plenty of information there for us all to learn from :D

It would be great if something like this could be done periodically to help the community learn from the people who will be reviewing our photos... Not too often though we don't want that wait time creeping up ;)
Posted by Mariaam on October 07, 2011
Congratulations Neirfy! Thanks editors for the great article!
Posted by Egomezta on October 07, 2011
This is very interesting, I wish a could get a portfolio analysis too. Altought there are many tips for everyone here.
Posted by Nero67 on October 07, 2011
It was really a good initiative and a very useful article. I would pay for an analysis of my portfolio...;-) When's the next contest? Bye, Francesco
Posted by FabioConcetta on October 07, 2011
This is a very interesting blog that helps me at correcting the mistakes that I can make myself!
Posted by BCritchley on October 07, 2011
Well wrote, lots and lots here to help Neirfy and anyone that reads this blog :-)

Brett, UK.

Comments (20)

This article has been read 4028 times. 16 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Neirfy.

About me

Senior Editor, Remote Editors Coordinator, and Social Media Wizard at Dreamstime. I have enjoyed photography ever since my father first introduced me to the world of arts as a child. Although I have not chosen a career as a photographer I happened to come across a job here, at your favorite microstock site, in 2005. That is when things took a 180 degrees turn and photography took its well deserved place in my life. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photographers grow and mature into their portfolios and that is an experience I would never trade. I would encourage anyone to follow th... [Read more]

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