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Old Jan 14, 2009, 8:39 AM   #1
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I learn about photography to a great extent by looking at what others have done and how they did it. The good examples help, but I find that examples of what not to do stick with me longer.

Please take a look at this portrait of President-Elect Barack Obama from http://pro.corbis.com/:

Everything I've learned about portrait photography tells me that this is an example of what not to do. The depth of field is way too shallow; his nose and cheeks are in focus, but his ears, his hair, even the ends of his eyebrows are soft.

To have this opportunity, and to only come away with this shot, would torment me for the rest of my life. Yet somebody else does it and gets it published on the cover of the Chicago Sun-Times Magazine!

Am I wrong?

Am I missing something?

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Old Jan 14, 2009, 5:10 PM   #2
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The photo is less than totally flattering and technically pretty so so.

This is no joke. I once walked up to a pro photographer and showed him where the on/off switch was for IS on his IS lens.

He'd owned the lens for a year and didn't know it was IS lens. He thanked me for showing him how to turn the IS on and off.

And that person is a "pro".
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 8:01 PM   #3
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I don't like this picture at all... the shallow DoF really ruins it. It almost looks like his head is unattached to his body, and his face is coming off the page.

There are a few merits to it - the lighting/exposure is nice - but the shallow DoF does not help this photo at all. I don't see how this would be published in any magazine.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 8:19 PM   #4
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"The depth of field is way too shallow" This is really a matter of taste. Shallow DOF like this was once very popular in portrait work especially for "stately" people. However IMO the effect would have worked much better if his head was not turned dead on into the camera, showing both of his out of focus wings, er, I mean ears. I also think it's poorly lit.

I must again refer to an article I once read in a photo magazine in which the author pointed out that hobbyist are often better photographers than pro's. Pro's are businessmen not artist and once they find a customer base they often never bother to learn new things or improved their skills.

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Old Jan 16, 2009, 1:54 PM   #5
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Of course, there's the "official" photo by Presidential Photographer Peter Souza


Remember, different strokes for different folks. Lots of portrait photographers try things just to do something different. Also realize when you're talking about a major publication it is the editor and NOT the photographer that selects the final image. Sure the photographer must submit the image but it's the editor's choice.

I am often amazed at the photos the editor of my newspaper chooses from the ones I supply. For whatever reason, my idea of a good photo and hers don't always fit. If I had to put money on it I'm sure the photographer had a number of more conventional photos submitted and the editor chose to go with "something different".
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