Below is my first 'submission'. It's a piece of me and I'm actually quite proud of it. We had to photograph something that made us 'soulhappy'.....
For so many years - through so much heartbreak.. .I believed for you.
Through a broken marrage then, in my current wonderful marrage - 4 miscarriages - numerous IVF attempts and more surgery than I could number if I cared to… I believed for you.
After the heartbreaking decision to have a full and complete hysterectomy in my early 40’s….I believed for you.
After giving up and letting go….I still believed for you.
After all the fears of the great world of Adoption.. .I believed for you.
Through all the invasiveness, paperwork, decisions, paperwork, study groups, paperwork, life stories, paperwork, social worker interviews, paperwork, letters, paperwork, stress, stress, stress…..I believed for you.
Through the horrible, long, drawn out wait…I still believed for you.
Then, like a miracle, we were told your details. Two days later we saw your photo - our darling Ebony Grace Huaxing. My world has never been the same. I slept with your photo under my pillow for the 7 weeks it took for us to be able to travel to you and finally, on Christmas Day 2006, you were placed in my arms - right beside my heart - where you had lived for so long.
You are my everything - you are my song - you are my joy - you are like an extension of me - you, sweetheart - you are my Soulhappy….
I will warn you in advanced, I don’t think this critique is going to flow in the usual fashion..after reading your incredibly beautiful words, my mind is all a jumble and I’m struggling to refocus. The description of your journey strikes such a familiar chord with me, I think that’s why I feel totally overwhelmed in replying to you. My heart literally hurts to read the beginning of your story, and bursts when I read the end. I am certain I could not be happier for you. Thank you for baring a part of your soul in sharing as you have.
Okay, so…ready, set, critique.
While I do see some areas of blown highlight in the background, it’s not impacting the image greatly as you still have lovely detail through Ebony. For me, I would go straight in with a crop to remove those highlights and to bring strength again to the image. Having placed Ebony in the first third of the frame, you’ve already created some strong visual interest and her positioning still works well in other formats. Here are some ideas for how I might try cropping:
I personally love the first, just because I think it would make a beautiful canvas and really bring the focus in on Ebony’s gorgeous face. The chair behind is a little distracting as it’s a strong element, so perhaps an alternative would be a slightly wider aperture giving a more shallow depth of field, resulting in greater background blur. Another alternative might be to try a black and white conversion which has the ability to bring focus right in on a subject. Just as a side note, I’d probably never crop in this tightly - I’d be losing far too many valuable pixels and quality would deteriorate dramatically. In a session, I’d be likely to actually shoot the three frames you see below (well the middle one would be a crop from a landscape format) and see what looked best.
This second edit is a sqaure crop which still works quite nicely and removes those pesky highlights while showing off her pretty dress.
The third is just a portrait crop. I took this opportunity to tone down the bright orange areas in her dress which are causing color casts on her skin. It’s not a great job of it, I’ve ended up a little pastier than I meant to but you get the idea.. Be aware that anything magenta or orange has a strong likelyhood of doing this when shooting in bright light. (Umbrellas are the worst!).
I think you did a great job of your settings Jen, even if you are feeling overwhelmed and confused. It’s actually testament to how well you’re doing if you can take this image while feeling like things haven’t quite clicked yet. You have a great attitude and it will see you move ahead in leaps and bounds..just keep taking little steps forward, don’t give up, and the more images you take the easier it gets. Then one day, you do just ‘get it’. I promise!
Thank you so much for sharing your soulhappy.