What Makes A Photo Work?

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Camera Angle Is So Important

The original image as presented for feedback.

Our Anonymous Photographer has submitted a photograph that is no doubt a great memory and an important part of their travel photo album. The positioning of the subjects together and behind the railing is good, the soft lighting provides plenty of detail with no heavy shadows, but there are areas that can certainly be improved.

I am going to stick my neck out and suggest this was a set-up for a tourist group. If it isn't, I apologise, but certainly I have been in situations like this where the subjects are perhaps a little nervous or even completely disinterested! In some ways, the biggest challenge in this photograph is the young girl's facial expression - I don't feel engaged by her demeanor. Even the boy is very stilted. How do you get around this? There maybe nothing you could do without being able to speak the language or without holding back the rest of the tour group. On the other hand, a chat to your tour guide or even making funny faces at the young couple may have created something less plain.

The next observation is camera position. The strong vertical wooden support behind the boy's head is very distracting and it may have been possible to avoid by taking a step to the right (but I stress it 'may' have been possible - I wasn't there so I don't know).

Here are my post-production suggestions. Begin by darkening down the image to give the foliage more detail. To my eye, the exposure in the submitted image is a little light (over exposed).

Of course, darkening down the image overall also darkens down the faces, so I have lightened these back up again using layers or an adjustment brush - see below.

Then I have darkened the edges of the image further so our eye comes into the subject more easily. As you know, I am a big fan of subtle vignetting!

Okay, so what about that wooden support. Using the clone tool, I have quickly removed it. I think this makes the image much stronger? But what about those two grass or bamboo stalks in the background?

With the grass stalks removed, there seems to be a little too much space to the left. 

So, would you crop the image fractionally on the left to create a stronger balance?

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