DavidMLevine wrote in post #6153179
Ok... so the pose, the lighting and the composition are bad.
Well I guess I'll trash the posing guide I was using.
Got anything more concrete for me to work on? I have numerous books and have read a lot, but most I read deals with studio lighting - not outdoors.
Let me see if I can help any further. . . In the first shot, your daughter looks awkward. While Awkward poses have their place in fashion, in this case it doesn't express anything. I personally would like it more if she had perhaps cut her eyes over at you, maybe turned her face a little more towards the camera, something along those lines. Always step back and take in how she looks to you, such as what impression is she giving you with her pose. If it's awkward or uncomfortable, then look at what it is that bothers you about the pose and try coaching her til she's posed in a way that looks pleasing to you. Posing guides are great, but it's up to the model to make them a success. And not every pose is for every model either, once again, posing is to enhance or highlight their key features and take away from ones that aren't so great. For instance, if a subject has a big nose, you wouldn't pose them at a profile angle, as that'd make it stand out more and they'll never like them.
There's too much space in the top of that photo as well, perhaps crop it to an 8x10 format or so.
The second one is hard to tell what the meaning of the pose is. It looks like she's either begging or looking up to God. The bars behind her are distracting to the photo, as they draw your eye away from her. Composition is about using elements to draw your eye to your subject and not away from it. Look at your photos and always ask yourself if that's what you see or if your drawn away by a distraction in the photo. The lighting in this photo does not add to the mood or help create it. It confuses the viewer.
The last one really isn't that bad, other than the harsh sunlight on the background and spilling onto her. Then the missing arm, but the pose is otherwise very good and she has a great expression on her face. You could've shifted slightly to your left to even up the railing in relation to your subject, but the composition isn't bad, just could use some minor adjustments. I'd say it's acceptable composition though.
In terms of lighting, I personally will do everything I can to NOT fire a flash outdoors. This is my personal taste, but very very few photographers can fire a direct-on flash and make it look really good. You almost always want to separate the flash from the camera, which works really great, but was always too much of a hassle for me, so I just do without. If you really want to learn how to use the flash outdoor mounted on camera, then practice and learn how to make it work as a fill light and make sure it doesn't become the key light. If you balance it to where the flash works as a fill light, filling in shadows, but not overpowering the key light (which would be ambient light), then you can achieve some really nice results. I never took the time to learn this, so I can't offer you much advise. I just bought faster lenses so I can shoot in lower light without it. But direct flash really flattens the image and hardly ever makes for a pleasing image unless it compliments the mood of the photo.
Learn to "see" light. In other words, pay attention to the lighting on your subject and how it effects the mood of your shot. I learned by looking at photos on this forum and then seeing how they lit the subject. Unless they do a lot of PP to it or use more than two lights to light the shot, I can usually tell how they lit the shot and about where the lights were positioned. It's just a matter of light angles. This will help you when you are going for a particular look and feel to a shot and you will know where to start when configuring your lighting for the shot.
Outdoor lighting can be tough and it really depends on what you're trying to achieve in an image as to when the best time to shoot is. The softer light, when the light is below the horizion or behind clouds, generally works better for portraits. Direct sunlight works great for high-contrast shots, but I personally have a hard time keeping my exposure under control as it's easy to blow out your shadow detail while trying to not blow out your highlights. The LCD screen is difficult to see in this condition as well, so I try avoiding it unless I've got something in particular in mind requiring this light.
Most importantly, don't get discouraged. Just a couple of years ago I shot photos that resembled what you shot. We've all been there, minus a few naturally born talented photographers. The key is keep trying and learning and you'll see your photos evolve over time. It takes time and there's no short cuts that I know of, just experience and a lot of trial and error. These forums are one of the best ways to get feedback and to get pointers on what you should change or could do different next time. With this feedback and an eagerness to learn, you'll get to where you're going eventually. I hope this helps, as it's just my opinion for what it's worth.