As well as Helen's "series" images, I also entered 5 separate images for the individual awards. One has been shortlisted and is on their landing page, but here are the images and the feedback...
AND THE REVIEWER FEEDBACK...
Thank you for the opportunity to review your photographs. You've submitted an eclectic collection of portraits that showcases your diverse approach to portraiture.
I enjoy the candid nature of your first photograph. You've captured a genuine expression of joy on this woman's face. Your subject seems to be comfortable in front of your camera which is the mark of a good portrait photographer. This image is rich with contrasting patterns which adds visual interest to the composition. Our eyes are generally drawn to the brightest part of a photograph, so her face gets a bit lost in the busy, high contrast background. I would recommend using post-processing to lighten her face. In the future, consider traveling with a small flash or strobe that will help resolve these type of issue in-camera.
Your second image presents us with another genuine interaction between two people. I agree that the expression on this man's face is one of compassion. This is a very busy image, with a somewhat distracting background. Unfortunately this photograph does not reveal the face or identity of the second person engaged in this conversation. Moving to the other side, or changing your vantage point might have corrected these issues. It is a good practice to make several images of scene from multiple angles in an effort to get that perfect shot.
This image made at a ComicCon is mildy terrifying. Mostly because it is taken completely out of context. (The only thing that suggests this was made at a conference it the passerby in the background.) I think you made the right choice leaving it in the frame. We live in a world saturated with imagery, so the important work will always rise above the foray. This is a dynamic image, but I wonder what you are trying to communicate? It is important to consider aesthetics but its important to realize that photography has the capacity to communicate important ideas that change our perception of the world. This is the type of work jurors find compelling. What are you trying to tell us about ComiCon? What experience do you want viewers to have with your portrait? What should we learn from you images? These are important questions to consider when making photographs or preparing a submission.
It is apparent that you have a genuine interest in capturing authentic human interactions. In the case of your fourth image, it's an interaction between a young man and his dog. Again, this person engages your camera with a smile. He feels at ease and this is one of your key strengths as a portrait photographer. Many of your images are close-cropped—we cant see the hands or arms of this man. I would encourage you to step back when photographing people. A great portrait photographer once pointed out the importance of including your subjects hands. We can learn more about a sitter's psychological state by reading their body language.
The low key lighting scanario in your fifth image makes for an intimidating portrait. This is exaggerated by your subjects penetrating and confrontational gaze. Illuminating the backdrop or bouncing light into the lower right corner of the frame would reveal additional detail while preserving this sense of drama. This is a strong image that I could see published as part of an editorial feature about this woman in a magazine or newspaper. These type of images are great to include in a portfolio when seeking assignments.
These are strong images Douglas. You have a strong technical skillset and I would encourage to keep taking risks. Continue to consider the conceptual value of your work in future images and projects and this will mean more success for you in these type of competitions. Best of luck moving forward!
Additional RecommendationsBooks (monographs)
Well. Here goes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.