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Okay, what areas do I need to improve on.


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15 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Understood. Markets -- especially paying ones -- within Latin America for the types of images that you mention tend to be very limited. That said, back in print and film days, I manged to find some Latin American outlets for my travel articles and photos. I was a regular contributor to an English-language newspaper in Mexico City, a magazine in the Yucatan that published in both Spanish and English, the Tico Times, plus a couple of other publications. All these markets basically dried up when the world went digital. Asi es la vida.

 

An interesting (maybe) aside -- I used to sometimes get invited on press trips by tourism boards in Latin America. When I told them that I had outlets for articles in the region, they weren't the least bit impressed. They of course were interested in North American and European markets.

 

One of Jinotega's reasons for having new shops and a supermarket open here during the Covid 19 mess is that the town is not dependent on tourism.  Coffee, some light manufacturing, legal and medical centers for the department, and coffee processing and packaging, truck farming, and cattle raising.   Long run, Spanish and Portugese speaking America is going to route around the US.   Spain seems to have solved some of the problems that Latin America still has.

 

Two thirds of Nicaragua's tourism is Spanish-speakers from the region. 

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I would play more in stereotypes.  I have actually had quite a few zoom and sales from image of people dressed up in what the rest of world thinks of the place,  

 

As someone mentioned there are some odd framing decision.  My favourite subject on page 1 is 

 

A typical country bred Spanish type horse with hackamore, a homemade saddle adapted from pack saddles, and a country rider. - Image ID: 2DE3X1J

 

However i feel too much is cut off oddly, cowboy hat, cowboy boots, rear of horse, legs of horse. 

 

By that point I'm not even sure what the subject of the image really was, my eyes don't know where to focus, and just goes on finding more stuff cut off:.

 

 

I would find one story, and make your image from there.  

 

 

On other side, you have a lovely 

 

Municipal market vendor in Nicaragua on a sunny day - Image ID: 2DABX6F 

 

She is a great character, fits the bill as what someone in Nicaragua would be,  But if i am looking for that as a buyer, i also want something that position her as a Market vendor, maybe a stall, interaction with a buyer, showing her produce....  also be careful with the cutting off her elbow. 

 

 

 

I love

 

Nicaraguan man working on an industrial sewing machine in his carpentry and upholstery shop in Jinotega, Nicaragua.- Image ID: 2DA4WM9

 

 

This would fit my need if i found it, everything is there, it tells the story, well presented.  

 

 

 

Edited by meanderingemu
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3 hours ago, Martin L said:

I know you wanted to get some kind of critique but I just wanted to take a side step to say that I really enjoyed looking through your portfolio, IMHO you have some great pics.

Unlike John (sorry John!) I really like the more 'natural' shots of the people doing normal stuff and streets of where you live. Really interesting.

 

 

Thanks.  I think I need to work on doing natural shots that do have more impact, though.   The two women in red masks would have been more readable if I'd used a longer lens. 

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23 minutes ago, meanderingemu said:

I would play more in stereotypes.  I have actually had quite a few zoom and sales from image of people dressed up in what the rest of world thinks of the place,  

 

As someone mentioned there are some odd framing decision.  My favourite subject on page 1 is 

 

A typical country bred Spanish type horse with hackamore, a homemade saddle adapted from pack saddles, and a country rider. - Image ID: 2DE3X1J

 

However i feel too much is cut off oddly, cowboy hat, cowboy boots, rear of horse, legs of horse. 

 

By that point I'm not even sure what the subject of the image really was, my eyes don't know where to focus, and just goes on finding more stuff cut off:.

 

 

I would find one story, and make your image from there.  

 

 

On other side, you have a lovely 

 

Municipal market vendor in Nicaragua on a sunny day - Image ID: 2DABX6F 

 

She is a great character, fits the bill as what someone in Nicaragua would be,  But if i am looking for that as a buyer, i also want something that position her as a Market vendor, maybe a stall, interaction with a buyer, showing her produce....  also be careful with the cutting off her elbow. 

 

 

 

I love

 

Nicaraguan man working on an industrial sewing machine in his carpentry and upholstery shop in Jinotega, Nicaragua.- Image ID: 2DA4WM9

 

 

This would fit my need if i found it, everything is there, it tells the story, well presented.  

 

 

 

 

Thank you. 

 

He's a neighbor and wanted me to photograph his finished products.  I have about three other shots of him at the sewing machines,  looking at me.   I find that people will cooperate with my directing them if they get to pose first. 

 

I do want to take more at the Municipal Market. 

 

The stereotypes I find most fun to play with are the gringos here.  Not so sure those sell that well in Gringolandia, though.   Missed getting Drunk Bob on his walker before he died, though.    We are much more characters than most Nicaraguans. 

 

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1 hour ago, MizBrown said:

 

So I have to do what I can do until I can afford some of the lenses on my B&H wish list: a macro lens, the Sony 24-105mm f/4 for a walk-around a7 lens, and Sony's 200-600mm variable aperture zoom (I've already got a monopod). 

 

 

 

Hi Miz Brown,

That's an impressive range of kit! I can highly recommend the 24-105 F/4 for a walk around / general lens, the image quality and build is excellent. I know Edo wasn't too happy with his, but I think he's used to using a lighter setup to carry around.

 

Sorry you haven't sold any images for a while. Might be Covid related. You do have lots of great images (I love the cowboy boots on the first page), but I'm not going to waste time praising! +1 to what others have said about some photos looking a bit dull/underexposed + some compositions that are a bit off + some plants and animals that are the main subject are very very small in the frame.

 

Are you using a tripod to take these studio shots at home? I find it very helpful and as I don't shoot video or wildlife/sports, I have a geared head which is excellent for still life composition. I think that you either need to get shots like these bang on vertical, or use a deliberate diagonal skew for interest, perhaps with a macro lens to focus attention on a certain part of the title with the rest out of focus. It's not a 'found scene', it's obviously composed and it just looks a bit jarring to me with the first image not being taken from centrally above. The second image is also a bit jarring, westeners read left to right and we often prefer to view photos the same way. Here, we're looking at the photo from the right to the left and it looks like the off centre position of the camera was not deliberate because its only just off. They're both underexposed too.

Howl, by Allen Ginsberg, was a book involved in a major legal case about obscenity in 1957.  The book was one of City Lights' best sellers. - Stock Image

Fronts of three books by Allen Ginsberg, including Howl and other Poems and Kaddish and Other Poems published by City Lights. - Stock Image

 

I'm assuming this shot was grabbed in a restaurant hence the grain from high ISO, which is fine. It might be my eyes, or my small screen size, but the whole image looks a bit soft. I couldn't see any part of the food that looks in sharp focus.

Nacatamal opened for eating, with the banana leaf wrapping serving as a plate.  Nacatamales are a classic Nicaraguan Sunday breakfast food. Stock Photo

 

 
 
 
I do like shots like this where you have out of focus foreground elements that draw the viewer's attention through the photograph to the main subject behind. It's a great compositional device that I'm aware I don't use often enough. I'm not sure what the subject is here though, there's a lot going on and my attention isn't drawn to any particular element.
Maranta (Maranta leuconeura) flower spike hidden in foliage Stock Photo
 
You generally do put the country name in the title, but not always. It's something I'm trying to do more myself. I suspect a lot of buyers just hover captions for photos without zooming them, and if the caption is incomplete / missing information they will probably just move straight on.
 
Best of luck,
Stephen
Edited by Steve F
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I have gear for putting the camera on a boom on a C-stand , but those photos of books were taken freehand with two AD 200s pointed at the ceiling in my study (white styrofoam tiles).    I think my idea for the Ginsberg books as a part of a scene with an expresso cup and bongos would have been more interesting, but I don't have bongo drums.  A fake joint in an ashtray might also work. 

 

With the maranta flower, I was trying to get the flower.  It's bloomed twice since I've had it, so I'll have another chance sometime later. 

 

I'm somewhat trying to place the photos, or at least some of the photos, in Central America without necessarily specifying country, but maybe that's not practical. 

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13 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

 

Thank you. 

 

He's a neighbor and wanted me to photograph his finished products.  I have about three other shots of him at the sewing machines,  looking at me.   I find that people will cooperate with my directing them if they get to pose first. 

 

I do want to take more at the Municipal Market. 

 

The stereotypes I find most fun to play with are the gringos here.  Not so sure those sell that well in Gringolandia, though.   Missed getting Drunk Bob on his walker before he died, though.    We are much more characters than most Nicaraguans. 

 

 

 

yeah, gringos are fun....  yeah not sure they sell...    

 

but hey the drunk expats does fit a stereotype, so who knows. Example of bad behaviour/ colonialism does get traction....

    but remember it's not only what you have most fun in the end, it's what the customers want....    they liked people walking in city with "traditional outfits" i gave it to them..

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4 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

I have gear for putting the camera on a boom on a C-stand , but those photos of books were taken freehand with two AD 200s pointed at the ceiling in my study (white styrofoam tiles).    I think my idea for the Ginsberg books as a part of a scene with an expresso cup and bongos would have been more interesting, but I don't have bongo drums.  A fake joint in an ashtray might also work. 

 

With the maranta flower, I was trying to get the flower.  It's bloomed twice since I've had it, so I'll have another chance sometime later. 

 

I'm somewhat trying to place the photos, or at least some of the photos, in Central America without necessarily specifying country, but maybe that's not practical. 

 

The lighting on the books is good, shadowless. I often use natural light so I end up with a shadow along one edge, not sure if that's good or bad! I would just up the exposure when you edit them, using the histogram as Cal says, or just eyeballing it.

 

I thought it was the white flower, it's just very tiny in the shot and it's got a diagonal stem running across obscuring it. Perhaps look at a composition where the out of focus leaves point towards the flower and there's some clear space around it.

 

I am the same, I often don't put UK, which I guess I can partly get away with because it's one of Alamy's main markets. You might be ok with Central America, although I would just put that as a keyword.

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Some smashing pictures.

 

2DABX2T  Botas y Mas is a Nicaraguan store in Jinotega that sells boots and more, most handmade in the back of the sho

2DA4WJE  Furniture maker holds bedsteads made in his shop while surrounded by more lumber to be used on future project

2D8DT0Y A country man in Nicaragua

2CWD4FX  Latin American street boy in front of sewage system rebuilding project

2AB5N7D Men working on adding a second floor to a narrow house in Jinotega

 

The above show a sense of place. I think this is your strength and if you played to it it may repay you.

 

Stay safe.

 

🦔

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, meanderingemu said:

 

 

yeah, gringos are fun....  yeah not sure they sell...    

 

but hey the drunk expats does fit a stereotype, so who knows. Example of bad behaviour/ colonialism does get traction....

    but remember it's not only what you have most fun in the end, it's what the customers want....    they liked people walking in city with "traditional outfits" i gave it to them..

 

Handweaving for home use was destroyed in the 1940s.   I've got one (probably too long distance) of a woman wearing machine mode clothes that look like the ghosts of the old style of clothes.   A gringo who was a historian and here since Somoza said that there was almost zero surviving examples of Nicaraguan backstrap weaving before the revival in El Chile near Matagalpa in the 1980s, and nobody working when I was there was using a backstrap loom, or wearing anything woven even on the floor looms.  The weavers' coop felt haunted by what was lost.  Mexico and Guatemala still have domestic production for the weavers' families, but less and less.   The men don't like being marked as indios and children grow too fast to make weaving their clothes practical.  

 

I've see one woman probably from Guatemala in traditional clothes.   I obviously recognized what she was wearing and she looked back at me as if saying, "yep, I'm wearing what you think I'm wearing.  She was with what looked like a mission group.   An expat friend who used to live in Managua said Guatemalan women in traditional clothes show up around the international bus stations in Managua. 

 

Traditional clothes  now are jeans or pants so tight they look like leggings (saw one riot police woman in black uniform pants that had been selected very carefully to be as tight as possible), topped with a teeshirt whose English they may or may not understand.   One teenager was wearing a "The Future is Female" teeshirt.  I asked her if she knew what the English said, and she said, "Yes." and we did a fist bump,  but no photo.   I really need to just carry the a6000 everywhere.

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20 minutes ago, Steve F said:

The lighting on the books is good, shadowless.

 It took the second AD200 to get that. 

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17 minutes ago, Steve F said:

 

 

I am the same, I often don't put UK, which I guess I can partly get away with because it's one of Alamy's main markets. You might be ok with Central America, although I would just put that as a keyword.

 

 

Problem with using "Central America" is you get plenty of false positive with "America" ie. the USA for many.  So only use it sporadically, in things that play to traditional Central American stereotype.

 

note that i was curious, and had a look, and it showed that "Latin america" is probably worth consideration way more....

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5 minutes ago, Mr Standfast said:

2CWD4FX  Latin American street boy in front of sewage system rebuilding project

 

Occasionally, I run into kids who are real characters.  The deaf kid signing at the camera is another one, cheeky and a ham.   

 

I also rather like the house construction shot because it looks almost like a dance. 

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I don't think that the brown wooden background works well with the Ginsberg books. It's too drab. I've had some luck licensing images of vintage book and record album covers, but I usually crop to the edges -- i.e. have no background at all -- and use natural light and a tripod.

 

Here's an exception -- well worn CA guidebooks where I used a map of the region as a background.

 

selection-of-central-america-travel-guid

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1 hour ago, Steve F said:

 

I'm assuming this shot was grabbed in a restaurant hence the grain from high ISO, which is fine. It might be my eyes, or my small screen size, but the whole image looks a bit soft. I couldn't see any part of the food that looks in sharp focus.

Nacatamal opened for eating, with the banana leaf wrapping serving as a plate.  Nacatamales are a classic Nicaraguan Sunday breakfast food. Stock Photo

 

 

 

The only thing I can add to this is the alamy preview sometimes ruins quality. I've uploaded some images that when live look much softer than they really are, and I see quite a lot posted in the "have you sold" etc threads that look way too soft to have passed QC. It's the preview I'm sure of it. Some images look fine, others look frankly terrible. I console myself with the fact that most "normals" are way less picky than we photographers are.

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49 minutes ago, Cal said:

 

The only thing I can add to this is the alamy preview sometimes ruins quality. I've uploaded some images that when live look much softer than they really are, and I see quite a lot posted in the "have you sold" etc threads that look way too soft to have passed QC. It's the preview I'm sure of it. Some images look fine, others look frankly terrible. I console myself with the fact that most "normals" are way less picky than we photographers are.

That's a good point, it's probably due to the preview 👍

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2 hours ago, Steve F said:

I'm assuming this shot was grabbed in a restaurant hence the grain from high ISO, which is fine. It might be my eyes, or my small screen size, but the whole image looks a bit soft. I couldn't see any part of the food that looks in sharp focus.

 

 Looks like the culprit was 1/20 second shutter speed as well as the ISO with a 4/3rds camera.  Ran it through shake reduction in Photoshop and it's improved, but I think I need to buy another nacatamal and reshoot.   Mheh. 

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1 hour ago, Cal said:

 

The only thing I can add to this is the alamy preview sometimes ruins quality. I've uploaded some images that when live look much softer than they really are, and I see quite a lot posted in the "have you sold" etc threads that look way too soft to have passed QC. It's the preview I'm sure of it. Some images look fine, others look frankly terrible. I console myself with the fact that most "normals" are way less picky than we photographers are.

Nope.   I've just removed both of them the long time way.   I'll send my helper out to find the best nacatamal possible and reshoot.   I think I can do this better with better light and a better lens on an a7. 

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One of the interesting things about this is having confirmation of some of my doubts about my own work from some of you and some validation for things that did work well for others.   Another eight mostly older photos should be added to the database in a day or two (I captioned and tagged them before coming here).   I can look at things from five or six different cameras now and see the strengths and weaknesses (and remember the weight of the Nikon D300) of all of them.   I think I even have a Leica iii f Black Dial scan up along with several Hasselblad scans.

 

I'm grateful to everyone who commented.   And I'd like to thank the Nicaraguan people, and my two full time cats and the one time-sharing cat, and the fish.  And my dog walker who occasionally acts as my photo assistant.

 

I'm 72.  It's a cheap out to imagine that I couldn't still improve. 

 

Thanks again. 

Edited by MizBrown
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Oh, this is the one that creeped my friend out from the New Years photos of the stuffed munecas "old men of the old year" about to be burned, then burning.   Yeah, framing could have been a bit better :)

.KW9P1B.jpg

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15 hours ago, MizBrown said:

I had an uptick in sales after getting the numbers up to close to 900 and haven't had a sale since late June and not many zooms.

 

I've deleted some photos, replaced some with better edited versions.   Any that should be deleted or re-edited.   Any thing missing in captions.  

 

 

 

 

Rebecca,

 

My first response might have appeared to be a bit harsh, if so I do apologize.

 

You asked a question and I will try to answer it more succinctly.  After looking at

several pages of your images and reading what you have written on this forum, I feel

that the stories that you tell are more interesting than the photos that you upload?

I am an old (older than rocks as my teenager says) magazine photographer.  The first

rule that my agents taught me was never tell an editor about, or write in a caption things 

the you don't have in a photograph.  From reading your posts, you talk about having

a relationship with real local people, interesting people, tell their story in images.  I would also suggest 

that you forget about cameras and lenses.  Light is more important to the image then

the camera at your eye. 

 

I was lucky to work with some really good picture editors, magazine and corporate, 

and I have a lot of lighting equipment at my disposal.  On my last location corporate

portrait session, I hauled 400lbs of old NORMAN lighting with me.  The client has worked

with me for more than five years in Boston, MA.

 

In the film days, there was a concern about the amount of film shot on any given subject,

but now with digital and cheap cards it does not really cost any more to make 100 or 500

images.  I often shoot over 400 images of a subject and edit that down to less than 50 selects

which get reduced to 10 or less to finish.  Gene Smith, who Edo talks about often, would "Blast"

through roll after roll of film to get ONE image.

 

Lastly, a lot of your images seem dark and lacking in contrast while your outdoor images are

very bright?  Just from my calibrated monitor.

 

Hope you are well, we have snow on the ground in New England.

 

Chuck

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4 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

From reading your posts, you talk about having

a relationship with real local people, interesting people, tell their story in images. 

 

Don't think you can get much more real and I certainly got a story.

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6 minutes ago, David Pimborough said:

 

 

900 sales you say ~ I've a grand total of 398 sales so I'd say you are doing a lot better than I am.

 

I do like your photos of everyday life in Nicaragua I'd say there's little wrong with what you are doing

I think it was 900 uploads not sales

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8 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

After looking at several pages of your images and reading what you have written on this forum, I feel

that the stories that you tell are more interesting than the photos that you upload?

 

Yeah, I was a writer longer than I've been a photographer.

 

3 hours ago, David Pimborough said:

 

 

900 sales you say ~ I've a grand total of 398 sales so I'd say you are doing a lot better than I am.

 

I do like your photos of everyday life in Nicaragua I'd say there's little wrong with what you are doing

 

 

 

@David PimboroughNope, around 900 photos up.  Fourteen sales since September 2016. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

I would also suggest 

that you forget about cameras and lenses.  Light is more important to the image then

the camera at your eye. 

 

Calibrated the iMac last night and got 100% SRGB, about 93% Adobe RGB.  The colors were showing up brighter in the older calibration, so yeah, I was thinking the colors were brighter than they were.  I can also get better colors on the Windows laptop, as I found out a few days ago, but its best is only 50% of sRGB.   I bought the laptop in case things got bad enough that I had to leave Nicaragua.   It would need either a external monitor or a new display to be a graphics processing machine.

 

I've got a reasonable assortment now of good primes from 18mm to 105mm (the old Nikkor 2.5).   I don't have to have anything else, true.

 

I've been learning how to use the lighting gear I bought, and trying to find the best natural light conditions.   

 

 

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