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Can you give feedback on my portfolio?


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Hi Angelika,

You look like you live in a very beautiful part of the world. I do have a lot of comments, I hope you take it a positive sense.


1) The commission change is going to drop how much money you're going to make with a small portfolio. But in any case, 278 pictures in 2.5 years is not a prolific output. You'll achieve more success if you add more to your portfolio. Basically, take a lot more (stock worthy) pictures.



2) Your captions are far too short:


St. James Pro-cathedral - Image ID: 2F96WEJ

Protestant cathedral??? Which county, country?


Bialowieża, winter time - Image ID: 2E8P2KE.

You haven't said what's in the picture, e.g, trees, forest, snow... Which county, which country?


Plant - Image ID: WA3F1A

errmmm..... 🙃😉




"Before you start, think about the potential use of the image and what it’s likely to be sold for, the more accurately you describe your image, the more visibility it will have in customer searches, which will significantly increase your chance of making a sale."


2b) spelling generally seems good, but:

View of Alsp near Arosa - Image ID: 2EA3G08



3) Use Latin in captions (and keywords)


Close up of a cosmos plant - Image ID: W9ETFY




"Get your science hat on

Include scientific / Latin names for nature imagery and for wildlife images include the species, order, genus, etc. This is especially important for scientific publications and textbooks."



4) Sunsets and silhouettes.


You need to try to lift the shadows considerably in your sunset shots. Either use software or a physical graduated filter that you fit over your lens (better to use software, physical graduated filters don't work so well when you don't have a flat horizontal split between the land and the sky). Other option is to take a picture of a sunset when it's partially obscured by clouds, or e.g. leaves of a tree so the dynamic range of the picture is not so high.



Sky is underexposed and half the picture is just pure black. Shadows need lifting considerably where the land is. You can get away with this if you have an an interesting silhouette; church silhouette is interesting, but not enough.

St. James Pro-cathedral - Stock Image

Ditto comments on previous picture, except sky is better (but possibly overexposed).

Sunset at Sulwalszczyzna, Podlasie, Poland - Stock Image


You've completely lost the blue in the sky. I assume it's not pollution, needs rescuing with editing software. Land is black again.

View of a sunset at Góra Cisowa (Suwalki Landscape Park, Podlasie, Poland, Europe) - Stock Image

This one works well with the black silhouettes, but I hate the rectangular sign on the right.
Ukiel lake in Olsztyn Stock Photo





5) Converging verticals and wonky horizons


You've got a lot of pictures where the horizon isn't straight - it's very noticeable. Additionally, when you take pictures of tall vertical objects, the lines don't photograph as vertical, but get closer together as they get higher up - converging verticals. The effect is more pronounced the more you point your camera upwards when you take a picture. This is a relatively easy fix with software. Otherwise, you just need to be aware of it and try to reduce the problem as much as possible when you take the picture. If you do use software to correct this, then you need to zoom out slightly when you take the picture because you'll lose some of the space around the picture edge when you make the edit.


Converging verticals and 'leaning backwards'

Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain - Stock Image

Main tower on the left should at least be vertical, looks like one or both towers are leaning left.

Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain - Stock Image


Very noticeable converging verticals.

Madrid Palacio-de-Comunicaciones-Cibeles - Stock Image


Very obvious converging verticals

Wawel castle - Stock Image



Looks like the leaning tower of Pisa....

View from city walls in Segovia, Spain - Stock Image


Very disconcerting because none of the 'vertical' lines are actually vertical.

Warsaw, reflection of block towers in the windows of a modern building - Stock Image

6) There are too many pictures of something that may have caught your eye, but are unlikely to ever sell. You need to try going out and about with a more commercial eye. Look for stock photos online and in books/newspapers and on your smartphone in e.g. online newspapers, they're everywhere. These are the ones that sell. Compare these with the ones that you are producing.
Every time you take a picture for stock, ask yourself what concept you're trying to show. What can you imagine a client using your picture to illustrate?
If you were showing e.g. grapevines with red clover, then you would be illustrating the concept of nitrogen fixation in farming. Or if you showed a beautiful landscape, this would be a good advertisement for Poland and tourism. What do you think a client would use this picture for?

Polish countryside during spring - Stock Image


Very dark, boring, can't see the flats very well.

Winter, Block of flats - Stock Image


A bit arty, but never going to sell for stock.

Yellow autumn leaf on a tree - Stock Image


Very confused and overly busy picture. What is the main subject? Would someone use this to illustrate winter in Poland?

Białowieża in winter - Stock Image
What concept are you trying to illustrate here? Could you not have spelled out a word with the letters?

Letters on the ground. Wyżary, Podlasie, Poland - Stock Image

Too boring

Suwalski Park Krajobrazowy (Suwałki Landscape Park) - Stock Image


What concept are you trying to illustrate here? Also doesn't work very well as an abstract background, there's no symmetry.

Geometric minimalism, pavement step, close up - Stock Image


Too boring - no contrast, sky is plain, colours are plain and muted, no interesting landmarks, no main subject which attracts the viewers attention...

View of a lake at Podlasie, Poland - Stock Image


There's not enough context. If there wasn't a caption, I wouldn't have a clue what this is, apart from ice covered 'something'. Too boring

Frozen pond. Snow and ice background - Stock Image
7) Pictures and people
You'll have to check what the rules are on people being in pictures in Poland. But generally, try to include people / tourists in your images. Pictures with people in, especially where the people are engaged in some kind of activity - sell well.
Great perspective. But lots of empty (boring) foreground, people are missing.

El Escorial, view from the gardens - Stock Image

Someone in the mid picture would really complete this picture. Otherwise, it's too boring. No interesting shadows crossing the footpath.

Narwianski National Park (Narwiański Park Narodowy), Podlasie, Poland,a bridge over swamps, Kładka Waniewo-Śliwno - Stock Image



8. Be aware of potentially infringing copyright if you reproduce works of art with no context around (show space around, maybe someone viewing the painting). You're basically copying someone's painting and selling the copy. I paint pictures - I would be annoyed if someone did that to me!!


Pictures of modern art hanging on a barn - Stock Image


That's a lot to get through! Perhaps try looking at other posts under 'Portfolio Critique'.


Good luck,


Edited by Steve F
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Hi Steve,


thank you a lot for your remarks. As I am rather an amateur photographer so your opinion is valuable for me. I also take it very possitive. It looks like you took some time to analyze my pictures. I appreciate it.


Would you be able to recomend some online tutorials for reworking the pictures (I mean the sunset colors as well as converging verticals and wonky horizons)?


I will also try to work on my captions :) in the following days.






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Hi Angelika,

You're welcome.


Do you have editing software? The tutorials would depend on the software that you're using. And are you able to watch videos in English?


Many of us use editing software. It's not an absolute must, but it is very advantageous, because it lets you do many things like sorting out your white balance, straightening out horizons and sorting out sunsets, and it will also fix things like converging verticals. I think a majority use software from Adobe - primarily Lightroom or Photoshop. Lightroom is relatively easy to use compared to Photoshop. The problem is, is that Adobe charges a monthly subscription fee. It's not much, but if you're not making money with your photography, it might not be worth it for you. There is software available that charges a one off fee, but you'd have to Google that, I only have experience with Lightroom. There's also free software like GIMP, which is very powerful, but not used so much. Most how-to videos on YouTube will be for Lightroom and Photoshop.


In terms of lighting and composition, and how to do sunsets etc. I am somewhat old school. You could look all this up online, but I devoured a bunch of books, and in particular, photography magazines when I started out. I would recommend having a look at photography magazines if you can, there's useful advice in them, from beginner to higher levels.



Edited by Steve F
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Other recommendation. Every time you see a published stock photo, see what concept it's illustrating. You'll get a better idea about the market if you see what sells. I keep a library on my smartphone of stock photos that I've seen published (and I like) and use it for inspiration.

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  • 2 months later...

Posted recently, still believe it:


Some like that borderline HDR look

that makes viewers wonder,

"is it HDR or is it real

it looks real, yet..."

try this if you dare:

in ACR or similar:

a. exposure slider add +1 to those too dark

b. contrast slider to +60
c. highlights slider to -80

d. shadows slider to +80

e. texture slider to +40

f. vibrance slider to +40

g. saturation slider to 0


some don't want viewers thinking

"its a flash photo"

so they use fill flash with a light touch

some don't want viewers thinking

"its an HDR photo"

so they use sliders with a light touch

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