(This is another post that comes from my invitation to all of you to send me two of your pictures to get my thoughts on them. Send two photos at 544 pixels/72 dpi to me at: tekamah at me dot com Explain something about yourself, the photos and what you'd like for me to address about them. And feel free to send me a print.)
San Francisco based freelance photographer Laura Morton sends two pictures she made from an early morning Day of the Dead procession in Oaxaca, Mexico.
And she writes: “I like both the photos, but they're from the same situation and I'm not sure if I had to choose one which I like better. I love the chaos of the first image and the scared child running away in the right side of the frame, but I wonder if the second photo isn't perhaps more storytelling because of the contrast between the man dressed as a devil and the curious onlookers? As the photographer I know they were taken within a few minutes of each other, but maybe they're different enough that they're not repetitive?”
Here are the pictures:
Given a choice between the two, I’d go with the first image. It’s really powerful, successful. Your composition perfectly captures the contrasting feelings of energy and fear. It’s an image you can spend a lot time with, and not just because there are a lot of people. There is a bit of luck the way the light falls the same way on several faces on the left side of the frame, the two faces together in center bottom are like the happy/sad theater mask and they connect with the mask at the top of the frame visually in a subtle way. The three bottles in hands in the photo connect to each other in a lovely triangle. And on and on back to the way the arch in the back provides an escape for the eye and reflects the shape of all the heads.
All five elements of light, color, composition, moment and distance from subject work harmoniously.
I’d love to have a print of the first photo on my wall.
There’s nothing wrong with the second image either; it just doesn’t have the dimension of the other. I wonder if by storytelling you mean that the caption would be better on the second photo? Storytelling for some word folks is a euphemism for I can write a better word story to go with one photo, over another.
It's worth noting that the composition of the two photos is essentially the same but the feeling from the image is dramatically different. That's neither good nor bad, just worth mentioning.
As to whether both could be in your portfolio. Absolutely. People generally think that there are either single photos or groups of many photos in their portfolio. That’s bunk. Pairings, or three images of the same subject or unrelated images, that combine well offer great power to convey who you are as a photographer in a portfolio setting.
Laura is the third San Francisco based photographer I’ve worked with lately – Alison Yin and Lianne Milton are the other two. I helped them with portfolio and project editing. All three are talented.