I entered the 2017 edition of LensCulture’s Portrait Awards, and submitted six pictures I took in India and Ivory Coast, last year. Each year, a group of photography experts are selecting the best portraits from all over the world. The 2017 jury members were Susan White (Vanity Fair), Philip Prodger (National Portrait Gallery), photographer Todd Hido, Jennifer Pastore (The Wall Street Journal Magazine), Whitney Johnson (National Geographic), Fiona Rogers (Magnum Photos), Genevieve Fussell (The New Yorker) and Jim Casper (LensCulture).
Although my pictures didn't make it to the final round, I received some interesting feedback on my submission, which I think is really helpful for any aspiring photographer like me - so I shared the full review below. If you have any thoughts on my pictures as well, do let me know!
Joost, you have submitted a dynamic group of single images for the review. I can see through your work and biography that you are very committed to developing your vision and photographic language. It is wonderful to see how photography inspired you to explore the world around you and engage with different communities. It is very helpful to the work that you included short caption information to support each image. Your audience may appreciate learning just a little more about each scene and the captions add depth to the story.
Let's discuss your photographs. Image #5, highlights your strength in using color and composition to hold your viewer's attention. The subjects in the foreground act as a strong visual device in contrast to patterned textile on the ground. I wonder if you could have eliminated some of the additional brighter information on the right side of the frame? Regardless, this image is by far your most sophisticated photograph. Your use of the repeating lines through the carpet worked very well. In image #6, the closer focal length invited me to look longer and engage with your subject. I was moved by the intensity of the eye contact and expression from your young subject. Image #1 is striking in your use of light but I find myself wanting to move past this image. The frame feels less formally aware when compared to your strongest images. There did not seem to be enough engagement from the main subject which led me to move past this image more quickly In image #3, you captured movement and the woman's gaze was very important to the success of this image. It was the sharpest aspect of the shot and felt just right. The energy and movement captured in image #2 was exciting but this frame was also very well organized visually.
There is very strong travel photography that I am sure you have seen featured in publications like National Geographic. I would also encourage you to articulate and identify elements that specific photographers are doing in these features. Oftentimes, travel photographers will be hired for a specific style, whether it be their use of color and framing or something entirely different.
You have a lot of strengths in your work, specifically, attention to light, color and expression which combine to make some dynamic portraits. I think you have done a fine job at articulating your voice in the form of environmental portraiture. Your submission begins to introduce your voice as a photographer interested in people and travel. I would encourage you to reflect on what allows your favorite photographers to differentiate themselves from the many types of images that we see. Two photographers, that come to mind that have completed unique work abroad are Steve McCurry and Raghubir Singh? I think you would find their work inspiring.
Thank you for sharing your photography and best of luck with your work. Please see the additional resources that I included below to help support your goals.