I submitted my photography essay "Where We Are Today" to a well known page which holds contests to different themes and types of photography. I added mine to the portrait series.
Here is part of the review. See below the new editing, and I am going to add the "older" photographs next to the review points, which are concerned with them. Please note, that not the whole review is stated below, just the points I think different about, or at least do not fully agree to 100%.
Thank you for sharing this important project with us.
Respectful visual representation of strong female role models with diverse cultural backgrounds is so rare and it is so nice to see it here, in your series. You are also giving a nice presentation of the accomplishments of these women which is helping to spread their life-affirming stories. Great job. Really nice feature story. Well researched and you make us wonder how far and wide you traveled to make this project. A nice trick to not disclose circumstances like this - makes us wonder and keeps us looking longer. Always good to ask more questions than you give answers.
Keeping a similar look and style (set design and lighting) works to further this and ties the project together conceptually and focuses solely on what these women 'look like', no help from a contextualizing environment. Another effective trick to spark viewer participation and investment as we start to wonder where they might work and live etc.
Some specific points. The stool is weirdly specific. Takes a lot of attention. Wide angle distorts the bodies of many these women in a not so flattering way. This is very pronounced in 5, 6 and 8. Having gone with a longer lens would have remedied this. Also, cutting feet and legs creates an unpleasant tension. Doing it as in 9 is acceptable but cutting the foot as in 2, 6 and 8 is problematic. In 5, the tip of the toe is also annoyingly close to the frame edge. You will find that, in many cases, keeping more of an eye on frame edges will make it easier to compose the rest of the picture also."
Does it? And why? I wanted to give the women I photographed a maximal flexibility in movement, to sit on the stool in what ever kind of posture they wanted to. Is this really a focus point to criticize?
Find below the new edited version, any comments on the changes I made? Unfortunately I did not have all of the photographs to make them look similar, but I see the criticism about the legs and toes that I cut. The essay is also in the "project" section, but if you click on each image the slider goes through all of them, as the new version.