Critique :: Episode 02

March 11, 2009 | • Critique

I got a little ambitious last night and thought I could get four sites done but I could not do that in less than 40 minutes so I split the episode. Today we have John and Luke. Tomorrow we will have Molly and Dave. So when you see this episode just sort of end abruptly that is why. Also note that I’m taking your feedback to heart and trying to integrate your critique of my critique into my critique. Wow. Mouth. Full.

ETA – I make a comment in this critique comparing something to Chase Jarvis. What does Chase have to say about the topic mentioned? Read his old blog post here about this topic. Here is an excerpt from it…

We’ve all had it happen, professionals, amateurs, beginning photogs alike. You think you have a great idea…gonna go shoot this cool new concept…then whammo. You see it done by somebody else. You can have more respect for it done well and less for it done poorly, but it’s the idea that counts. And “they” beat you to it.

Know what I say about that stuff? Get used to it.

FWIW, (and if it makes anybody out there feel any better – god knows I need to hear “same here” from some of you…), this happens to me all the time. All my little scribbles and journal notes and lists of ideas, gone poof in an instant.

While we are on the subject of photography and looking at our work I found an interesting video that I suggest you take a look at. Blog reader Kevin Derose sent me his video site for critique. Something a little different than photo critique. I am not going to go into a video critique of the video work that he and his brother do but I do think their site is noteworthy. Especially for the interview with photographer Jerome Liebling. Head over to One Match Films and watch the fifth film titled “Jerome Liebling – Seeing Real Things.” It is a fantastic interview. Nice work Kevin and Jeff.

If you are a working pro photographer or an aspiring pro photographer and you would like to be added to the ever growing list of work to be critiqued then email me your site, flickr page, or blog and I’ll put you on the list. Email it to critique @ zacKarias [dot] com. Notice the “K” in my name. Not an H. :)

Based on initial feedback, I will be making this a regular feature on the blog.

Cheers, Zack


  • David Burridge said on March 11, 2009

    Fantastic news! Hope that means you will eventually get to mine. Thanks again for doing this.

  • Matt S. said on March 11, 2009

    Haven’t watched yet, but I can’t wait. 2 in 2 days. Awesome.

  • zack said on March 11, 2009

    I’m going to knock out as many as I can this week and then it will be a weekly or bi-weekly feature.


  • joseph tutlo said on March 11, 2009

    pee in a cup and drop a crucifix in it…


  • Damon said on March 11, 2009

    I was wondering when you were going to finally crack and correct people on the spelling of your name 😉

  • Gary Chartier said on March 11, 2009

    Thanks so much for what you do for our industry.


  • Tasra Dawson said on March 11, 2009

    Wow! Loved that video with Jerome Liebling. Very inspiring person, philosophy and photos. Makes me want to get out and shoot my neighborhood and the people in it!

    Your critiques are fantastic. Strongly agree with a comment on the last critique that this type of feedback is invaluable. Even if it’s not of my work, everything you share is easily transferrable and I feel like I’m learning so much.

    Thank you for taking the time out of your day and life to give back to avid and aspiring photographers. You ROCK!


  • Joshua said on March 11, 2009

    I’m loving these critiques! The honesty is refreshing. After watching the first two episodes I go back to my own site and can actually hear your voice in my head. In addition to the great aesthetic and technical feedback, it has really helped (already) to get me more focused on which images to show and how to present them. Can’t wait to see more. Thanks!

  • Tyler Colson said on March 11, 2009


    Thank you so much for these critiques. I already know what i need to do with my work to improve.


  • Tim Linden said on March 11, 2009

    Nice critiques. Making me think about my own work more, and my own site.

  • Tyler Colson said on March 11, 2009

    Oh and by the way, I am an idiot and there is no excuse for my Name Spelling Abilities. As well as, Proof Reading Abilities. Two spiritual gifts that I don’t possess.

  • Christian James said on March 11, 2009

    Exceptional job with these critiques Zack! My only suggestion would be to post links to the featured websites.

  • CS said on March 11, 2009

    Why not publish the URLs of the reviews?

  • luke said on March 11, 2009

    Zack, thanks very much indeed for your profound critique! It’s extremely helpful to hear a pro’s input for selecting and editing my shots.

  • Stephen said on March 11, 2009


    I watched your first critique yesterday with my wife (the actress and budding critic). After recently launching my new site via livebooks (big step for my career I hope) I found your comments to be invaluable. Even though you were commenting on work that was not mine I could see how they could translate into helping my work. I think I have figured out a few things I need to do to my work now and then maybe I will submit my link for a future review.

    Thanks man, you’re a god send!


  • NML said on March 11, 2009

    @joseph – that’s actually an award winning photo from an award winning photographer…not a joke. Look up Andres Serrano.

  • joseph tutlo said on March 11, 2009

    @NML -thanks, i think. i was unaware of that particular image. i had heard of the feces series. but never took a gander. after all, i see that like twice a day. sometimes 3 when i’m on a raisin bran kick.

    ah… art… or… fart…. we should get a heat sensitive camera and do a fart series!!! who’s with me!?!?

  • Terrence Randell said on March 11, 2009

    More great stuff Zack (with a K people). I really like Meghan commenting from the non-photographer artist’s perspective. The Zack/Meghan combo has some power to it when it comes to art photography.

    For the people asking for URLs, Google is only a few key strokes away. Try it. You’ll like it.

  • Dave said on March 11, 2009

    Fantastic idea, Zack. I’m really loving these critiques.

    Additionally, for those asking for Zack to publish the url’s of the sites he’s critiquing, he already mentioned that he wasn’t going to do it, so that potential clients wouldn’t get linked to this site by mistake and see a critique of the photographer they’re looking at. Much kudos to Zack for thinking of that.

  • Dean said on March 11, 2009

    When I first looked at your DVD’s I thought they were a little pricy. But since I have seen the stuff you’re putting out here for free, I don’t mind paying the price for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I want you to stay viable so you can continue to give this one-of-a-kind instruction / inspiration. (Before the comments start, I appreciate Strobist and others it’s just my opinion.) Secondly, if this blog is any indication of your talents as a teacher or maybe more precisely cyber-mentor, I can’t wait to get my hands on those DVD’s. You may not be curing cancer, but is seems your doing what you’ve been put here for.

    God’s Continued Blessings,

  • Felix said on March 11, 2009

    pee with a crucifix… might offend church goers.

  • KC said on March 11, 2009

    Top notch, I love these reviews. Here is the swimmer shot you thought you had probably seen, and probably did in PDN 30 last year.

  • Heather said on March 11, 2009

    Zack, I’m totally enjoying these videos…thanks so much for putting this out there. Tons of valuable information that I’m hoping I can implement into my own work/website.

  • Andy Quadra said on March 11, 2009

    Zack- these are getting better and better. Fantastic job on #2. The one thing I walked away with was that I need to start working on my post production, no questions. Thank you for doing this.

  • Nicolas said on March 11, 2009

    Yeahhh ! From Switzerland 😉
    Again that’s very interesting. I like the post production work of Luke. I’ll check his blog.

  • Nicolas said on March 11, 2009

    And I just discovered that Luke is from Switzerland too :-)

  • Sarah Hendsbee said on March 11, 2009

    Woo hoo! I am so glad this is going to be a regular thing on your blog now, I can only hope someday my website will appear in your video critique!

    Thanks for all you do!

  • luke said on March 11, 2009

    Hey Nicolas, Sweden or Switzerland, isn’t that all the same…? 😉 Love your photos!

  • Eileen Davis said on March 11, 2009

    I like the follow up with a commentary from your side kick. Ha! ha! on the pee, bucket and crucifix = art (Dada anyone?). Anyway, thanks for sharing your talent with us!

  • Pixations said on March 11, 2009

    Great video, I really enjoy these episodes 😀

    Keep them coming!

  • Aaron Pelly said on March 11, 2009


    This series is fantastic – thank you! You may already be leaning this direction, but if you can’t make a critique in under five minutes, I’d rather hear you give the critique you feel you need to give, rather than limiting the time. I don’t mind if you push the next critique to the next episode!

  • melissa said on March 11, 2009

    thanks so much for these critiques. As you are going over the work of othersit is helping me to take a closer more critical look at my own thus making me a better photographer (hopefully :)
    Thanks and God Bless!

  • Rich C said on March 11, 2009

    Just finished watching two episodes in a row! Fantastic. I’ve got a list of notes for myself now! :) As always, thanks for sharing with us.

    Thanks to all the folks who had you critique their sites as well!

  • DiAnna Paulk said on March 11, 2009

    I cannot tell you how helpful your first two critiques have been! I can’t wait for more!! Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  • Ben Jamieson said on March 11, 2009

    Well, I got half way through the first one, stopped it and trashed a bunch of the photos on my site.

    I’m nowhere near the calibre of some of the folks you’re looking at here, but the critiques are just fantastic and helpful to anyone I think.

    Wonderful stuff, Mr Arias

  • Frederik said on March 11, 2009

    awesome and very interesting to hear your thoughts on some of the images. I can’t wait to hear your opinion on my work.

  • Stephen said on March 11, 2009

    For Felix;

    Pee with a crucifix…

    This is by an artist called Andres Serrano and the piece is called “Piss Christ”. I actually wrote my dissertation about this very artist and his “religious” subjects.

    Very controversial but a very interesting artist.

    I believe the piece was actually attacked and vandalized when it was on view at a gallery in Australia.

  • Chris Whitcomb said on March 11, 2009


    “same here” all the damn time!

  • Eli said on March 11, 2009

    Dude your blog became my favorite “prime time” show… awesome!!!

  • M.Kruter said on March 11, 2009

    Wow! Luke already removed the tree from that running shot and made the white posts wood.

  • Catalina said on March 11, 2009

    just as i watched last night your first critique, this second critique gave me more things to think about as i re-do my website.

    my graphic designer/rising art director husband watched this second video and kept nodding “yes” to several things you were saying – ie – you (photographer) must be your own editor, and chuckled at me when you were editing the runner shot with more contrast…I’m learning to work my images more, and contrast (or more than i give them) is something I’m learning to improve upon.

    can’t wait for the 3rd installation!!!


  • Craig Ferguson said on March 11, 2009

    Another great critique. I’m enjoying this new series so far.

  • Matthew Saville said on March 11, 2009

    You know, Zack, your generous offer of critique brings to my attention the fact that if I decided to ask for a critique, I wouldn’t even be ready for it right now- my website is still a work-in-progress; it has been for 4+ years… I also put off the major decision of how to separate my different work, since weddings and portraits are my work and landscape photography is my hobby / true passion. So just in case anyone else out there is reading these blog comments, let myself be an example- GET STUFF DONE! It is amazing that I continue to succced professionally, with so many things being a work-in-progress; permanently on hold…

    Take care,

  • zack said on March 11, 2009

    @Matthew – I’m right there with you! My sites are never ever ever up to date or truly “finished”. I’m about to completely revamp them. I should be done with that in a few years. :)


  • Jason said on March 11, 2009

    Thank you so much for doing this, Zack. I think it is great that you have offered the time to do this for the photographic community. I have already made many notes for my own site, just based on watching your critique of others. Can’t wait for episode 3! -J.

  • Zac said on March 11, 2009

    i was a graphic art major and there wasn’t anything that i hated/loved more than “crit”! my instructors were all working professionals and they just gave it to you, the good things were good and the bad things were…bad!

    you learned about yourself and your own work, but you also learned from others’ endeavors. and no matter how good you thought you were, there was always someone better.

    zack, thanks for your honest opinions and a forum for others to be educated, they say the best instructors always learn from their students.

    ha! just found you on twitter!

  • galaxy said on March 14, 2009

    when you first started, how long till you became pro competent at acquiring all your flash knowledge?

    did you mainly read, and apply your knowledge? taking notes? what was your reg. workflow like? if you got tips to help those just starting.

    other sites you like, could recommend? strobist? kelby? other bookmarks?

  • J.W. Ramp said on March 14, 2009

    Thanks for the comment about Ecclesiastes – was just reading that the other day – very powerful book!

  • JACKIE said on October 14, 2009


    “pee in a cup and drop a crucifix in it…”

    Very harsh….

    Anyway, do you thing John he could sell this to some or whatever??

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