Photography Critique :: Episode 5

March 15, 2009 | • Critique

This is the first half of a 46 minute critique we did last night. We looked at four photographer’s work and have loosely based this critique on the word “Passion.” A little more than 10% of the emails that are coming in have the word “passion” in them. Passion is awesome! I love me some passion. We all need to find a passion in our life and for many of us reading this blog, we have found it in photography. But… Passion doesn’t mean a thing without some talent attached to it providing you are wanting to turn that passion into created works of art.

For this episode we look at two young photographers named Jennifer and Norton. They most certainly are passionate. It is the talent part of the equation that they need to work on. In the next episode we look at two child/family portrait photographers. One has just started her business and is very passionate about learning and growing. The other is a dang fine photographer but she is in a rut. So the passion is running a little low. Also, in the next episode we see a good way to put the same person in a gallery twice. I’ve gotten emails about that. Sit tight, I talk about that in the next installment.

I expected Meg would be by my side while doing these but not an active participant in them. Ya’ll love her so she’s staying. I love her being a part of this because we get to spend time together doing something fun that helps people, she brings an interesting and “consumer” based viewpoint to the discussion, and she brings a feminine viewpoint to the discussion. I do not let her see the majority of the work that we are critiquing. I want her reaction to be immediate. I on the other hand, go through all of the images before I hit the record button. Be on the lookout for Erik, our studio manager, to jump in on some of these. Those are going to be insane. :)

Many have asked about putting these on YouTube. I am starting to cross post them there. The reason I use for these is because it allows me to scale the embedded video to the width of my blog. I can only get YouTube clips to embed at their native size or full screen. Nothing in between. You can find the episodes on YouTube here. I have episodes 1 through 3 up right now with more coming. Others have asked about making these into a pod cast for iTunes. I’m trying to figure out how to do that and will update you once I figure it out. If you know of an easy way for me to make this happen, lemme know!

Cheers, Zack


  • Jason Grover said on March 15, 2009

    When is your music cd coming out Zack. LOL Great episode!

  • zack said on March 15, 2009

    @Jason – I’m waiting to get on American Idol to get my recording contract. :)


  • Damon said on March 15, 2009

    Zack, hearing your awful-yet-passionate “song” contrasted with your lovely wife’s, I got the point immediately. That’s a great way to kind of break down this whole “passion” thing as it applies to anything really.

  • Chung Nguyen said on March 15, 2009

    Very cool episode. The good thing is, passion can lead us to practice and perfect our skills. And the best thing? Having pros like Zack steer you in the right direction with kindness and candor. Thanks, Zack!

  • Sam Coran said on March 15, 2009

    whoa! video podcasts coming! can’t wait for that!

    Much thanks!

  • debora said on March 15, 2009

    i love you & your wife & your 1/2!

    salt of the earth, tell it like it is, honest-to-goodness people!

    thank you for doing what you do.
    it is much enjoyed and appreciated.

  • Ryan said on March 15, 2009

    My God…


    Keep the critiques coming, leave the music out. Please.

  • Ryan said on March 15, 2009

    edit: Just Zack’s music, of course.

  • Nuno Santos said on March 15, 2009

    That was a great way to convey the difference between simply wanting to be there, and actually working towards being there. Thanks for doing this!

  • lanne said on March 15, 2009

    Well I clapped when you stopped playing 😉 .. Thank you for this series of videos. Awesome stuff to listen to and see it applied to a real set of images. I appreciate your time (and your lovely wife’s time).

  • Lewicka said on March 15, 2009

    Zack, your song wasn’t so bad, but then again after shooting all the gigs I did I probably do not hear anyway :)

    You really make me nervous about music photography, so I cannot wait until you show something you like.

    Do I have to repeat and echo all the other people commenting here: that you rock doing this for all of us out there, or you got that point already? :) Well thanks again.

  • keith said on March 15, 2009

    Hey, mate, since when did Americans say “cheers” to one another? :)

    Before we know where we are, you’ll be learning how to spell, too. :)


  • Jeannie Guzis said on March 15, 2009

    Meg and Zack, you two are so cute together. Zack, don’t ever sing again. ROFL!

  • Phil said on March 15, 2009

    Hi Zack,

    Great critique as always. Just want to let you know I loved your song, but my dog… not so much.

    Congrats on making it howl! lol.

    Take care

  • Casper said on March 15, 2009

    Dear Zack,

    I really like your critique series.

    I do have one little critique myself to this episode. The singing part was hillarious, it sounds like you and Meg are having a blast making these clips.

    In your critique part (don’t take it the wrong way) it just seems like you get a bit distracted – like the guy that looks like someone you know, how you don’t check your facebook, etc. You take your focus off of the photography.

    I feel that I learned more in the previous episodes where there wasn’t as much “chitchat” :-)

    But as I said, please don’t take it the wrong way, I would watch the episodes even if you sang your way through them all 😛


  • Nelson said on March 15, 2009

    Outstanding work, for the 5th time. These days I’m more eager to see your Photography Critique than anything else on the web, it’s just exactly the way I like. Keep up the good job, You and Meg, she’s just your perfect complement for this.


    PS: You do sing better than me! (It’s true)

  • Janine said on March 15, 2009

    I think that my ears are bleeding Zack…lol.
    Seriously though love these so much…please keep them coming.

    P.S Meg…love your work :)

  • David Burridge said on March 15, 2009

    Wow, these just keep getting better. I actually like what someone else called “chitchat”. I must be strange because I even enjoyed your singing, I guess it’s because I heard the passion even though you had some “pitchiness”. Ok, I’m also an Idol addict. I look forward to more of these.

  • Rhonda said on March 15, 2009

    Thank you so much for doing these Zack (& Meg)! They are so helpful.

    Also, please do more image roll-playing like you did with the couple on the dock. :)

  • Meghan said on March 15, 2009

    Ah yes, I thought we had a bit too much
    chitchat, too, but then I realised something:



    I’ll do my best to keep my man on track everyone.

  • Lee Fly said on March 15, 2009

    keep the crits coming. they are great.

  • Kim said on March 15, 2009

    Hey Zack,

    I’m finding this to be really helpful and you haven’t even done my work yet. From what I have learned from your critiques so far, I’ve been working and tweaking my website and pulling off work and adding other pieces etc… Thanks so much for this. This is great.

  • catalina said on March 15, 2009

    THAT’s what i forgot to mention in critique session # 4- Meg!!!!

    She has added a great POV and I like that you mentioned (because I did wonder) that she doesn’t see the images until you are ready to hit record, so we hear her honest, gut opinion. I very much appreciate that.

    I hope you get a chance to critique my work soon. I have some abstract work i think Meg’s gonna like.

    AND i can’t believe you are doing this at 1:30am. WOW. THANK YOU for continuing to do these.

    I get something out of every critique video you create.

  • Allen Ross Thomas said on March 15, 2009

    Zack –

    Though it won’t adjust the quality, obviously, you can adjust the HTML width/height tags in the embed statement on the youtube postings.


  • phil said on March 15, 2009

  • zack said on March 15, 2009

    @Allen – I’ve tried to adjust the HTML tags half a dozen times and it never sticks. The videos always embed at 640x. If anyone knows a workaround let me know.

    @Phil – I have the conversions already to go. I’m just trying to find out how to host a video podcast.


  • nude photography Perth said on March 15, 2009

    Really enjoyed this episode, and it’s the first I’ve seen – so now I’m going to dig through your archives for more, thanks.

  • nick lopez said on March 15, 2009

    Ok. Don’t stop the chit chat.

    I’m married. I have kids. I still love my wife.

    The genuineness of these videos and the interaction that you have with Meg lets me know that being a pro doesn’t mean selling your soul…and does mean i can still go to pot lucks at church.

  • Constantin Chirila said on March 15, 2009

    I’ve been watching these episodes since the beginning and today i had to comment on your “music performance”… I couldn’t stop laughing for like 5 minutes :)))
    You are a natural :))

    Now getting to serious things I really like this critique videos an inspired me a lot. Hope I will send you my website for critiquing as soon as I am unable to critique myself, I mean when I am creating photographs that I really proud off :))

    Zack, keep up the good work. And Meghan, I really like your song 😀

  • Norton Zanini said on March 16, 2009

    Hi Zack,
    I can say I am proud receiving those critiques, the reason why, is that I needed to have some evaluation of my work, my pictures, my compositions, my so seem to be “the proudest” shots by someone from outside other than just friends saying WOW. (Not that I avoid them, not at all, its actually really helpful to keep me motivated).

    Because, as I am learning or… learned so far by my own trial and error, MANY things I don’t notice.

    I admit it hurts a little, but “its more valuable a Painful truth than a beautiful Lie” or whatever is that saying…

    And one thing I was expecting to hear is about the processing, probably the reason my pictures are overly-processed is because I learned photoshop long time before getting in touch with a camera, the result = compensate on Photoshop -.-

    That Opens my eyes, and for so long I’ve been wanting that, And again I really appreciate your time for reading my FULL-CONDENSED-MESSED-AND-NONSTOP writing email (I was a little excited)
    and for the attention given for us.

    I’ll definitely make some adjustments according to the critiques…

    God Bless You

  • olivia said on March 16, 2009

    Hey Norton — I’m really learning a lot from these critique sessions as well, so thank you for contributing your site. It’s great to see your comment here (as others have done as well) talking about accepting feedback and incorporating changes … all around, a really stand-up thing to do. :-)

    Thanks a bunch Zack and Meg. I’m just loving these sessions. And the singing/passion piece was so funny — way to deliver a great message. Thanks again!

  • Matt said on March 16, 2009

    Where can I hear more of your wife’s music. It’s amazing.

  • phil said on March 16, 2009

    It would be best to do it someplace else than on your existing site, unless you have way more bandwidth allotment than you use now.

    Check out this article, it explains it a little and then gives a list of few different choices that are pretty good.

  • zack said on March 16, 2009

    @Matt – She records under Meghan Coffee. You can find her here –

    Check out her latest album, “Songs To Sail By” on iTunes.


  • Christina Montemurro said on March 16, 2009

    The off-topic chit-chat threw me off at first, but I quickly switched to the other corner – and now I think it’s brilliant. If you’re going to keep this up, you need to have some fun with it! (And if there’s a baby in the near future… you will likely value a diversion even more.) So I say, keep it fun for yourselves, and for those watching, allow yourself some entertainment while you learn. :)

  • Aaron Shapiro said on March 16, 2009

    Zack, I was literally laughing out loud at you and your wife’s comments… Love these critiques man… Look forward to every episode. I submitted my website too… just making a shameless plug. :-/


  • Ashley Williamson Belvin said on March 16, 2009

    Zack you should rename this episode “The Zack and Meg Comedy Hour”… HA! Seriously, I can’t get enough of these critiques… LOVE them!! You guys make a great team.

  • Chris said on March 16, 2009

    Great post again, Zack and Meghan but I am most impressed with Norton’s comment in response. Norton, you are a stand up guy for a 19 y/o. Your willingness to learn and grow are amazing for your age. I suspect you will go far in what ever endeavor you pursue. Keep up the great work.

  • Zlatko said on March 17, 2009

    Zack i gotta respectfully disagree with point you were trying to make. For sure passion does not equal talent, but being good in something is in majority of cases not about talent, it’s usually about practice. Talent is that icing on the cake. If I were to look at your early work, I’m sure I’d be far from thrilled. By determination and practice, driven by passion you’ve got your photography to where it is know. I’m also certain your wife didn’t learn how to play the piano by pure talent, it took hours of practice, and by the way that song she sang gave me chills. Can you direct us to her published work? I’d certainly like to hear more. You may conclude that someone doesn’t have great talent, but you can’t really determine how fast can he/she progress. I think transformation could easily surprise you (in some cases).

  • zack said on March 17, 2009

    @Zlatko – You know, Meg and I have talked about this. She is currently reading “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell. he has a part of the book called the 10,000 hour theory. I wanted to quote an entire chapter in this episode but it would have been 45 minutes of me reading.

    This is a good synopsis…

    Meghan has been playing for 10,000 hours! You can find her here…

    You can purchase her music on iTunes. Check out her latest album “Songs To Sail By” That is by far her most personal and best work yet. But I’m biased. :)


  • Steve Glass said on March 17, 2009

    Passion is talent’s cab driver.

    Please don’t critique my website… yet.
    Love what you’re doing! Tremendous service to countless photographers who tune in. Not many people could pull it off but you do without appearing pompous or condescending. In the words of the one hit wonder band Nazarath… “Love Hurts”

  • Doug said on March 20, 2009

    I have to say I lost it when Meghan said “I hope it’s not cocaine”…Awesome!!!! You guys rule all.

  • Carrie Viohl said on March 20, 2009


    Love. :)

    I’m also loving these critiques. Thanks for doing all this extra work, just ’cause.


  • Carrie Viohl said on March 20, 2009

    Oh, also… I’m reading a book by Twyla Tharp, a choreographer in NYC, called “The Creative Habit.”

    She also hammers down in the need for practice, time, and hard work in every successful creative life.

    She’s habituated her creativity, which is a really interesting concept to me.

  • Kate said on March 20, 2009

    I love these critiques! I’m learning so much about things to be aware of in my photos. Thanks for taking the time to do this. :)

    Meghan – I went and bought your CD and it’s beautiful. The quality of your voice reminds me of China Forbes from Pink Martini. Love it!

  • Hunter Harrison said on March 26, 2009

    OMG, when Zack started singing, my dog, asleep behind me, woke and started to freak out.

    A freaked out, 90 lbs doberman can be a scary thing.

  • Jason said on March 27, 2009

    Do y’all ever get any sleep??

    I guess staying up is good training since you have a young one on the way ;=)

  • Dean said on April 11, 2009

    I wish your videos worked on my iPhone. I guess YouTube would be better than nothing.

    Keep up the good work. You’re an inspiration.


  • Photo Sharing said on April 25, 2009

    You have a great blog here and it is Nice to read some well written posts that have some relevancy…keep up the good work 😉

  • Brad Kolodzaike said on May 21, 2010

    Pretty cool that Norton actually got hired as an inter for Chase Jarvis! Got any lottery numbers for me?

  • zack said on May 21, 2010

    I know! It’s so great to see him kicking ass at CJ Inc!

  • Senthil said on June 14, 2010

    Woooaaa.. am getting addicted to your blog and your work. Megan`s music is super awesome tooo. Wonder, if she has a separate blog to listen her music.

    A Big Thank you from Philadelphia, for what you have been doing.

  • Chris M said on July 28, 2010

    thanks for taking the time to make these videos and share them with us. Keep up the good work.

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