Photo Review - The Waitress by Anne Dowson



"This waitress was the star. She commanded the sidewalk and stood out amongst all the tourists."

Reviewer's Thoughts

What this photo has going for it is the beautiful ambience, the perfect light, the colours and the interesting character.

Before going into the metadata (details about the photo) I could tell that it’s a phone camera photo. This doesn’t have to be an immediate deal-breaker in street photography as I have seen some amazing photos taken with phones and the way technology is improving by the day, I believe we will be seeing more and more top class documentary and street photos made with phones.

However, my feeling is that this particular photo does not have enough of a point or message to make it a strong street photo.

Yes, the waitress is dominating the scene, but it's just not a strong enough moment. Even though many street photos seem to be made in a moment’s time without much effort, the vast majority of good street photos are made deliberately, are very thought through and set up. Sometimes the perfect moment is awaited by the photographer for hours.

Additionally, it may seem that the rules of photography do not apply in street photography, but they do, possibly even more so than in any other kind of photography. This is why street photography is one of the hardest to learn, teach and comprehend. It takes talent and incredible ability to anticipate the movement and situations in frame to master this kind of photography. Timing is key, as well as positioning and composition.

In your photo the position you were in to take the photo could have been improved. It seems like you were sitting at your table when you took the photo. If you had gotten up and moved more to the right you would have been able to avoid all of the unnecessary objects (chairs, tables, and items on the table) which are in front of the main subject, and take away attention from her.


Unnecessary objects that take our attention away from the main subject

Spend time looking for the best position and thinking about all the factors in the frame, and how they would move, react, even react to the person taking the photo before looking for the best possible frame for the shot.

In my opinion, street photography works best in landscape (horizontal) mode. This is the way we perceive the world, with a horizontal field of view, and this is what documentary and street photography usually tries to emulate – a real life situation with possibly something unusual or interesting happening in it.

Capturing this same scene from a better position and framing it in a horizontal frame, would have made for a much better photo, I believe. For me, even just cropping the original photo, to make it a horizontal one, already makes it better:


This way, we see much more of the waitress and her commanding expression, which is the main focus of the photo. We don’t lose any of the street vibe, but we cut away the distracting elements at the bottom of the photo.

I hope this review will help you achieve better street photography results, which is why we are all here – to learn more about photography and to up our game.

In conclusion, a street photo requires time and thought - Most things that look effortless, are actually a product of a lot of work, experience and knowledge.

This is a great photograph if we are only considering photos made in a moment with a phone camera. However, to truly tell a story, and to have a good street photo in the context of professional or artistic photography, there are many improvements that can be done.

#streetphotography #photocritique #photoreview

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