Expert Critique: Street Photography by Graham Simpson

By Samuel Ogunlaja

By Graham Simpson. "I asked the male dressed as female at 2019 Cuba Dupa if i could take a photograph." Lower Cuba Street. Canon D80

Initial Thoughts

This is a very beautiful and interesting photograph. The first reason is because it's a man dressed and posed as a woman. That naturally calls for attention but one could easily note that the photographer choose the subject because of the interesting costume, makeup, jewelry and the dress in general.

Another interesting thing is the use of bright and warm colours in the subject and subtly in the background which helps to accentuate the mood of the photo, it being fun, playful and lively; synonymous with arts festivals and street carnivals.

The picture is well exposed with an obvious contrast that makes all the details clear, especially the face makeup and the costume. You can tell there was a fill light coming directly from the front which helps to expose all associating details with the subject – that is excellently done!

Nevertheless, this photograph could have been better shot if the photographer had been more mindful to include a few more details…

Details in Framing

Very obvious from this photo is the fact that it's a male dressed and posed like a woman which drew the photographer’s attention in the first place. However, this important detail isn’t well defined as the photographer has cut off the lower half of the body. The inclusion of the entire posture and body would have intensified the narrative.

Details in Background

The background of this picture shows that lots of activities was going on simultaneously, which is good. We can see someone in green (mid right) taking photos of some people but that is something that could happen on a normal day, which makes the background less complementing when it’s actually important.

Since this photo was shot at Cuba Dupa, it would have been better if the activities going on in the background were closely related or similar to what the subject is doing. These extra details would have further added to the festive mood and explained more about the model’s outfit. For example, a person dressed in a carnival costume in the background could be a specific element to include


Generally, this picture is great and technically balanced with perfect exposure and an efficient use of light and colour. However the photographer can work to improve their photography by sticking to narratives and finding the best way to do it.

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