Need Critique/Honest Feedback/Suggestions for Improvement
My niece is having her first baby. Her husband is currently deployed to the Middle East. She asked me to do a composite for her that blends her deployed husband into a maternity photo of her. She even gave me an example to go by. I will be the first to admit that my photoshop skills are extremely limited, so without even looking this task seems over my head. But...I love my niece so I resolved to try my best.
I took some maternity photos of my niece, then emailed a couple of examples to her husband so he could see what he needed to try to match. He got someone to do pictures for him, but the first attempt just didn't work. His hands were way too high, plus he was holding them directly over his knee. That made it hard to blend him in naturally. The second attempt had better (but still not great) hand placement. At least he was leaning out beyond his knees, but the second set was taken in full harsh sun, so not the best quality but it's what I had to work with.
I know it is frowned upon to post a photo that isn't mine, but I really want you to see the example and the images I worked with. I cannot find a link to the example I had and I have permission to share the photo of my niece's husband. I will delete them if it is unacceptable to show them here.
Here's a link to a similar pic from the example my niece sent me:
Here's the actual example she gave me (again, I will delete it if it is unacceptable to show here):
As you can see, both of these photos are really just cut each image and paste them together.
Here is the photo that I took of my niece:
Here's the photo of her husband:
I first tried to blend the photos like the examples that I found. Frankly, I hated the result and my niece wasn't enamored with it either. I guess neither of us liked that 'choppy' look of just cutting one pic and attaching to the other.
Here's that first attempt:
So...after some discussion back and forth (and a Photoshop lesson from a friend/mentor), I tried again. We decided to use the husband's image for the sky and the space between the couple and to use my niece's image for everything behind her and the foreground around their feet. This is the result:
I would really love some feedback/critique and maybe some suggestions of what I could have done better. I don't really like that the horizons don't line up, but I tried to even that out some by erasing the trees and all. Neither my niece nor I liked that result either. So...while we both think it is a sweet concept, we aren't sure that we really nailed what she wanted.
Thanks in advance.
Hi Sherry, I'm surprised more people haven't chimed in. Very cool project. Your first attempt is very much like the sample photo you used for inspiration. The artist used a hard transition to show the separate worlds in which they currently exist, and the extended hand on the baby which connects them. I think you accomplished this in your first attempt. In the second attempt, you have softened that transition between their environments so that the mom is half-in and half out of his world. However, I still think it gets the message across and looks a whole lot better. You could easily move the horizon down in the mom's world to match the dad's world, but then the mom might appear huge looming over the horizon. I'd try it and see if you like it that way. Or just go with the first one if you want to be consistent with the sample photo and be done with it. Not sure if that helps or not and I think it would still be awesome either way.
Link to my Smugmug site
Thanks for commenting kdog. I appreciate your time very much.
I did try evening the horizons and it didn't look good at all. We printed the version I posted here. My niece (and her husband) love it, so I guess I delivered on that end. We displayed that print at the baby shower yesterday. It received dozens of compliments, so I think my reservations may stem from me just looking at it too long and being overly critical. A couple of people even mentioned that I should make this my 'niche' and market it to all the military couples where I live (which is near one of the largest military bases in the country). Hmmm, this was too much work and I'm not sure I want to do this all the time, but I am glad to have it done and know my niece and both families loved it. That's enough, right?
Although your second version is a more impressive showcase of Photoshop skills, I think the first version is more powerful as there is a clear dividing line between the two worlds. It brings attention to the fact of the matter - they are separated physically but joined emotionally. The first version nails the concept for me. The 2nd version almost looks like you are trying too hard or like you are trying to create a fantasy world where they can actually visit each other. It's too much for me. I think you could make a little business out of this and the first version would be easy to produce in quantity.
An "accurate" reproduction of a scene and a good photograph are often two different things.
Thank you, Jack. TBH, I am not a fan of either version. I like the concept of the first one where there is a clear dividing line, but I think it is a bit too harsh of a divider for me. I would at least like to get similar skies and horizon, I think. Maybe. Something that clearly shows two worlds, but does line up a little better. Hard to do when you cannot control what happens with half the image. The second version like you said is a bit too make-believe for me. That's probably why I am not enamored with it. The important part of all this is that my niece (and her husband) did not like the first version at all, but they absolutely LOVE the second one. They printed a large one and have it hanging in their baby's room. They were the ones I was trying to please. So even though "I" am not happy with the result, they were and I guess that's what really matters.
Still, I value your feedback. I think you expressed what I was feeling when I couldn't figure out why I was feeling that way. Awesome. Thank you.