Critique the Community Episode 16: Swimwear Photography with Joey Wright

For the last several weeks, the Fstoppers team has been working with Joey Wright in Curaçao filming a new original tutorial on swimwear photography. While we were filming, we used some of our time with Joey to offer feedback to a variety of images submitted by the Fstoppers community. We chose 20 images to critique. Check out our selections below and add your thoughts and ratings to the comments below. Joey Wright is one of the most sought after swimwear photographers in Miami, Florida. Fstoppers has had the pleasure of working with him in the Bahamas, and now is excited to partner with him for our upcoming tutorial on Swimwear photography. Make sure to check out some of Joey's work and sign up for details about the upcoming tutorial HERE
























The Fstoppers Community Rating System

If you have an Fstoppers account, you are able to create your own profile and portfolio directly within the Fstoppers Community. Once you have a portfolio uploaded, you can browse images in the community and rate the photos of your peers. Even though art is usually a fairly subjective matter, we wanted to create a rating system that was as objective and unbiased as possible. This way if one of your images has been rated 50 times and has received an average rating of 2 stars, you could feel confident that maybe that particular image is not up to par. Below is a simple chart explaining the Fstoppers Community Rating System.

1 Star - The Snapshot

1 Star ratings are limited to snapshots only. Snapshots are usually taken to document a time or location but little to no thought has gone into the creation of the image. If an image has been "lit" with external light (besides a direct on camera flash) it is at least a 2 star picture. The majority of 1 star images have had no postproduction work done to them but do often have an "Instagram style" filter added to them. The average person these days snaps 1 star images every single day with their smartphones. Most 1 star images that pop up on sites like ours are images of flowers, pets, landscapes, sunsets, objects around a house, etc. If you read Fstoppers, you should not be sharing 1 star images for any reason.

2 Stars - Needs Work

All images, besides maybe 5 star images, always have room for improvement but 2 star images "need work" before they should be included in your portfolio. As photographers we are snapping thousands of images per year but only a few of those images should ever be shared or put into our portfolio. A photographer who has taken a 2 star image has put some thought into the composition, exposure, and postproduction but for some reason has missed the mark. A 2 star image should not be in the portfolio of a full-time professional photographer, and amateur photographers should strive for something better. Even complete amateurs who don't understand photography at all are capable of taking 2 star images from time to time.

3 Stars - Solid

A 3 star image is an all around good image. The photographer has a solid understanding of the basics: composition, color, focus, subject matter, and postproduction. A 3 star image is "good" but it's not great. Most part-time professional photographers have mostly 3 star images in their portfolios. Usually a level 3 image would have been rated 4 stars if it had been shot in a better location, or with a better model showing a better expressions, or there was better postproduction. A photographer capable of taking a 3 star image is capable of taking 4 and 5 star images if they would simply pay more attention to the details. 

4 Stars - Excellent

4 star images are fantastic. In most cases, 4 star images have a certain style to them that links them directly to their creator. A 4 star image usually requires planning and attention to extreme detail. It's almost impossible to shoot a 4 star image by getting lucky. 4 star images have almost flawless conception, composition, lighting, subject matter, and postproduction. If you have any 4 star images in your portfolio you should be very proud of yourself.

5 Stars - World Class

5 star images are flawless and unforgettable. The amount of time, energy, and talent that goes into the average 5 star image is staggering. In many cases these pictures require a team to produce including a professional retoucher. The concept, lighting, subject, location, and postproduction on these images has to be perfect. In some cases the jump from 4 to 5 stars may be as simple as changing the unknown model in the picture with a celebrity or bringing in a set designer or stylist to make the image slightly better. Although there are always exceptions, most 5 star images take days, if not weeks or months to produce.

Strengthening Your Own Portfolio

Even with our objective rating system, people are going to disagree with what they like because ultimately art is still a matter of opinion. However, we believe once an image has been rated over 25 times it will have a rating that is pretty fair and honest (we hope to deter trolls by giving negative Karma points when a vote is more than 1 star away from the community average). If one of your images in your own portfolio is rated lower than what you personally feel it should be rated, we would urge you to try to look at the image from an unbiased angle. Step back, erase your memory of the photoshoot itself, and try to imagine an art buyer, stock agency, potential client, or local gallery as they decided if they wanted to invest in your services. Would your image make the cut?


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Michael H's picture

17 is a pretty great fine art picture

Devon Budd's picture

Thanks Michael

Rudy Hari's picture

Thank you Fstoppers , so happy to see my artwork on cover..

Sebastien Boyer's picture

Thank you for including my image ( number 8 ) in this Critique the Community.

It made it through my selection process for the shoot because, at the time, I liked the spontaneous vibe - a moment within a moment - it had. Hence the "snap" feel. I didn't think it was my stronger "swimwear" image when I uploaded it, maybe that's why I wanted to know others opinions on it.

I'm interested into swimwear photography, but my style would be more of a "lifestyle swimwear" type of photography. I would love to hear some other insights, on how I could develop that style, and if it is actually something out there on the commercial market. It would be more about selling the lifestyle of the brand, than its products. Here's my portfolio

On that specific shot, I understand it is compositionally poor ( too centered, cut head etc... ) and thanks for the critique.

1 star man

Dean Reid's picture

I know critics are subjective and I get that. I appreciate for selecting my photo (#18) to be reviewed. I agree with statement regarding the subjects facial express; however, as far as the shadows I really like the look. My portfolio is located at

Again thanks!

Al Koenig's picture

I was waiting, with great interest, for this video to be posted and happily it delivered. The critiques were objective, fair, and a great learning opportunity. I also checked out Joey's work/site and it's nice to hear opinions from someone who already demonstrates uber skill themselves. Please consider doing this again in 6 months or so!

Eric Snyder's picture

Looks great!

Jason Brietstein's picture

Awesome, thanks for reviewing my photo. The critique is spot on. Really learned from it.

The color of skin tone is off because of the wrong export settings, which I have since gotten a better understanding of.

It was shot around 10am and there were better shots in the set.

I'm actually going to delete something out of the portfolio and upload a new one.

Devon Budd's picture

Thanks for the critique guys! My image #17 was actually shot in an alley way outside and not in a studio. But I can see why it looks like a studio shot not much there to say otherwise.
I really liked the point about my models hand, that is something that I need to work on.