What Would A Judge Say?

Today's post was inspired by a question posted on my local camera club forum. The image below was shot by Diane Arbus and limited edition prints are currently up for auction in the neighbourhood of $100,000.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek the question was asked - what would a UK club photography judge have to say about this image? 

I decided to go one further and see if I corrected the "flaws", does it improve the image?

Here's the base image

Here are the "faults" that a judge might pick up -

  1. Distracting highlights around the edge of the frame
  2. Black-clothed people at the edge of the frame
  3. Person growing out of young boy's head
  4. Tree growing out of young boy's shoulder
  5. Not enough space in the frame along the bottom edge (toes too close to edge)
  6. Branches at top right
  7. Leaves & trash on the pavement

Into Photoshop we go! Here's a 5 minute blitz-job -

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original vs the "fixed" version with some contrast, sharpening and vignette tweaks.

The question is... Has it improved it? By following the photography judge textbook to the letter, have we actually created a better photograph or does the original have a quality that makes minor "faults" irrelevant.

Very keen to hear what you have to say, leave me a note in the comments!