First time on a (constructive) criticism, so I will exercise caution with what I say.
Most of what I am going to talk about deals with composition. And composition is a really subjective and personal matter, so if you like what you’re doing and you are fond of it, just keep going. But as you’re asking for advice, here we are…
The first rule of composition is that composition rules are meant to be ignored, but sadly that only truly applies when you fully understand and master them.
I personally don’t shoot people, but rules still apply. The first comment is about people, indeed: when you look openly at somebody, instinctively you will scan his/her face and will look at his/her eyes (even if you do that really really quickly and don’t even realize about that fact). And the eyes are so powerful that most probably you will wish to look at whatever that person is looking at:
With some cropping and some help of RT crop tool guide type aid, you will end up looking at those books, mostly just because the two men are looking there. I have also get rid of the too distracting text of the left side bag.
As already said, there should be anything really interesting to justify looking at that man’s back. It may be the backpack, but to me that’s not strong or interesting enough. What I always end up looking at is the map. Why? Because that’s what he’s looking at.
Now, with this tighter crop I think you draw attention to the real focus point of the shot. The rest of the people are meaningless the way they’ve been captured, and the green traffic light is too distracting. You can still see he’s on the street, and he stands out of the blurred background.
In your 7th picture…, well, you really have missed half the picture:
- the woman with the child: you really leave her out of the shot, or let her completely in, but don’t crop her as that’s annoying (or a mistake) if she’s part of the story
- what is he looking at? It’s a strong look. The reason for it is so strong that he has turned his head to look at it. Why aren’t we allowed to see it too?
- and he is even looking at something outside the picture, so we want to look outside the picture, and that means leaving it
The only situation I’ve seen when somebody looking outside a picture doesn’t encourage you to leave the picture is when the subject has a blank stare (or as we say here: looking at nowhere).
Another composition technique is to allow the subject to breathe inside the picture itself. That means that whatever the subject is doing, it should be inside the picture:
When there’s a movement in a picture, it’s better that the movement flows inside the picture, or that the subject moves towards the center of the picture. If the subject is near the exit side, the feeling is that you have arrived late, or that it’s better to leave the image.
Here I have also cropped the shot to remove uninteresting or distracting parts that doesn’t add anything (like the tree stump, the bin, the electric wire, or empty water). The main idea is: what is the true focal point of the picture? The runner. So let’s get rid of anything that steals focus on the runner.
Here is a small problem with unfocused areas:
- if the main subject is the building, make sure it’s absolutely straight in post: as the roof doesn’t give a good result, I’ve straighten the columns
- if everything has the same importance in the image, everything should be in focus
- if there’s one part important, and the rest is secondary, the important part should be in focus, and the rest should be completely, undoubtedly on purpose out of focus. If it’s just a bit out of focus, the viewer tends to see it as a mistake. But that means your lens has a big enough aperture. If not, you may need to play with different perspectives, like shooting closer to the unfocused person, while focusing at the building.
And my last comment: in the couple shot, I’ve cropped a bit the image to remove some unnecessary parts that doesn’t add anything, and I have straightened the white roofs (maybe I’m too sensitive to straight lines ).