by M&MComment by KaDi:
Greetings from the Critique Club!
A fine image of a beautiful woman...not quite hang-on-the-wall portrait quality though.
Several of your commenters mentioned the distracting background and I agree. There's just too much information behind your subject to prevent my attention from wantering. I think it would be possible to correct that with some post-process editing by choosing one of the neutral colors (the off-white, perhaps) and filling the background with it.
The lighting does appear a bit flat. It appears you may have used the on-camera flash. This would help illuminate the face but because of its straight on orientation it also flattens out the shadows that help shape the face's features. The pinpoint of light in the center of the pupils also bothers me. I think it draws the wrong kind of attention to the eyes. Using an off-camera flash (just something on a flash bracket) would help avoid these objections. Alternatively, you could keep the flash off and pose your subject near a light source positioned behind your right or left shoulders (off to one side, slightly).
The range of tones, the exposure, the color...all natural and pleasing. The expression on the subject's face seems half-way between emotions, however. I feel that exceptional portraits do more than record the features of a subject, the give us an idea of the person's state of mind, mood, or personality.
Overall, a good study. Keep shooting!