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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 21, 2006
Many years ago I was a budding photographer with no formal training, never really interested in photographing people. Yet people were always getting in the way of most of my shots. Many years later, I discovered that people can add interest to my images by adding scale, a sense of place, or adding to the image's story. Today I enjoy sports photography and I look for ways to include people when composing an image. As a serious hobby photographer with no formal training, this book helped me get more creative when photographing people.

Beyond Portraiture is a straight forward book explaining the many aspects of creative people photography. The book is broken down into five main sections. UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE explains a bit of psychology, approaching people, and how to get people to agree to be photographed. WORKING WITH PEOPLE discusses the types of people you should "cast" for your intended images, and how to maintain a comfortable and respectful relationship of varying types of people you may want to photograph. LIGHT details differing types of light and how they affect your images. COMPOSING POWERFUL PORTRAITS offers basic composition rules, backgrounds, movement, camera settings and lens options. PHOTO-EDITING TECHNIQUES is a series of lessons in Photoshop to help perfect your images.

It is assumed the reader already has a solid grasp on exposure. If this is not the case, read Brian Peterson's Understanding Exposure prior to reading this book. There are short sections discussing shutter speed and aperture, but they are not in-depth enough to form the solid foundation of exposure settings every serious photographer should have. Brian refers to these settings, as he should, in most of the topics.

If you shoot in fully automatic mode, you will get something out of this book, but may lack the ability to duplicate the results except by luck. Chances are a camera in fully automatic mode will determine a correct exposure; however the camera can be fooled into setting an incorrect exposure. Plus there is more than one "correct exposure" setting for a scene, but which setting creatively results in the image you want?

While the technical details that I have read in this book are commonly known among serious hobbyist, it is Brian Peterson's perspective and experiences that make this book worth reading. His simple writing style is conducive to learning and interesting, opening my eyes to even more possibilities. Even though I look for ways to include people in my pictures, this book will take me to the next level.

If you have mastered the subject, this book is not for you. However, if you are a beginner with an aversion to photographing people, or are not satisfied with your portraits and candid shots get this easy to understand book. If you have a general understanding but have room for improvement, this book will help fill in the missing pieces.

PROS
Straight forward easy to understand book
Full of valuable information
Includes mention of film and digital cameras where applicable.
Full of inspiring images

CONS
With the discussion of the importance of model releases, a template should have been included.
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on October 28, 2006
First off, let me advise Bryan Peterson fans that "Beyond Portraiture" is not a totally new book, but a revision of his 1993 book "People in Focus" with some digital photos, hints and a Photoshop chapter added. A lot of the text is word-for-word from "People in Focus", complete with gramatical errors and typos that have not been changed. Many of the pictures are the same. So, if you already own "People in Focus" and you're shooting film, or you are into digital but already have a good knowledge of your photo editing system, you may be greatly disappointed to find you are reading a lot of he same text and seeing a lot of the same pictures. In fact, I think many of his photos in the earlier book are better than a lot of those he's replaced them with.

That said, I'd highly recommend this book to people who are interested in improving their people photography outside the studio. The strong point to this book - as it was in "People in Focus" - remains the section on how to approach people at home and abroard and get them to let you take their photograph; and in overcoming one's own shyness about interacting with potential photo subjects. And, Peterson's writing is always entertaining.
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on September 9, 2006
Bryan Peterson's best books are the ones that allow photographers (beginning and professional) to confront their fears in becoming better photographers. This is, hands down, one of his best. A great distillation of his years of experience as a top working photographer, teacher, instructor and writer.

If his seminal book 'Understanding Exposure' clearly and conscisely breaks down the process of setting exposure in a non-theoretical way, 'Beyond Portraiture' breaks down the process of dealing with PEOPLE in real and practical terms. From showing how to ask people to take their pictures, to the psychology of putting people at ease, co-operating with you, getting them to sign model releases, working with models etc etc, this book defuses the fears keeping us from taking more pictures of people.

Once he helps you to overcome those fears that prevent us from taking the pictures we really want to take, he then tells you how to *enjoy* the process of going out and taking people's pictures because you CAN.
Also included are sections on optimising your images, stock photography and travel photography, also well worth the price of the book.

Unlike most, he does not dwell on the minutae of equipment and technique, even though he discusses these things also, which is welcome.

He is the epitome of a good teacher. He allows you to discover what is in you and brings you to understanding. And by allowing you to face what is stopping you from taking the pictures you want, he helps you to become the photographer you want to be.

After 'Understanding Exposure' (which should be read before going through this book), 'Beyond Portraiture: Creative People Photography' is probably one of the best photography books ever written.

Highly recomended.
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VINE VOICEon October 23, 2006
Just one look at the hearty smiling face on the cover tells you that this will not be your ordinary book on portrait photography. And it's not. Instead of the usual discussion of technique, Peterson concentrates on what makes a good subject for a photograph.

The author starts out by considering the psychology of both the photographer and the photographed. He then talks about many of the other things in the frame, like backgrounds and clothing, which set the tone of the picture. He briefly discusses the nature of light, with emphasis on its directional qualities. Peterson also presents some rather traditional concepts of composition, but with emphasis on portraiture. Information on technique is sprinkled throughout this section. He finishes up by discussing particular photo-editing techniques applicable to portraiture.

Peterson seems bent on inspiring us to examine the faces of the people we photograph, to reveal something of their character. This is a hard task, especially since many faces can be so deceiving. Peterson's photographs of people fill the pages and are probably as useful as any of the text in telling us what to look for when we engage people with our cameras.

A major shortcoming of Peterson's book is that it contains nothing about the use of artificial light. Advice on the use of reflectors is as close as he comes. There is nothing about flash units or other lighting set-ups. And when I think back on the great portraits, they all used intricate lighting schemes in an attempt to define their subject. This book seems more aimed at providing good looking faces for the travel photographer, which is not a bad thing, but may not create great art (unless of course you are Steve McCurry.)

I am coming to believe that the best way to become a good portrait photographer is to study the work of the great portrait photographers like Karsh or Penn or Avedon or Liebovitz.

On the other hand, this volume will provide you with some help in getting some nice pictures of people's faces.
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on October 14, 2012
First, something about me to put the review in perspective. I am a serious amateur photographer and a photography student. I understand the technicalities of f-stops, shutter speed, ISO and White balance quite well. Thus my expectations from a book are not the same as someone who's just casually interested in Photography. Lastly, I'm also a big fan of Bryan Peterson; I've read almost every book he published and am currently taking classes at his online school.

Enough said about me, now about the book. Having read his "Understanding Exposure" and "Learning to See Creatively", I absolutely admired the author's ability to explain a complex concept in simple words along with the aid of compelling photographs. Not in this book! I do not know if it's because I purchased a Kindle edition (images were smaller ?) or because portrait photography is not my primary interest, I did not find the book as gripping as I expected from the author. The concepts presented in the book were neither different from the other books I mentioned above nor were they particular to portrait photography. Without giving away the details, all I can say is concepts like "filling the frame", "vertical composition" or "lighting" are generic and not specific to portraiture.

I am the kind of person who doesn't put down a book if it's interesting or is from his favorite author. In this case, the later was true. However, I felt that the book is unnecessarily drawn out. Whatever the author wanted to achieve by authoring this book could also have been achieved in much fewer words only if he stuck to the primary subject of the book, portraiture. This book could easily be titled "Beyond Portraiture... and Some More Stuff From My Other Books". I must admit though that I enjoyed reading some interesting anecdotes the author shared from his long photographic career.

All in all, if you have read the 2 books by the same author that I mentioned in the start, look elsewhere.
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on May 14, 2007
Lately there are many many books about photography, which pretend to teach you something, instead going through same stuff over and over again, showing mediocre work.

This book, while isnt revolutionary, scores huge points, not just by way how author approaches us, but also by good photos inside.

Its not just "do it like i do". He is going through whole process of shooting, from ideas on how to approach people (with hints for shy folkz) to hints on post processing.

Hats off to you, mr. Peterson, and thanks for good reading.
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on January 15, 2007
If you're interested in learning new or different ways of achieving your goals with photography or if you're interested in learning some new photography tricks then this is the author for you. I purchased the "Understanding Exposure" book first and thought that it was so enjoyable that I then bought this book as a gift.

Bryan Peterson writes in a style that is easy to follow and truly fun to read. I found myself carrying the "Understanding Exposure" book with me everywhere I went because I was enjoying the book so much. It was almost like reading a mystery novel - I couldn't wait to find out how he set up his shots and exposures to come up with truly inspiring photos. I try to 'shy away' from taking photos of people and felt that I could learn something about this subject from Peterson. He truly inspires you to want to try his techniques.

I recommend this author for anyone interested in photography - amateur or professional.
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on June 9, 2013
This reviewer's main criticism of this book is that it does not provide as much in-depth advice as it should regarding the many portraiture techniques (i.e., lighting, angles, etc.) covered. Each section should have been expanded a few pages. This is primarily due to the fact that the book is only 160 pages in length but also due to the fact that the author spends too much time on subjects such as hot to get model releases.

Nevertheless, the book does provide many useful hints and advise relating to portraiture techniques. Subjects such as lighting, shadows, angles, flash, etc. are covered and much of this advice is especially useful to those just starting out in portraiture photography or seeking useful hints or advice in this field. This applies to photographers who are over and above the beginner level as well. But, as stated previously, this advice should have been a little more in-depth.
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on September 5, 2015
Peterson does it again! I'm a dedicated, yet still learning amateur, and Peterson's books always stretch the imagination with what is possible. I started with "Understanding Exposure", followed by "Composition", then read this book (Portraiture). I have found all to be excellent. I still go back and reference/reread them, as it takes a while for so much information to sink in. I'll still be learning, and find returning to these books helps me each step of the way.
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on February 9, 2013
If you are familiar with any of Bryan Peterson's books and you liked them, you're not going to be disappointed with this one. Bryan shares tips in his usual charismatic way. In Beyond Portraiture, he shows other portrait opportunities that do not require studio settings. He provides both technical and artistic ideas and tips, which is the reason why I prefer most of his books over other photographers's work who cannot or would not get out of the conventional. With this book, you will learn technique, as well as creative thinking. Highly recommended it for those who are getting started and more advanced photographers. Professionals and well-established photographers may not find it as enlightening as those who are first starting. However, if you're going through a dry spell, it might help you get out of it.
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