Customer Reviews: Captured by the Light: The Essential Guide to Creating Extraordinary Wedding Photography
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on February 17, 2010
I've scoured for wedding photography books that encompass the perfect blend of inspiration, technique and overall workflow. And finally, this book arrives. The layout is excellent, with logical chapter breaks, informative call-out boxes, and full sections devoted to natural light, on camera ETTL flash, off camera flash, ceremony workflow, reception workflow, and a few more. Also, some books are pretty dated as far as equipment, but the author refreshingly describes using his Canon 5D Mark II AND 7D. That might not seem like a big deal at first, but in many places he talks about leveraging the amazing high-ISO capabilities of cameras like this with your other settings. For example, in the off camera flash sections, he talks about the use of these high ISO settings to cut flash power by half, thus conserving battery life. There's not a lot in here about pricing/contracts, but that's not what I was looking for. If you know what you want to charge, but want to take your wedding photography to the next level, this is the book. Buy it.
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on March 13, 2010
I don't normally buy wedding photography books, but after flipping through this one I couldn't resist getting it. The author, a former engineer, gives very specific advice on how to get certain looks, defines his terms, and shows example pictures both using and not using his techniques, very helpful.

I liked the simple description of "loop" lighting and why it is desirable for this type of photography. The composition chapters, which very specifically list things to look for to set up a good shot, are also excellent. The author's advice on how to work with assistants to dynamically position off-camera lights to add depth and separation is also great, although unfortunately this technique requires at least one full-time assistant, so don't expect to duplicate the author's work going solo.

Some minor nitpicks: I thought the advice for making a snoot out of a rolled-up magazine was silly, it looks unprofessional and there are many inexpensive, sleek-looking snoots on the market that don't risk damaging the flash unit or present a fire hazard. Also, the author repeatedly uses the word "perspective" when I believe he means "cropping" or "framing" as on page 25 when he says he stays in one place while zooming to change perspective. Additionally, I thought his equipment recommendations were strange since they involve low-end zooms that change aperture based on zoom settings, I would think this would interfere with the manual flash control the author uses.

The book doesn't focus on gear but be warned the author uses Canon equipment so don't expect any Nikon CLS tips or anything but passing references to other brands. Surprisingly the author uses relatively inexpensive gear and recommends even cheaper gear to save money, which is fine I guess but considering that the author routinely shoots all-day events with two assistants, I would think the assistants' salaries are going to dwarf any equipment expense and this topic is not really touched on.

Curiously missing from this book is any specific information of how the photos are post-processed in programs like Photoshop. Clearly some of the shots are retouched and the author occasionally refers to Photoshop, but there is no chapter on what his post-processing workflow is.

Anyway, this is an excellent book filled with beautiful photos and real-world advice from someone who has done the work. Highly recommended.
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on February 22, 2010
I have been a professional photographer specializing in weddings for over 30 years and have NEVER read any book with such intense information! Check for yourself: search the other "instructional" books listed on Amazon, Borders or any bookstore and you'll come to the same conclusion as me- there is nothing that even comes close to Mr. Ziser's "how to" approach. We as photographers, enjoy delving into a beautiful image and explore the impact and composition, but rarely are provided the insight in order to obtain those outstanding results. David's approach comes across to the reader as if he is in front of the class giving a seminar. The book is written in a very easy to understand and conversational language that any aspiring photographer to the most advanced can comprehend.

So often, many books written by photographers illustrate specific points, but rarely do the accompanied images reflect such depth and dimension as Mr. Ziser's. The quality of the photographs almost "jump off the page" and the cool thing is, he explains the technique to achieve it! There are many "starving" photographers out there, wondering why they can't make a good living at their craft. By its very nature, once the photography improves, they can raise their prices with confidence. What David teaches in his book will make one's images stand out! He opens the door to unbelievable lighting techniques that include everything from nature's light to creativity with a simple "flashlight."

After just reading a few pages, the reader will start to view wedding photography as truly an art. The information revealed in "Captured By the Light", along with the beautiful photographs will never be out of date. The lessons in this book are timeless; because the most basic areas of photography that are discussed explore the simple rules of photography as an art. Some of these topics include: exposure, lighting, composition, choice of equipment and camera lens, etc. and they are covered in rich detail. I think this book will soon become the "bible" in photography from the advanced amateur to the seasoned professional photographer. I also would like to commend publishers on the outstanding quality of the book.

This publication is surely: "The essential guide to creating EXTRAORDINARY wedding photography!" The cost of this book is very reasonable, but what one takes from it- education, is priceless!
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on June 7, 2013
I have been shooting weddings for a long time. I always feel like I could learn something new and love reading books related to this type of work. This book is one of the few books that I have found very helpful on the topic. The book is well written and starts out on the basics of lighting.

It covers what kind of lighting to use during your portrait shoots and how to achieve flattering lighting including:
-Exposure techniques and how to get it right without using a light meter.
-Using options such as bounce flash vs umbrellas and all the points between.
-Creative lighting methods including backlighting your subjects.
-Natural lighting without a flash.

-Rule of quadrants and thirds
-Horizon Lines
-Repeat elements and framing a scene.

The author covers what kind of equipment he uses including why he uses a 17-85 4-5.6 (canon) lens and even non f2.8 premium glass. This is an important section because while he is using good gear, he is not trying to tell you to buy premium gear. In fact he recommends a lot of common sense glass that is within reach of even a starving artist. The idea here is that he is not trying to shove 2.8 glass down your throat and tell you that is what you "must have". He has great sample of work using a 7D (not that it is a point and shoot) and some basic f4 or 5.6 glass. He covers why he would rather use the high iso of the new cameras and stick to 5.6 when he can. You also learn about why he uses a wide lens at times and the proper way to do it. You learn about his lighting kit which is quantum flash and monolights at times mixed with on camera direct flash or bounce flash.

Next you follow the photographer from start to finish on a full day shoot to learn some great planning methods and how to capture the images along the way. We are talking a large portion of the book dedicated to the full day from start to finish.

So for the beginner: This book will teach you what you will need to do the job. Why you need it and techniques to get you going. It will not teach you about marketing or anything legal. It will teach you methods that are absolutely vital to doing the job right.

For the working existing pro's: This book is a great read and may give you some ideas to refresh why you are doing this job to start with and will maybe help get you excited again and give you some ideas. I found this book to be helpful and a joy to read.

A side note: This was mentioned before in another review I read about this book, the book has a lot of good samples and almost all the images shown are with the help of an assistant. I agree with this. It is not to say that you cant do the task if you work alone, but it will just mean more stress and some missed shots. It is not to say you cant do it but it is just not realistic to be able to capture everything on the day when you cant be in two places at once. I feel the majority of the lighting can be done using speedlights and lights on stands but you cant haul around monolights and be in two places at the same time. You will need to read the book and work with your bride to prioritize what you need to capture and where you need to be on the wedding day. I understand that not every photographer has an assistant or 2-3 assistants (as written in this book in some places) but that should not stop you from doing a good job. It means traveling with less gear and using it correctly and also working with your bride to get a timeline that can provide them with the photos they want. Most brides know what they are paying for and it is your job to educate them on what you can and cant do for a specific budget they have.

In the end I feel this book is great and a good read. I would buy the paperback version as I imagine the E book version would be hard to follow because of all the images. This book was written in a way that I feel the author is not holding back info or trying to show how great he is but rather in a way that is simple and clean. It can improve you as a photographer or teach you some new ways of thinking. Great job to the writer and happy shooting guys/gals.
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on March 14, 2011
I bought this book to learn more about photographing people, event photography and lastly (by a good margin), wedding photography. The book spends most of its time discussing lighting, which was a major reason that I bought it, as well as composition, posing, and many other practical aspects of photography. You do not need to be interested in shooting weddings (which are where all the example images in the book are from) to find much of value here - as I inferred before, I have little expectation of becoming a wedding photographer.

I gave this book five stars and IMHO it fully deserves it. It is well illustrated and has easy to understand text which explains concepts well and coordinates well with the illustrations. I highly recommend this book for newbie or intermediate wedding photographers as well as those who shoot portraits and/or events.

Now that I've given this book a well deserved five-star recommendation I will nitpick a little;

On page 19 the author discusses histograms and while the points that the author makes about histograms are generally correct, I don't think he explains them well. When an image is under-exposed the histogram may be "shifted" to the left but it will not necessarily "hit the x-axis" except possibly on the right hand side of the histogram since few pixels in the image are probably bright. He says that the histogram "will go to zero (hit the x-axis) before it hits the right-hand y-axis" - awkward and not necessarily correct. I think there might be a less awkward way of saying this (how about; In an underexposed image most pixels tend to be not as bright as they should have been and therefore the histogram will appear to shift leftward with the histogram showing few if any pixels registering as having the brightest values - okay, I'm not the greatest wordsmith). Fortunately the author has good illustrations and images of histograms here.

The book says that it was "Produced by Kelbymedia Group Inc". I've noticed that there are generally two types of instructional photographic technique books. One type explains concepts in running texts and hopefully has appropriate images and captions to go with the running text to give good examples of what is being explained. The other major style is to organize all the text into a step one to X cookbook style. Hopefully there there are also ample images and captions to help explain these steps. The author has some explanatory running text but seems to force too much text into the cookbook style. This style seems typical of Scott Kelby produced materials and while this style can be quite effective I got the impression that too much of the text in this book was forced into that organization (and that it did not always benefit from that).

The author praises the high ISO performance of modern DSLR cameras on, what feels like, practically every page. I think most people will get the point if it is mentioned no more than ten times. :-)

Lastly, and this may be my pet peeve, the author uses the term "nodal point" on pages 136-137 to refer to where two lines intersect (as in the compositional technique known as the "rule of thirds"). Considering that the term nodal point has a number of very specific meanings in photography I would suggest simply saying something like "where two lines intersect" or "intersection #4 in figure #3" and not use a term that is generally used to refer to something else (i.e. in lens design).

All in all, even with my few nitpicks, I highly recommend this book to those interested in portrait, event and/or wedding photography.
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on March 29, 2010
This book covers systematically all topics in wedding/portrait photography. This book is an inspiration source, a repetition of techniques, or truly an essential guide. You may need to be an intermediate photographer to get the most out of the book - know your gear and lightning/photography theories. However, it isn't just simple to buy this book and become a wedding photographer. Most off-camera-flash setups in the book are based on an assistant that can move the light source around. Light stand can help, but can not replace the flexibility of a person, especially when time is limited during a wedding. This book constantly remains me about "situation awareness": looking for backgrounds, compositions, geometry, lens choice, lightning/ambient, planning ahead - do it right first time and save lots of time in post-processing. Overall I am very happy to have this book. Highly recommended. Thank you David Ziser.
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on June 18, 2014
Having done three weddings as a second photographer, I got my first solo assignment and wanted to do a first rate job. Looking for a guide to help me prepare, this book looked like the one I needed to do it right. What I learned from this book enabled me to focus on the essentials for the big day from what lenses were most important to what lighting equipment and how to use it for maximum effect. The basic challenges I faced were a large wedding party (seven each maids and men), large families and special requests for family portraits, a very large attendance, and a less than glamourous space in which to photograph it all. And of course, a very lengthy and hectic schedule, running from before 8:00 am until almost 11:00 that night. Although I had the fast glass, David encouraged me to be more practical and use my F4 lenses with image stabilization. Next, he encouraged me to use more power than on camera strobes would provide and to rely upon off camera, bare bulb, battery powered flash heads (the one I used was very similar to the Quantum TD5R David uses) shooting through an umbrella. I also used a large parabolic white shoot through for the group photos. In all, David's careful tutoring on what angles to shoot, how to master and rely upon manual mode camera settings and lighting power enabled me to achieve a very successful shoot, pleasing not only the bride, but both mother and mother in law! I don't suppose you can ask for more. If you are prepared to go beyond the basic equipment list and camera settings writeup, David Ziser has a whole lot to offer here on establishing a winning strategy for your wedding assignment. He taught me the fundamentals I needed to give me confidence and also enabled me to go beyond the lesson and experiment on my own. A serious study of this book will let you put to work much of the skills that David acquired over many years of experience. I recommend this book as one that you will look at many times. My lessons learned were invaluable and I still marvel at the results. Its chock full of tips and expert advice on how to plan and shoot your next wedding. My favorite points were what lenses to use for best effects, what lighting to use and how to use it, such as capturing the wedding dress and bridesmaid's gowns, and how to shoot the glamor and fashion formals, including how to get some texture into very dark menswear. For the price of this book, I easily saved a substantial amount over what workshops and travel might have cost to gain this knowledge. My hat is off to David for a wonderful report of his best tips and techniques.
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on May 17, 2011
I'm not even finished with this book yet but have more than gotten my money's worth. I am a semi-professional portrait photographer but NOT a wedding photographer; however I bought this book for tips that I could utilize in all my sessions. This book does not disappoint. You can see for yourself from the table of contents all the information the book covers. Many books that cover many topics don't effectively communicate valuable information when taking this approach but IMO you can take some information away from each and every topic...complete with relevant photos to help bring the concept home. This is not a book to get a bunch of ideas on posing (though there are some) but rather helps you learn concepts of lighting and composition so that you can go into an environment and create your own image (and isn't that what is really needed anyway since we aren't photographing at his locations???).

To get the most out of this book you should have basic knowledge of aperture, shutter speed, etc. (i.e. know how to work your camera on Manual). If you have never worked with OCF you will want to familiarize yourself with this before delving into the parts on lighting. I know this is a book I will refer to many times since it is difficult to get all the information with one read.

Like most of you I want to purchase books that I'm going to get more than 2 or 3 good ideas from...the rating on this book speaks for itself.
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on February 12, 2015
Photography was once my hobby, it’s now a full pledged side hustle. I am the go to person for my friends who need photo shoots. I recently dipped my feet in the wedding World and I am loving the thrill so far. I had always heard that wedding photography is a niche on its own and I learnt this first hand. Although the pics from the wedding came out just fine I knew I needed wedding photography knowledge. After much research I stumbled upon this book. I can confidently say that this is one of the best guide to taking extraordinary wedding photos. Mr. David Ziser really knows his thing. I was a bit hesitant on buying the book as $39.38 is a bit too pricey. But looking back, this is one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. I have learnt of the must have images that a photographer should capture and how to cope with the fast paced wedding ceremony and also how to make these images beautiful. He is a truth speaker and he has a way of telling things as they are. He will let you in on what shots wedding couples love. The writing style that David uses is very methodical and the steps are very easy to follow. Once you are done reading the book, it’s very easy to use the tricks suggested. I have to confess that I now feel like a pro. Confidence is essential in everything and am glad that the next time am shooting a wedding I will surprise everyone including myself! I give this book an A. Look no further because this is the book to read. Oh, I almost forgot. David also shares the contents of his photography arsenal. You will get to know the camera lenses he prefers and why, how he sets his camera and when to use or not use flash. He also doesn’t assume that you know the meaning of technical terms. He will mention a technical term and then describe it. In addition, there is a design of a wedding album that David shares with the readers. I reckon he does this to help us ignite our own creativity! Each page is informative and you can tell that David has not used any filler words in any of the pages. You will get to learn something new by each page turn. I love this book and should David decide to come up with a second edition, I will be among the first to buy.
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on May 27, 2012
This is a nice book that will help you photograph a wedding. If you've never taken wedding photos this book will be very handy. The author sometimes goes overboard with using extra equipment and assistants, which not everyone has access to. However the book is filled with examples and useful information. Totally worth the money that I paid for it.
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