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Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People [Paperback]

Rick Sammon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2008 059651574X 978-0596515744 1

In this beautifully illustrated book, travel and adventure photographer Rick Sammon introduces the proven techniques he uses to make extraordinary photographs of people around the world. You'll find important tips and strategies for engaging your subject and setting up the shoot, along with techniques for shooting in a variety of conditions both indoors and outdoors.

Rick Sammon is people person who loves the art of making -- rather than simply taking -- people pictures. In Face to Face, he makes learning people photography a quick and enjoyable experience. Rick demonstrates his methods through a collection of his original photographs. Each photo includes notes explaining the principles he followed and the techniques he used.

Face to Face offers hundreds of tips you can you for studio shoots and "environmental" people pictures, including:

  • Outdoor techniques for shooting in low light, shooting in bright light, for capturing action, taking profiles, taking group shots, and more
  • Indoor techniques for using a flash and strobes, and for shooting silhouettes, working with mirrors, and other techniques
  • Photo philosophies and creative advice, such as developing a sense of place, carefully choosing the background, seeing pictures within a picture, and more
  • How to photograph people in different cultures, along with fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of photos in the book

The largest section of the book, "Photo Philosophies", lays out several principles for making people pictures. Rick stresses that the camera looks both ways -- in other words, the attitude and energy you bring to a shoot will be reflected in a subject's face. If you're enthusiastic, you'll capture a picture that portrays enthusiasm. If you're impatient or distracted, that will be reflected as well.

Getting subjects to accept him in a matter of seconds is his prime goal as a people photographer -- after that, he says, taking pictures is much easier. Even if you're not a world traveler, Rick's tips and techniques will have you taking top-notch people pictures wherever you are.

Rick Sammon gives more than a dozen workshops and presentations each year, holds online classes, and is the producer of seven interactive DVDs for photographers on all facets of photography.


Frequently Bought Together

Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People + Rick Sammon's Exploring the Light: Making the Very Best In-Camera Exposures + Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography
Price for all three: $75.14

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Whether you're interested in studio photographs, or "environmental" photos of individuals where they live, in Face to Face you'll learn the preparation and attention to detail required to make alluring people pictures.

From the Introduction
The Camera Looks Both Ways
“In picturing the subject, we are also picturing a part of ourselves.”
When it comes to photographing people, that is, no doubt, the most important photo tip I can share with you. “Every picture is a self portrait” is another way of conveying that point. Let me explain. When you are looking through your camera’s viewfinder, viewing and framing a subject, if you realize that the feeling, the emotion, the attitude and the energy that you project will be reflected in your subject’s face--and eyes--you’ll get a higher percentage of pictures that you like. That’s because by your actions, you are subconsciously “directing” the subject to mirror the way you feel. So in looking at the opening photograph in this introduction, I am sure that you know exactly how I was feeling when I took the picture outside a school in Lombok, Indonesia. That’s right! I was having a blast. For all the photographs in this book, I will provide their locations for those of you who may want to know where the pictures were taken. Some of you may find that photographing strangers in strange lands is the ultimate photography experience. For me, getting people to like, or at least accept me, in a matter of seconds in far-away places is my prime goal as a travel photographer. After achieving that goal, taking the pictures is relatively easy--if you follow the tips in this book. Even if you are not a world traveler, however, you’ll find that my tips and techniques for photographing people, for the most part, are the same, no matter where you go. In this book, the one that I’ve dreamed about writing for years, I’ll also share some behind-the-scenes stories. For my Lombok picture, for example, I had just finished doing magic tricks for about an hour in one of the school’s classrooms. I love doing magic tricks when I travel, and it’s also a great technique for “breaking the ice” and getting people to let me into their lives for a few moments. That effort resulted in one of my favorite group shots--a shot that captures the enthusiasm of the school kids. Of course, I’ll also get into the technical aspects of photographing people on the following pages. You’ll learn how to photograph people in low light and in bright light, with a flash and without a flash. You’ll see how reflectors and diffusers can turn a snapshot into a great shot. You’ll understand the difference between an environmental portrait and a portrait--and the difference between taking and making a picture. Camera settings and lenses will also be covered. You’ll find sections on Outdoor Photography and Indoor Photography. In some cases, you’ll be able to use the techniques interchangeably, such as when it comes to posing a group or creating a sense of depth in a photograph. In fact, I will share everything I know about photographing people with you--all while trying to make the learning process fun and enjoyable. Before moving on, I’d like to share three more pictures with you that illustrate my “Camera Looks Both Ways” philosophy.





Check out my pictures of a young woman whom I photographed in Cuba, a Buddhist monk whom I photographed in Cambodia, and a man with face piercing whom I photographed in Cuba. While photographing one subject, I was beaming with joy. For another, I was trying to show an honest feeling of respect. And for another, I was expressing the feeling of, “Man, you look totally awesome.” I don’t have to match the photos with the feeling for you. See! The camera does, indeed, look both ways. Speaking of photo philosophies, if you check out the table of contents, you’ll see that Photo Philosophies is the longest section in this book. That’s because getting a good picture of a person goes way beyond technique. When it comes to photographing a person, you really need to think before you shoot, and that section offers a lot of food for thought. So what about Photoshop? Well, all of the pictures in this book have been enhanced to some degree, even it was only in sharpening, cropping and/or adjusting the brightness, contrast and color of an image. This is not a Photoshop book. However, because Photoshop can help you get a more dramatic, dynamic and artistic images, I’ve included a section at the end of this book that features my favorite Photoshop enhancements when it comes to people pictures.








For now, this before-and-after pair of images of a horse and rider at sunset, photographed at the Ponderosa Ranch in Oregon, shows how simple cropping and a bit of color, contrast and brightness enhancement can turn a snapshot into a great shot.
Ready to get going with some solid tips and techniques? I am. In fact, I can’t wait for you to read the rest of this book--because I truly enjoy teaching and sharing my photographic experiences. Naturally, I also like “revisiting,” so to speak, some of my favorite subjects. Those of you who have attended my workshops and seminars, or have seen my Web TV shows, also know that I enjoy meeting people. For those of you who are joining me for the first time, I hope you enjoy “meeting” me here. Before you go, however, I’d like to share two of my all-time people pictures with you.





Let's look at a portrait of a young girl whom I photographed in Bhutan and a picture of three girls that I photographed in Costa Rica. What I like about these pictures is the direct eye contact the subjects are making with my camera--and me. Connect with your subjects, and your pictures will connect with those who view them.
Understand your subject, and you’ll gain some insight into the soul of the photographer--your soul.








--Rick Sammon
Croton-on-Hudson, NY

About the Author

Rick Sammon has published 28 books, including his latest, Face to Face - Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People. Other Rick Sammon titles include: Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops and Flying Flowers - the beauty of the butterfly. Rick writes for PCPhoto, Outdoor Photographer and Layers magazine. This seasoned pro gives more than a dozen photography workshops (including private workshops) and presentations around the world each year. He also presents at Photoshop World, which Rick says is a "blast." Each year, he travels the globe in search of new images and gives more than a dozen photography workshops and presentations around the world. He's been to more than 100 destinations on the planet, including the Arctic, Antarctica, Africa, Bhutan, Brazil, Galapagos, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Papua New Guinea. Rick is also the author of the Canon Digital Rebel XT lessons on the Canon Digital Learning Center. He is also a Canon Explorer of Light. When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, "My specialty is not specializing." See http://www.ricksammon.com for more information.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059651574X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596515744
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.9 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Sammon has published 31 books, incluidng Rick Sammon's Digital Photography Secrets, Face to Face, Exploring the Light and Rick Sammon's Pocket Guide to Travel Photography.

Rick writes for PCPhoto, Outdoor Photographer and Layers magazine.

Rick hosts photography and Photoshop shows on kelbytraining.com .
Rick gives more than a dozen photography workshops (including private workshops) and presentations around the world each year. He also presents at Photoshop World, which Rick says is a 'blast.'

Rick is also the author of the Canon Digital Rebel XT lessons on the Canon Digital Learning Center. He is also a Canon Explorer of Light.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, 'My specialty is not specializing.'

See www.ricksammon.com for more information.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun with Tips June 10, 2008
Format:Paperback
This book is about taking pictures of people; not just portraits, but also people at events, and even, in a few cases, people in the landscape.

The book is divided into five parts. Part I includes a portfolio of pictures from Carnevale, in Venice, with the author's pithy comments like "Choose a creative angle. Break the traditional rules of composition and look for unique angles." There is also a short portfolio of pictures from Mongolia, in which the author mentions different pieces of equipment he found useful in taking the pictures.

Part II includes 19 chapters, each a bit of photographic philosophy, like "Adding Props", together with several photos that are said to illustrate the point and a few hundred words of explanation.

There are parts on outdoor and indoor photography that provide several tips on photographing in these lighting conditions. The book concludes with a section on using Photoshop, wherein the author describes several techniques that can be used to manipulate images for a different effect.

Sammon is an enthusiastic author and that comes through in the writing. He is also takes interesting, colorful and exciting pictures in exotic places that will catch the reader's eye, including Venice, Namibia, and ranches in the American Southwest. Yet, after the pleasure of reading this book, I realized that I was looking at a book that combined a portfolio of photographs (some of which I recalled from other Sammon books) and a bunch of tips. I like to see instruction built up in a structured fashion rather then as tips. For example, Sammon gives a lot of tips about depth-of-field, but never gives a comprehensive explanation of the subject.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Capturing essence rather than just image... June 21, 2008
Format:Paperback
I'm about to graduate from a digital point-and-shoot to an entry level DSLR camera. In order to create all those images that will wow my friends, I read through the book Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People by Rick Sammon. If you're looking to focus on people and faces, this book puts you in the proper mindset on how best to shoot in a way that captures more than just an image. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivering the vision June 20, 2008
Format:Paperback
In an age where many 'academic' Art historians and studio Art teachers often feel that art is about thought and explanation as opposed to inspiration, revisualization, craft and execution, this exquisitely illustrated book teaches how world-class images are the result of both inspiration careful visualition AND execution.

Rick Sammon shares techniques he uses to make extraordinary and artistic portraits. He reveals important tips and strategies for engaging the subject and setting up the shoot, along with techniques for photographing in a variety of conditions indoors and outdoors.

His side by side comparisons of subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes that make all the difference taking the image from 'acceptable' to meaningful, is one of the most helpful aspects of his book. The book handles sometimes highly technical parameters in a simple and easily understood way. It teaches the value of understanding the craft so that the photographer does not stumble over technique as he/she tries to illustrate and share an important thought.

facetoface is a must study for young working professional portrait photographers but also extremely valuable for those wishing to commit art.. This book helps the artist to deliver on his/her vision. And as any mother knows it is easer to conceive than to deliver. Artists deserve to learn the same.

David A.Page
Fine Arts Photographer (ret.)
Duke University
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Relatively recently I got into DSLR photography and more recently I began photographing people. I have learned something from every photo shoot that I have done, but it has been a lot of trial and error. I just purchased Rick's book and find it a fabulous reference. A number of the reviews refer to this as a "beginner's book", which it definitely is; however, I think it really will have tips and ideas that even a well seasoned professional can use.

There are a number of aspects about this book that I reall like. The most obvious is the extensive use of photographs to help the reader compare and contrast the effects of a particular technique. Another thing that I liked was the overall organization. Five parts to the book with multiple lessons in each. Each part and lession seemed to naturally flow to the next. Best of all, though, is he starts off with "Jumpstart Your Session." This section gives a quick overview for impatient people like me.

What I find most challenging about learning photography, or just about anything, is that there are so many things you need to pay attention to. Until you have been doing it a while it is almost impossible to remember everything you need to for each shot. However, with experience these things become ingrained. In a relatively short number of pages, Rick's book covers all of the basic elements; and because of its organization, it is easy to take a quick refresher course or to focus on one thing.

I started working with models because I like taking candid photos of everyday people. However, I still struggle with coming up to people and asking to photograph them and conversely, I do not like to just walk up and photograph them. Ricks book touches upon this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but...
I agree with a lot of the good already lauded for this little volume. There are some thoughtful tips to guide the photographer to see people in addition to the shot. Read more
Published on August 2, 2009 by Boo Radley
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, But Beware It's All in B&W!
I read the description, I read the reviews and being a portrait photographer thought this book could be both, interesting and helpful. Read more
Published on July 26, 2009 by L. Rodarte
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not great
This book would gives a few hints and tips but not in great depth. For anyone interested in looking at nice photos and some small hints and tips then maybe this book may be for... Read more
Published on May 5, 2009 by R. Ibrahim
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration and Expertise
I love the photographs in this book, and Rick's explanations of his process inspire me to get out there and "make" better pictures myself. Read more
Published on March 19, 2009 by Dorothy Brown
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible. Do Not Buy this Book
Hey let's publish a book of my photos with very little technical info and seemingly nine-million exclamation points. Read more
Published on December 14, 2008 by D. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars f you haven't ever don this type photography, it holds the keys.
This book provides the reader with many common sense points of advice that are all very relevant and helpful. Read more
Published on October 30, 2008 by Bruce A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
I found this book very helpful. It has great photos that illustrate his points, and it is easy to understand. Read more
Published on October 8, 2008 by Sharon Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction for beginners (not technical at all)
After reading Peterson's books (understanding exposure, beyond portraiture, understanding shutter speed, and more) this book feels not technical enough. Read more
Published on September 27, 2008 by Shlomo Yona
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide for any photography library
Rick Sammon is known for his travel and adventure photo guides, but FACE TO FACE offers something different: a focus on the art of making people pictures using a range of methods... Read more
Published on September 4, 2008 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book
Face to Face by Rick Sammon is one of my favorites books on portrait photography.

It's full with stunning pictures of people from many places around the world. Read more
Published on August 28, 2008 by Markus Jais
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