Top critical review
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Breadth, not Depth
on October 6, 2013
This book will probably come as a bit of a disappointment for anyone that really wants a good overview of fashion photography because there's actually fairly little content specifically about this genre of photography. The real problem with 'Fashion Photography 101' is that it tries to cover way too many topics, most not specific to fashion, which dilutes its overall value. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I imagine anyone that is really interested in fashion photography already probably has at least a decent understanding of basic camera equipment, shooting, lighting, and post-processing techniques, and wants to learn about fashion-specific topics.
Throughout the book, there are many images from Jade's shoots, including behind-the-scenes shots in some cases (and some are from her workshops). There are some really nice images here, and in many ways, these are the highlights of the book. The bad part is that like the sidebars that are scattered throughout the book, often times these topics/images are not at all related to the main text (or it's a stretch), so they do little to reinforce whatever is being discussed. As with many novice photography books, EXIF info is stuck in there, even though it's honestly not relevant in most cases.
The sections on equipment and shooting were quite forgettable. Anyone who needs help with this really ought to start elsewhere because you won't find any real depth here. The real meat of the book goes over working with the creative team; scenarios; and overview of the overall process; and some shooting and lighting techniques/ideas. While some of the information was genuinely interesting, most topics only spanned ~2 pages, with segments only a few short paragraphs long, so there was really limited value you can take away. The information felt more like rapid-fire blog entries on various topics than a textbook.
The book also goes over basic info about digital asset management (i.e. lightroom), and very basic retouching in Photoshop. These are really big topics and ~30 pages isn't even going to come close to scratching the surface, so you can imagine what kind of information you'll find here. I've seen this pattern repeated in other books, not dedicated to post-processing, where the book just kind of jams in some 'tips', but try to pass off the topic like it's some kind of primer. Trust me, it's not, and you really need to get dedicated books on these topics and not just read a few page spreads to learn how to use the various features. This book would be a lot stronger without these topics and more depth on the fashion-specific topics.
The book ends with a few pages about some basic marketing/branding strategies, that is mostly obvious even for people outside of the business.
I really love the idea of a dedicated fashion photography book that can really shed insights into the unique aspects of fashion, and share ideas for those trying to get started, although this book kind of falls flat. Outside of the great images, and the handful of useful insights, most of the information was pretty shallow and generic; the book could have been much, much better. So while I'd say this is still worth a casual read (borrow it, if you can), I can't see this being a must-have title for anyone's bookshelf.