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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2011
Goal - My hope and main purpose for writing this review is so that I may point you in the right direction in regards to the decision of whether or not you will benefit by purchasing this book. Perhaps you may be propelled into action which will progress you forward in your photography journey or perhaps this review may simply save you some valuable time and money. In my opinion both are excellent options from which to choose.

I believe it is important to know at least a little bit of background information about your reviewer before you take his or her word for something. This may help you make the right choice for you by determining in which ways we are similar and in which ways we may differ from one another.

I am a photographer that is relatively new to the industry but nonetheless have been paid to shoot various assignments including events, engagements, products etc. It took a while but I finally found my compass point and so that next step for me in my career, or my path if you prefer, is to become a full-time wedding photographer. Naturally, you want to do a fantastic job and make sure that you create not only valuable art/products that can completely satisfy your clients but you also want to create a long-lasting successful brand right from the beginning. I am self taught, I have had the opportunity to read some great photography books by some amazing photographers/teachers and attend a handful of useful workshops.

I was excited to get this book. After reading all the reviews I believed this book, above the others I was currently looking to purchase, would contain useful information that was both innovative and something that you would only be able to gain through years of experience and after multiple failed attempts. I was disappointed. The book is pretty, feels good in your hands, but is light on content. I do not have more time to read than the average person and I finished this entire book in one day. Jose's story is very similar to that of other currently successful wedding photographers and if you are like me then you will probably bore easily as each page reveals nothing that you did not already know - even as it concerns the technical aspects of photography. I was hoping for a more in-depth analysis of what he does, how he does it, and why it is such a successful formula, instead I felt as though every page contained only surface material that made me feel more and more cheated as the book continued. It all felt very simplified to me - too simplified. As a grade school book is to a comprehensive college textbook. I would have appreciated more insightful business information since being a wedding photographer isn't so much about the pictures as it is about understanding how to run and operate your own small business. I don't care for plugs because people are simply just people but sometimes there are noteworthy additions to the universal library of information that can move you right along in the proper direction with good momentum that can not be ignored. For example if you really want to learn about light than you read "Light Science and Magic" or if you really want to improve your interpersonal skills then you must read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Carnegie. These books give you the information you need to know in a direct manner. They are THEE books on their particular subject matter.

So for me, if I could go back in time and have the opportunity to make this choice again I would pass, I would not purchase this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2011
Jose Villa's fine art wedding photography comprised of three parts. In the first part, Villa discusses about his style. He shares his preference on light, exposure, color and composition. The second part discusses on a typical western style wedding: getting ready, ceremony, bridal & family portrait and so on. The last part talks about marketing.

In the first and the second part, Villa emphasizes on creating a consistent photography style. His style can be created by using specific gears (he uses medium format film camera and 80mm f/2 lens most of the time). As a result, most of his images has shallow depth of field and pastel color. He also suggest that color, composition, exposure should be consistent.

Throughout the book, there are many Jose Villa's signature style photos. Most photos has shallow depth of field, semi-posed, over exposed and has pastel color. I also love that Villa shares his real-life mistakes and how he handle it.

In the last part of the book, Jose share his marketing approach. It is a straightforward tips and quite obvious. For example he discusses the plus and minuses on marketing media such as magazine advertisement, website, blog, etc. He also share tips about pricing and how to get business referral.

Overall, I enjoy reading and looking at the photos and layout design. However, I feel the content (text) is very basic and light. More experienced photographers who like to learn in-depth about wedding photography techniques should look for other book.

After reading the book, it is tempting to copy Jose Villa's style. But I think, it is better to use the book as an inspiration to design your own photography style.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2011
I'm a part-time wedding photographer. I've shot a couple dozen weddings this last year, mostly second-shooting. I'm trying to improve. This book actually helped with that (I've read so many books, that not all do anymore).

The most important thing to say is that Jose is actually a really good photographer. Not all authors are, but his shots are great. He shoots film, and "fine art" seems to him to frequently mean out of focus or oddly-composed, but the shots really are nice.

The book is easy to read, and full of tips. Things he does that work for him. I pulled out a couple simple things that I intend to try at the next wedding I shoot (here's one: tell the couple, standing a few feet apart, to close their eyes and kiss; they'll miss, which will be funny, leading to genuine laughs and emotion which becomes the photographer's opportunity for excellent shots).

I found myself wishing he shot digital. I don't do film, and far too many of his tips aren't as relevant to we dSLR-users (which film to use, when, and why the film's grain and color reproduction are ideal for his style, etc).

He got me thinking of my consistency in presentation. My retouching is sort of a creative hodgepodge. Some shots color, some BW, some sepia toned, some duotones... each image sort of handled individually. He got me thinking about the importance of consistency in delivery (throughout the album, throughout multiple events for a family, etc). Whereas Jose's found his style, I'm still working on mine.

Anyway, his book was great. I'd definitely recommend it to professional wedding photographers who are still learning (only the jaded ones aren't). If you have no intention of ever shooting weddings (even one), I'm not sure why you'd be looking at this book, but it might be worth it just for the few inspirational ideas that will be relevant to you, and for the book full of gorgeous imagery. This is for sure one of the better photo books I've read recently.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
I received Jose Villa's book yesterday int he mail and flew through the pages. I am really familiar with his work already so I was really interested in what he had to say when it comes to photography. First of all the book was very nicely written, Jeff Kent did a great job of creating a mood of writing that really reflected the images I was looking at. I felt that the book shared everything a photographer would want to know about another photographers process. It was technical, detailed and an easy read. I closed the book feeling really inspired and leaving tons of hand written notes in various chapters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2013
It's got a great title, but an underexposed delivery. Much of this 2011 book has not been updated from its original 1980 publication. For example, the equipment discussed on pages 18 and 19 are films cameras and film stock. ALL of the sample photos in this book were taken with film.

The basic advice of chapter 2 is lens wide open and overexposed. In the words of the author the advice to overexpose is that it "creates a softer, lighter, more airy feel to the images." The problem is that film has reciprocal failure in both highlights and lowlighs--the S-curve response of film. Although it is called "failure," it is actually an advantage of film over digital. What reciprocal failure means is that as the film starts starts to get overexposed in a bright part of the image, the emulsion becomes increasingly LESS sensitive so that most of the remainder of the image will be captured at the high end of the middle-tone range before it gets completely blown out to white. The result is that highlight details are retained on film. In other words, the advice probably works for film.

Digital sensors on the other hand have a linear response to light intensity. An overexposed image taken with a digital camera loses a lot more detail because the loss of detail quickly extends down to the middle tones of the image. Cameras with 14-bit image depth shot in Raw mode allow one to moderate this effect in post processing, however the result is still very tricky and not the same as one gets through the lens with film.

It's not a totally useless book--I did gave it three stars because there are good discussions about how to approach the subject, both staged and candid shots, and of course being sensitive to light and lighting.

I thought a much better guide was Wedding Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Suzy Clement:
Wedding Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
(However, she spends a lot of time on shooting the bride dressing, and I doubt that many brides would be comfortable with a male photographer in that situation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
Ok so I'm not usually one to write reviews, but this book is worth writing about. There are a lot of wedding photography books out there, but this is really one of a kind. It's packed with so much information- info that applies to right now. What I love about this book is Jose is so honest! He really let's you get in his head and let's you understand how he thinks -from an artists perspective and from a business perspective. Not a lot of photographers are that honest, sharing with you how they think and also sharing the mistakes they've made. Jose puts a new meaning to fine art wedding photography- and shows you how every single step of his photography and of his business, every product- is high quality both in material and in thought. It can be easy to get distracted by all these different products companies offer to you to sell to your clients, but this book reminded me what I'm doing/ what I want to do: create art for people, and who I am: a fine art wedding and portrait photographer, and how to develop the fine art approach. You can take what you want from this book. I read the book when it first came out, and recently re-read it, and I'm still learning from it and picking up more/different things as I grow as a photographer and business woman. Overall I'd call this book inspiring and informative, and way underpriced. Thank you Jose and Jeff for this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
This is one of the best books on wedding photography that i have purchased so far. The pictures are gorgeous and Jose's talent and passion for detail and beauty is evident in each and every page.

I have been following Jose's work for sometime now and imho, him along with Elizabeth Messina are two of the best wedding photographers out there. Just delicious and dizzying work! Why am i still not shooting film, i often wonder?

Thank you so much Jose for sharing all these information with us. Your images make thousands happy and i am one of them. Two techniques that i have picked up from your book and that i often use in my photography are: back lighting and overexposing shots to get that soft skin tone. I might not get the fuji 400 look with my nikon d7000 but i can still get beautiful shots by combining these two techniques, and i want to thank you for teaching me this. I used to dread having to shoot at noon, now its the complete opposite. I love the sun, the more the merrier!

I am coming for your Workshop one of these days!! Until then happy shooting and good luck with all your personal projects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2014
As a professional photographer, I'm comfortable with both my equipment, and my ability to attain the results I'm looking for. As I read this book I found myself saying "yep", "absolutely", "do that all the time". And then... I also found myself saying "cool idea", "wonder why I didn't think of that", and "I'm definitely going to do that from now on!". This book is a "must read", not just for wedding photographers, but for anyone that is photographing people. When talking about Jose Villa the conversation always ends in some sort of undisputed agreement that he is an immensely talented artist/photographer, which he is. Unfortunately, you can't read a book and then go out and shoot like Jose Villa :-( But, I gotta tell ya.. He has shared so much of his hard-earned, and insightful information, that if you read this book you will, no question about it, make better, more beautiful images, both digital or film. - Then who knows? I'm going to read it again, and most likely again. #buythisbook
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
I really enjoyed the down-to-earth suggestions on how Jose deals with his clients to make them comfortable during a shoot, helping him get the beautiful images he captures. There's more to 'posing' than just going through the mechanics - you can get the people positioned properly, but if you don't have their emotional side involved as well, your photos won't jump off the page. That's my challenge to myself and I greatly appreciate Jose's description of how he works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
I have always admired Jose's work, it is simple breathtaking! I bought the book from Amazon last week and have read it already!
I was completely impressed by the book, its layout and information he provides regarding the actual camera settings for each shot! I feel that is so generous of him to relay the technical aspects of his work!
A great read and wonderful to have in your library for beginners and pros in the wedding business.
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