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Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer Hardcover


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Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer + Road to Seeing + Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers. (Voices That Matter)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823085651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823085651
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“There is no photographer alive I’d rather see a book from, period.” —David Hobby (Strobist)

About the Author

Gregory Heisler has been described as having “the eye of an artist, the mind of a scientist, and the heart of a journalist.” Renowned for his technical mastery and thoughtful responsiveness, he has photographed more than seventy cover portraits for Time magazine, which reside in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery. His iconic images and innovative visual essays have also graced the covers and pages of Life, Esquire, GQ, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Fortune, and The New York Times Magazine. As a sought-after speaker and educator, he has taught at the International Center of Photography, the School of Visual Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Geographic Society, as well as scores of workshops and seminars throughout the country and around the world. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. He can be found at GregoryHeisler.com.

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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for any photographer interested in portrait photography.
Alan Shi
Heisler's commentary and his sharing of the technical details behind the shots, make this book a must buy for aspiring, and experienced, portrait photographers.
Wine Country
Or do you read (and re-read) it slowly, learning as much as you can from one chapter at a time.
D. Hobby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 107 people found the following review helpful By D. Hobby on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer' is remarkably open and honest, both from emotional/personal and technical/photographic points of view. And as beautiful as the photography is, you will not find the pictures the main takeaway from the book.

That last sentence feels strange and somehow sacrilegious to write, but it is absolutely true. And the title is actually a good representation of the book's focus. The pleasant surprise is that he is actually a very good writer, and you can hear him sitting and talking with you as you read it.

This is not a lighting book. Although, to be sure, there is a lot of lighting information in it. Perhaps more value in lighting education than any book I have ever read. What this is, is a 360-degree experience. Each of his fifty portraits gets its own little mini-chapter. The segment leads off with the photo, run full-page if vertical and double-truck if horizontal. The accompanying copy begins with the thought process leading up to the photo -- all of the thousand little things that happen before you press the shutter. You are there, with him, inside his thought process.

And in so many of the portraits, I could see the multiple instances in which I would have failed to come up with the solutions to make great pictures. It's disheartening, in a sense. Like watching someone effortlessly navigate all the way through a video game that had repeatedly stopped you.

Except, it's not effortless. What you get from this is a true sense of the work ethic (or "thought ethic?") that being a great photographer requires. And there is so, so much pre-thinking that goes into consistently being able to make great photos. That may be the biggest takeaway from this.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By James Meyers on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Years ago, when I was starting out as an adventure photographer, I asked a mentor of mine to recommend a book. He suggested Galen Rowell's "Mountain Light". I read and I read, looking for hard, technical information that I could replicate on my own adventures and came up utterly empty. How could a photography book be so devoid of this valuable information? It was only years later, after I'd gotten over (or at least more comfortable with) my obsession with the technical bits of photography and going back to that book, that I began to understand the opportunity I'd missed.

Heisler's "50 Portraits" is exactly that sort of book. Though you can get the technical info by digging into the back, you would totally miss the best this book has to offer in doing so. The real gift is reading Heisler's words. Image by image, he tells the story behind every capture in intricate detail. From the initial assignment call and pre-visualization of the concept, to the stomach-churning stress of the sometimes chaotic moments preceding the final capture, when all of his plans seemed to be falling down around him like the fractured walls of an dilapidated building - this is the insight that no quantity of cookie-cutter workshops could ever provide. Subject interaction, achieving the proper emotion, selecting the context to match the sitter - all of this and more are what makes up the real value of this book.

There is no shortage of info out there about light modifiers, daylight balancing, broad lighting vs. short lighting and so on. But great photography is about so much more than that - it's about the whole creative process and knowing which of all those tricks will work best to compliment a person or an environment and why.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Med rock NY on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The words are more important than the pictures. It may sound odd to say, especially about a book on Photography. But it's the truth! Heisler's description on his thought (process) is worth every single penny spent on this book. Building trust with the sitter (subject) is key beyond lighting, camera and everything else. The photos are very good. In fact, you may have seen many of them before -- but the knowledge imparted is exquisite. All in a quite beautiful and large-sized book.

Yes, I would have liked to have seen portraits of ordinary people, not just mostly famous personalities. But maybe that will be in the next book.

Don't think twice. Do get this book if you want to learn more about the artist and if you are looking to stop, pause and reflect upon yourself.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Klein on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a fan of Greg Heisler and his mentor Arnold Newman, I have been waiting for this book since I first learned that it was in the works during a workshop at Maine Media in 2011 with Greg and his captivating daughters and delightful partner. While very few exceed his technical skills, refreshing creativity, and ability to see in wonderfully different ways (just look at those tilted and shifted planes of focus); what comes across loud and clear in this beautiful hardcover book is just how articulate yet down to earth truly is this lovable man. He can shoot. He can write. And, above all he is a true mensch. It is therefore no wonder that his subjects responded to him with such compelling images. Badger & Parr, please make room for this classic. Andrew Roth, you need to change your title to 102 Books. And, what an incredible bargain at $24.00. Many thanks! I am buying five more for holiday gifts.
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