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Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography Paperback – September 29, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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About the Author

Michael Grecco’s clients include ABC, HBO, IBM, BBDO, GE, GQ, ESPN, and dozens of other top companies in entertainment, business, and advertising. His first book, The Art of Portrait Photography, is out of print, and used copies regularly sell for more than $100. The winner of awards from Communication Arts, Photo Design, AR 100, the New York and Los Angeles Art Director Clubs, and many others, Grecco teaches many photography seminars across the country each year. He lives in Santa Monica, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; 1st edition (September 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817442278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817442279
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.4 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Make no mistake about it. Michael Grecco is a brilliant portrait photographer and the pictures presented in this book are top-notch and edgy. Yet, as I read this book, I at first felt that this was another example of how-to-itis. That's the case where a publisher feels that a book will sell better if it's an instructional manual than if it's a portfolio.

I felt this even more strongly as I read the first few pages, where I encountered pictures that documented the use of equipment and techniques that I knew nothing about. Then as I read further, I found that the discussions of general principles followed the pictures rather than preceding them. I found this a strange editorial technique that left me mystified as I looked at pictures and then had me flipping back to them after the discussion. I was also glad I knew a little bit about portrait photography so that I could understand the skeletal descriptions of the technical aspects of what Grecco was doing

Grecco has sections on cameras, illumination, the medium, creativity and conceptualization, the subject/ photographer connection and case studies. In this last section he presents pictures grouped by subject matter and then explains how he came to pose the pictures and light them. Throughout, he used this show and then tell approach. Once I got used to it, I didn't find it so off-putting.

You may wonder who the audience for this book is. For example, when he describes the army of assistants involved in a shoot, including make-up artists, prop builders, location scouts and so forth, the average photographer will feel out of his league. One of the lights that Grecco uses may cost more than all of the equipment some serious photographers may own.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is another artsy treatment of lighting that talks more about the art of lighting. He assumes you know how to do most of the technical lighting stuff.

While he does show a 'wire drawing' of some setups it does not go very deep into the technical at all. I was hoping for a bit more 'hands on' or 'how to set up' information. If you want to be inspired, maybe this is your book. If you are looking for instruction, look elsewhere. My copy will be up in the used book section.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't read it cover-to-cover. Just flip though this book and stop at the first picture that grabs you. Grecco is that rare photographer who can actually put into words the creative process behind his images. He is smart, honest, funny, and frank about what it takes to make the beautiful, unique, and skillfully executed portraits that lavishly illustrate this book. There is a wealth of detailed, specific information about how the photographs were created (lighting diagrams, actual cameras, lenses, and lights used, etc.), however, most valuable is his emphasis on WHY he made his various creative and technical decisions. This volume would be worthwhile for the pictures alone, or for the diagrams, the behind-the-scenes anecdotes, or just for the insights into the technical, practical, strategic, interpersonal, and financial components that contribute to the successful outcome of what is typically thought of as a simply artistic endeavor. Rather than regarding it as a book of recipes to be rigorously replicated, he suggests using it as a jumping-off point; as an opportunity to facilitate and fine-tune your own creative process.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously, Michael Grecco is an accomplished photographer, his body of work speaks for itself. On the dust jacket and in the introduction, Grecco says, "...Assistants and other photographers have asked why I would want to give away my secrets in a book..." After reading this book, I would like to assure Mr. Grecco's contemporaries that his secrets still lie safe with him.

Lots of allusions to celebrity and lots of high end equipment name dropping occur. There is very little discussion about development of the theme of an image. This is definitely a book for Grecco fans not for experienced photographers seeking additional insight. The title is deceptive, the chapter on Illumination is 44 pages, that's right, 44 pages.

Don't bother.
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Format: Paperback
After reading about this book on the Strobist blog, I decided to order it and see for myself. I was not disappointed! It is full of tips and examples and how-to's, some using very elaborate equipment, some very simple one-light setups. He also shares some very clever ideas and tricks which can be adapted to many situations. Grecco is, moreover, a very pleasant teacher and the book is a very good read that gives the reader some views behind the scenes of Grecco Inc., or any major studio for that matter.

My only slight problem with this book is the introduction, which is not extensive enough for beginners and irrelevant to advanced and pro shooters. Probably not Grecco's choice, either.

You'll still have to come up with your own ideas and interpretations of the sitters and the images you want to bring home. But to get you technically up to speed, give you a number of widely usable ideas and give you a very stimulating read into the bargain, this is the book to look at.
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