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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
Chances are if you are looking at this book, it's because you ran a keyword search using a combination that include the words: portrait, and photography. The thing is, most of the other books you have found are probably general overviews of photography which is something you probably have under your belt already. You on the other hand are interested in finding out more about both the aesthetic values involved specifically when photographing people as well as the technical side to achieve the image. In your ordinary photo book, it'll teach you how to use your camera and the science behind it, but it most likely lacks in specifics when it comes to a certain topic in photography such as portraiture. A working photography professional now, I had to figure out everything about photographing people, on my own, when I was studying photography at university. That is, as you can imagine, easier said than done. It took me many many years to become very comfortable with both the subject as well as the technical aspects involved. Portraiture is an evolving craft which is what keeps the field exciting and fresh, but having read this book, I wish I had it when I was first starting out in photography. The book is filled with choc full of examples from current working professionals as well as technical notes on how the photographs were created. The book begins with the history of portraiture from the times before photography, moving swiftly to current real world examples. By the end of the book you are introduced on going professional with your work. Very few books out there cover such broadness in a particular field of photography. With this book you will have years of a head start in portraiture. Give it a try and I have no doubt you'll find this book to be a keeper on your bookself for years to come.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
This book starts out defining it's subject; portraits, in great detail. Portraits were being produce long before photography ever evolved. A cave painting found in Angoul'me, France (dated 25,000 BC) is thought to be the oldest known example of a portrait. In 1623 Prince Philip IV of Spain commissioned a portrait that he felt was so flattering the he ordered all other likenesses of him collected and destroyed.

When the camera was first invented (First American patent was issued in 1840 photography to Alexander Wolcott for his camera), it took a skilled craftsman to take the photograph, but middle class citizens could afford it. Photography today has progressed to the digital camera and will move on to animation, three-dimensional imaging and handheld communication devices.

The book covers a lot of technical data, explained through the use of samples, examples, drawings and carts; all very clearly presented. There are not only the expected chapters on choosing equipment, lighting, composition and context, but chapters on computer basics, which covers the needed computer equipment and digital capture formats, but the basics of LightRoom(tm) and Photoshop(tm).

And all of that valuable information can be found in just the first 5 chapters. Chapters 6 and 7 cover Studio photography and Location/Environmental photography; both complex subjects that each have their own unique advantages and challenges.

Chapters 8 and 9 walk away from the technical side of photography. Chapter 8 contains interviews with 6 professional photographers. The interviews broadly outline the careers of Art Kane, Richard Renaldi, Emily Shur, Kristen Ashburn, Karen Cunningham and Sarah Wilson. Each of these professionals specialize in a different form of portrait photography.

Chapter 9 discusses what it takes to `Go Professional.'

This is a book that will require multiple readings and a lot of study and thought; but that is what a good book is all about...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2011
I'm an intermediate photog and found this to be a valuable addition to my library. After reading this book, I now know that other sources are too general in their counsel (to a reader's detriment). The info in this book is utterly eye-opening in some cases. Its great for home brew photography, and takes you into sophisticated work for the ultra serious. The clarifing information is so useful, but much would be lost on a beginner. Don't start your photography journey with this book. Pick it up a year later after a class or two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
If you want to really learn how to take photographic portraits, this book is an excellent start. It is as it says, a course. You will have assigments that will really make you think.
I found the the course very complete, covering equipment, photographers, composition technique and lighting styles in fairly deep detail. Even photoshop and lightroom are touched on so you can do some basic post production on your photos. The course does not favor film or digital which is great. My only critism would be that some of the assigment are so deep that really they need a pro to evaluate them and give you feedback on them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2014
I need to preface this with a disclosure. I consider myself a veteran in the cinematography/photography world. I love reviewing books from advanced to beginner because they help keep me fresh and maybe lend insight to new teaching methods. That being said…

It seems rare to see a book appropriately titled. So many books want to apply to everyone that they end up all being the same. This book is appropriately titled. If you are interested in portrait photography and are a student, GET THIS BOOK. If you are fresh out of school and considering taking photography from hobby to part-time, GET THIS BOOK. If you have a year or two under your belt and are hitting a bit of a dry spell, GET THIS BOOK. If you call yourself a ‘self-taught photographer who just uses natural light because you don’t like how flash looks’ GET THIS BOOK.

Reading so many books I also really REALLY appreciate a well-designed book. The style of having a tutorial for 2-4 pages is great for my short attention span. But don’t be fooled the amount of information in these short pages should leave you doggy earing/bookmarking/tabbing sections. This book I plan on revisiting on some of the lessons (In your photography career you will go through un-inspirational, dry chunks of time and need a boost/assignment).

It is a fast read so each sliver of subject might be a bit shallow for some viewers. Example: There is a section on LightRoom and Photoshop… to be fair they are very decent tips, but to me, this warrants a couple books by themselves. The history is the same thing as many other books ‘did you know renaissance painters applied many of the same…’ It’s necessary to have in a book but if you’ve read anything about history you can skip this section.

I read about half of the interviews in the back and have to say Mark’s lead in to the Wedding Photographer Karen Cunningham’s interview is something EVERY wedding photog should read. You will read through the lines nodding your head in agreement, finishing with “HE UNDERSTANDS ME.”

This book didn’t blow me away at first but was good, so it was lining up to be a four-star review, but then realized I had taking pictures of segments with my phone to send to other photographers and realized, yeah, this gets five from me.

Nick
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
I was unable to determine what this book was trying to teach. It has a section on how to become a pro but feels the need to explain very fundamental concepts such as f stop. I might add the explanation wasn't even correct. I found very few of the included photo examples inspiring. In short, I got nothing out of this book. I should have spent the time taking photos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2012
This is my favorite photography book. It's well written and cuts right to the chase on the info that you need to know to get started. It is a great tutorial for beginners. The variety of photos offer incredible insights to the many the application of photography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2013
I love this book. There are so many really good examples of work that I want to be out all of the time shooting. Highly recommended for anyone that is interested in photographing people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
It's a textbook; a little difficult to get through it without a classroom. BUT! I love the book, especially the Photoshop portions.
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on October 11, 2013
Too often have I looked online, hoping to find a comprehensive guide for a photography enthusiast like myself to start off with. All of them were either too general, or didn't answer any of the questions I had in regards to portrait photography.

This book not only guides you through the technical side of photography, but also how to compose a beautiful portrait. The university course-like setup is just what I needed, like an instructor/professor to a student, it also encourages you to do the activities outlined in the book.

It also really gets into the "heart" of portrait photography in the early chapters and really gets you to understand why you have the passion in the first place. A great book that not only teaches, but further opens the mind about what constitutes in a photo and what it means.

Brilliant stuff.
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