Top positive review
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Cutting-edge, comprehensive, and, yes, smoking-hot models!
on July 6, 2010
As a seasoned travel photographer, my genre is quite the antithesis of this one: I shoot primarily outdoors rather than in-studio, I rely solely on natural lighting, I profoundly prefer candid shots over posed, and next to never do I digitally manipulate my images.
The upside to constantly traveling across the world is I know probably better than anyone which cities and countries are home to the most lovely ladies (Tokyo tops the list). I have always envied photogs who work in the comfortable confines of a studio, interact with a bevy of beautiful women and certainly get paid far better for their work than I. Why, then, shouldn't I give it a try?
But before actually delving into nude photography, I first have been flipping through numerous volumes of photo technique guides to see if it is indeed a genre I could easily convert to (i.e. teaching an old dog new tricks), but thus far I have been put off by what I have seen: guides that are either excruciatingly technical or out-dated to the point of uselessness.
And then comes along True Confessions, a brand-spanking-new book that blessedly incorporates pretty much every up-to-date aspect of the nude photography profession into a refreshingly fun instructional manual for amateurs and pros alike.
With over 20 years nude photography experience ("hundreds" of naked girls, by his last count, lucky devil) combined with proper schooling, I can't think of a better teacher than A.K. Nicholas. But even more important than his own experience and credentials is Nicholas' talent as an author for being able to convey a highly-technical skill such as studio photography into easy-to-follow text and diagrams that will immediately put the reader at ease. "You'll learn from my successes AND from my mistakes," writes Nicholas. As a photographer who is entirely self-taught and has limited technical background, I appreciated this most about True Confessions.
At a 120+ pages, True Confessions is comprehensive. 20 of those pages are dedicated to the most challenging aspect of the job: recruiting and shooting models. Our Savior Nicholas plots it all out for us in hip lingo akin to the rules of dating ("I never call after a third `no'"; "concentrate on booking a specific day, not a specific model"). He then moves on to studio etiquette, such as how (not) to physically handle a model's fun-parts, tips to make a new nude feel relaxed, and chatting a model up. "My goal is to make images, not to make friends," states Nicholas. Elliot DiMauro from `Just Shoot Me' would be so disappointed.
A sheer quarter of the book is on the art of lighting. Due to my personal jones for natural light, I was admittedly was initially loath to read this chapter. But Nicholas' cool reasoning ("the key to background light is not a lot of light, but a lot of lightS") complimented by helpful illustrated diagrams, example images and informational text - and even a token few pages on outdoor lighting - those 30 pages were, well, illuminating.
Arguable the most useful section of this book is on posing and composition. Nicholas dips into the "pin-up versus art" debate and critiques the mythical "Golden Mean" method, encouraging us to "depart from the formulaic," though ultimately the author suggests a combination of classic and experimental composition to create new poses. The chapter closes (read: rewards us) with a whopping 100 (!) different sample poses ranging from traditional to avant-garde that are sure to give Playboy a run for its money.
Post-processing is covered in-depth (he suggests "a day of post-processing for every hour of shooting"), including instructional screen-captures of the most up-to-date computer software tips. Advice on shooting for microstock and making/selling 3D reference photos follows. A helpful glossary and sample model release forms close out the appendix.
While the author gets quite specific about lighting, he avoids suggesting specific lenses or gear, which may frustrate newbie photogs who prefer to have their hands held on such matters. And with the exception of the un-credited oriental beauty on page 60, I would have liked to see more exotic models (Latina, Asian, African American, Indian) instead of a purely-Anglo cast, as ethnic skin tones photograph far differently. However, Nicholas can consider such suggestions for a "True Confessions Part 2: International Nudes."