- Series: Voices That Matter
- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: New Riders; 1st edition (February 27, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321803531
- ISBN-13: 978-0321803535
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 301 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter) 1st Edition
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About the Author
Roberto Valenzuela is a Beverly Hills-based photographer, specializing in wedding photography. He has been recognized as one of the world's top wedding photographers by Junebug Weddings, and has won over 50 international print competition accolades from the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) association. He is an active speaker and teacher at photography conferences across the country. Learn more at robertovalenzuelaphotography.com.
Top customer reviews
It starts off a bit slow. I have to admit, it took me a couple of months to get through the first part. It begins with a discussion of the elements of photography, such as geometry, balance, symmetry, patterns, etc. I've read a lot about those before, so it was a bit tough to get through. Even so, it was laying the foundation for what was to come. But, if you haven't read a lot about such topics, then you may not have the problem I had.
Part 2 starts getting better. It discusses posing in great detail, and does so extremely well. It covers both broad concepts (such as natural posing) and specific details (such as what to do with hands). And it covers a slew of posing archetypes that can be adapted to different situations.
Parts 3 and 4 are a bit short, but they use everything you've learned so far to teach you how to improve generally. Part 3 is about execution, or how to put it all together in the field. And Part 4 is about deliberate practice: he recommends some personal R&D on situations you're likely to encounter so that you'll be able to adapt when you do. What makes this part so great is that he not only gives you a method, but also offers some concrete examples of how practice paid off in a specific way. These two parts are what make the book so incredible for me. They're short, but they don't stand alone: they build on everything you've learned in the first two parts.
The author is clearly a master photographer. But he's also an excellent teacher. His book is very accessible, but also incredibly deep. I'm ashamed that it took me so long to realize how great the book really is!
Although the book is technically about wedding photography, and plenty of the "detailed stuff" is suited to that type of photography, the broader concepts and methods he teaches can be of great benefit to any type of photographer.
I would say that I don't think this book is for beginners. It assumes you have basic technical skills, and doesn't teach them. It's about creativity and execution. You don't have to be a professional to get a lot out of the book -- I'm not! -- but you should be fairly advanced. If you're not yet there, put this book on your wish list for the future and don't forget to come back for it.
The book is from a general photography perspective, but also from a wedding photographer perspective As photographers, we all get asked to take pictures of couples, groups etc. This book really zeros in on how to direct people to get the best individual or group portrait shot.
Roberto's presentation is as if you were on a workshop, but you're the only person who signed up so he went ahead anyways. It's a one on one couching, a giving away of the inner secrets of a successful photographer who has learned all the skills.
I would recommend anyone to purchase this book. Perhaps your an amateur looking for better composition, or a pro looking for new techniques, or a person who just wants to learn how to pose people for better shot.
Valenzuela's book rather approaches the topics from a creative/artistic point of view: it teaches you how to recognize geometry in the scenes you are shooting; how to reduce the background clutter by finding "simple" structures that are effective compositional elements; why a picture needs "balance" and how you can use elements you find in the scene to achieve balance; which expressions and messages you send by taking silhouettes; which emotions do you evoke by which method of posing; how do you effectively pose a subject; etc. The book addresses the "why", as in "what's the message you are providing with this method?"; "why would you want to choose this approach?", at least as much as the "how".
And this book does that in an ingenious way: very short chapters, dedicated to one simple concept (shadow, silhoettes, balance, geometry, etc.). You can read each chapter in 5-15 minutes. The chapters are illustrated by pictures that are both excellent, and "approachable". Meaning: while many of the pictures are by all means fantastic, they are not so out-of-this-world artistically mind blowing that you look at them and feel "never in a million years will I be capable of producing something like that". In other words, the author (who is perfectly capable of producing out-of-this-world artistically mind blowing images) choose illustrations for his book that get his points across, and keep you motivated. His purpose is not to prove what a brilliant photographer he is (for that, have a look at the portfolio on his website, you'll be amazed!).
The short chapters always end with an exercise. These exercises obviously are meant to practice what was being discussed in the chapter. But at the same time, the exercises are real. "Take a camera and shoot 5 pictures of squares you find in the room you are currently in". They are of the type that makes you want to do them right away, because you know you can do this, and because you realize that it teaches you something (e.g. recognizing the geometry in a scene).
This book is refreshingly different. I am currently on my third read of the book (got it as a gift 2 weeks ago). First time I read it cover to cover, without stopping for the exercises (which I highly recommend, by the way). For the second read I re-visited some key chapters that I noticed towards the end that I had not completely understood. And now I am slowly making my way through each chapter, actually doing the exercises.
The "Picture Perfect" book would also make an excellent program for any camera club looking to develop an instructional schedule. Highly recommend!
Cons: cost (is about 5-10 dollars too expensive for the content). Many of these shots and discussions can be found in some form for free in blog posts and articles.
If you're familiar with his story, or with the later chapters in the book, you'll appreciate his emphasis on practice. He holds that when nearly every wedding couple or potential client had access to friends with good camera equipment, who can do an "okay" job for very little money, the only way to justify the professional is through his /her skill - where the ROI is obvious. And that can't happen when photographers don't hone their skills and just show up and wing it.
Most recent customer reviews
One recommendation: Take Roberto seriously.Read more
I could not be without it.