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Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting: Take Memorable Shots Every Time [Paperback]

Catherine Jamieson , Sean McCormick
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 31 2006
Portraits preserve people


Since the earliest portraits were scratched onto cave walls, we've developed increasingly sophisticated tools for capturing human likenesses. Yet the motivation has changed little -- to freeze a human image as an art form, a means of communication, a piece of personal history. Whether formalized with elaborate settings and lighting or snapped at the beach to hold forever the pure joy in a child's face, portraits preserve people. Today's digital technology offers flexibility, economy, and almost limitless tools for perfecting your images, and these experts help you use it.
* Discover the skills you need to move from serious amateur to professional photographer
* Learn how a snapshot differs from a casual portrait
* Identify what you want your portrait to communicate
* Investigate lighting equipment and how to use it in different scenarios
* Use natural or mixed light to create unique effects
* Explore composition, posing, and handling challenges
* Handle props, backgrounds, color, location shooting, and studio shots
* Work with groups, children, and pets
* Perfect image-editing methods and final-touch processes that produce high-quality, professional images
* Find resources that can help you in setting up your own portrait business

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From the Back Cover

Portraits preserve people

Since the earliest portraits were scratched onto cave walls, we've developed increasingly sophisticated tools for capturing human likenesses. Yet the motivation has changed little — to freeze a human image as an art form, a means of communication, a piece of personal history. Whether formalized with elaborate settings and lighting or snapped at the beach to hold forever the pure joy in a child's face, portraits preserve people. Today's digital technology offers flexibility, economy, and almost limitless tools for perfecting your images, and these experts help you use it.

  • Discover the skills you need to move from serious amateur to professional photographer
  • Learn how a snapshot differs from a casual portrait
  • Identify what you want your portrait to communicate
  • Investigate lighting equipment and how to use it in different scenarios
  • Use natural or mixed light to create unique effects
  • Explore composition, posing, and handling challenges
  • Handle props, backgrounds, color, location shooting, and studio shots
  • Work with groups, children, and pets
  • Perfect image-editing methods and final-touch processes that produce high-quality, professional images
  • Find resources that can help you in setting up your own portrait business

About the Author

Catherine Jamieson operates a small commercial and portrait photography business, keeps just ahead of two college-aged children and a pair of whacky cats, publishes one of the Internet’s most popular personal photography sites (www.catherinejamieson.com), is the founder and publisher of the community photography site Utata (www.utata.org), and recently authored the book Create Your Own Photo Blog. Catherine’s work has been published in newspapers, magazines, books, encyclopedias, and atlases, as well as upon a variety of calendars, postcards, and posters.

Sean McCormick works full-time out of his studio located just outside of Kirriemuir, Alberta, Canada, where he specializes in portraiture and landscape photography. A graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Sean is a member of the Alberta Professional Photographers Association, the Professional Photographers of Canada, and the Canadian Association for Photographic Art. Sean’s images are available for licensing exclusively through CP Images, a division of the Canadian Press. Sean’s photography is viewable online at his Web site, www.digiteyesed.com. Sean and his wife also publish an eZine focused on Canadian photography called Circle of Confusion.


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quite a helpfull book Jan. 7 2011
Format:Paperback
This was one of the better photography books I've read. It covered a lot of information but was still easy to understand. I like how it explains how all the pictures were shot including lighting details. I also appreciated that it offered step-by-step instructions rather than broad suggestions like a lot of other photography books. My only complaint is that it's a touch out of date with regards to post processing. The software it talks about is 5-6 years out of date. I would recomment this book.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking for Likeness Aug. 1 2006
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the magic world of photographers' dreams, a portrait reveals the inner person. After years of pursuing this dream, I'm happy with a good likeness. This book aims at the latter, although it acknowledges the former as a goal. It also makes it clear that good portrait photography is about lighting. Unfortunately, the book may be a little difficult to use easily.

The book is organized into four parts. After a brief introduction, the first part tells you about the equipment that you need for portrait photography, including cameras, lenses and lights. Experienced photographers will find it a bit elementary but its purpose is to give every reader an equal understanding of the tools. A meaty chapter deals with the standard lighting configuration for portraits, which is the basic model that one then modifies for most portraits.

The second part deals with composition and posing and the idea of separating the two provides a useful approach for portrait photography. The third part deals with photographing under different lighting conditions, including outdoors, existing indoor light and studio lighting. The final part deals with post-production techniques.

While I think the book covers almost everything that one needs to know to take good portraits, its structure is to provide many different tips that often seem unrelated, rather than a comprehensive framework for approaching portrait photography. While this may be due to the nature of the task, I have found other books that were not nearly as comprehensive to be more clearly organized. For example, an old favorite of mine, "Professional Secrets of Natural Light Portrait Photography" by Douglas Allen Box provided a clear approach to its more limited subject than this book.

The post production section of the book is less effective than the first three parts. In the first three parts, for example, the authors assumed the readers knew the fundamentals of exposure and provided tips on the specific problems of portrait exposure. This final part seemed mostly to deal in generalities. Portrait photography seems an ideal place for some of Photoshop's tools, like the techniques for reducing the signs of age. But this book did not contain any specifics about such techniques. The Photoshop user interested in those kinds of details will have to find the information elsewhere, like Scott Kelby's smart alecky, but useful books.

There was also a curious appendix on going into business that was much too brief to do anything but suggest that there are a lot of considerations involved in making a living from portrait photography.

I found the photographs in the book quite interesting and a possible source of inspiration. The authors are not afraid to cut off parts of the face, or shoot from unusual angles. These approaches may not always please a CEO looking for a standard shot, but they do create interesting art.

Despite its shortcomings, this book did provide me with more information than any single portrait photography book I've read.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointed Jan. 2 2007
By bj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading the description on the back cover of what I would find in the book... and then reading the book.. I was left thinking huh???? Did I miss something???

Although the book does have a few good tips, it does not deliver on what the description says it will. Many items were just glazed over. The biggest flaw was that the image samples did not match the text around them.

Although the book was fully of some cool looking images... many were taken with a ring light (you can tell this by the donut shaped catch light in the models eye). I love the look of ringflash images, but found this very disturbing and out of place in many sections. For example: when reading about main, fill & key lights, lighting ratios, backlighting, side lighting, multiple light setups, etc... then to be shown samples where none of these techniques were used. The images shown were done with a ring light. This can only lead the reader to beleive that they too can get these cool looking images with what is described in the text... and that is misleading, because they can not.

The lighting diagrams were nice, but it would have been a good thing to include actual images taken with these setups, so that the read could understand what the image would look like when using these setups.

I think the Basic Image Editing chapter was very well written with wonderful examples of what was written about. I wish the rest of the book would have been done as well as this chapter.

I loved all the cool images.. it was very refreshing to see hip new shots. Maybe they should have been in a different book though.. maybe one on taking cool images with alternative lighting.. like the ring flash.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new photography bible. Aug. 15 2006
By Kelly K. Talele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first purchased this book to show support for another Flickr member. I figured it would be a nice book about portrait photography with some nice photographs. I was pleasantly surprised when my book arrived and I realized it was a very comprehensive book on the subject of portrait photography!

I have to tell you...I think this is the best book on portrait photography and lighting that I've read to date. I have quite a few books on the subject, and I wish this one had been released sooner. Would have saved me a few bucks. :D

The book is well written and easy to understand. It has great lighting setup diagrams, and the best part is the collection of wonderful photo examples. Every other photography book out there seems to have the most out-dated photos! Most of them look like they were taken in the 80s, but these are current and just fantastic.

The book also gives SPECIFIC examples for headshots, glamour shots, and other portrait scenarios which is unbelievably helpful. It will probably become my new photography bible. LOL

Photography is a technical art form, and it's easy to get bogged down in things like apertures, shutter speeds, and lighting ratios. So many other books out there seem to "dumb down" the technical side of photography, much to my dismay, but this book is a good balance between the two. I highly recommend it to anyone out there who's interested in portrait photography.

Many thanks to Catherine and everyone else who helped out with the book! It's wonderful. :)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on portraits I've seen Oct. 12 2006
By J. Friend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've read eight different books on portrait photography and this is by far the best one. I highly recommend it for anyone from the beginner who just wants better snapshots of their kids or family to the serious amateur who wants to learn how to take pro-looking, posed portraits. The book also covers lots of useful stuff on lighting in addition to posing. What I like about this book is you can get useful and practical stuff out of it no matter how much time you have. If you spend 10 minutes paging through chapter 5 on posing, you will immediately improve your portrait composition. If you spend more time understanding different lighting options (natural and flash), you'll improve even more.

A very practical book and significantly better than all the other ones on this subject that I've read.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for... Jan. 3 2007
By Matthew L. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My photographs have improved over time to the point where I realized how poor my skills were at taking pictures of people. I looked for several books until I found this one. It seemed like it might be helpful. I was very pleased to find the book was exactly what I was looking for. It is written in a conversational style that concise but interesting. The book covers the special compositional skills required for good portraiture as well as practical guidelines to help overcome common posing challenges (such as irregular facial features). Studio lighting has always been a bit of a mystery to me. The chapter on lighting shows how to get started with a few basic studio setups and how various lighting elements interact with the subject.

The book also covers different types of portraiture, a brief overview of starting a portrait business, digital editing and even how to work with models. I would encourage anyone trying to improve their "people pictures" or who is interested in portraiture to read this book.
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