Wednesday , February 21 2024
A great introduction to the concept of creating portraits and shooting people.

Book Review: Photo Workshop – Portrait and Candid Photography by Erin Manning

Creating portraits is a combination of skill and technique. It is also about connecting with your subjects. By learning how to observe and understand those you are working with you will get a feel for who they are, and how best to present them in a personal light. Learning to find out what interests you about your subject will allow you to better capture their personality.

It also takes time to learn the creative techniques of composing your images by experimentation, and through the capturing a lot of images; by learning how to tell a story with your image. Portrait and Candid Photography is 272 pages divided into 10 chapters.

Chapter 1, "What You Must Know About Photographing People," begins by showing you how to observe and connect with people. Here you will learn how to compose your images, to see what your eyes see, and learn about working with light in general. Then you will explore the kinds of equipment cameras, lenses, and equipment you will need. Chapter 2, "Accessory Equipment," will now take you into more detail with equipment such as additional lenses, batteries, tripods, flashes, and other odds and ends.

Chapter 3, "Working with Light," will get into more detail about working with light by exploring the quality, direction, intensity, and color of light. Then you will see how to reflect light, defuse light, work with a flash, and work with a meter for exposure. Chapter 4, "Composing your Picture," examines the basics of composition. This includes working with colors, framing your image, using patterns, using perspective, focus, and point of view.

Chapter 5, "Taking Portraits," will have you creating the look that you want by choosing the correct background, adding props, and adjusting wardrobe. You will see how best to take advantage of light, see how best to work with your subject by experimenting with position, changing points of view, and even how to capture candid moments. Chapter 6, "Families, Groups, and Parties," begins by showing you how to prepare for the shoot. Again you need to know the location, the people, the lighting, but it is just as important to anticipate surprises.

Chapter 7, "Kids," provide a unique test because they can be unpredictable, but here you learn about the different ages and stages that come with them. You have to keep it real, but yet get them involved to get the best shots. Chapter 8, "Babies," require timing and being prepared. You have to create the right environment to get the best shots. Here you will see how to prepare the site so that you can capture the moment and make it meaningful.

Chapter 9, "Action Shots," takes you in a different direction in that this, many times is all about lens speed and timing. It is about freezing the action with techniques like using fast shutter with flash, and about blurring action by using slow shutter with a tripod. Chapter 10, "Enhancing and Sharing your Photos," examines how to manage your images by using various software products, how to enhance and repair your images, and finally how to share your images via slide shows, email, websites, and printing.

Aimed at the beginner user, Photo Workshop: Portrait and Candid Photography is very easy reading, and develops through a well defined, logical progression covering most aspects of shooting portraits on a casual basis. Not being aimed at the professional, it does not try to tackle too much like lighting layouts and other more complex discussions.

While I wish that it went a little further in explanations of the relationship of ISO, shutter speeds, and aperture, it does a very good job of presenting the fundamentals. Additional things I like about Portrait and Candid Photography and the series in general is that most of the photos have an "about this photo" caption where, when appropriate, the technical information is presented about the image.

The other thing is the lessons and exercises that give you an opportunity to interact with the book. Portrait and Candid Photography provides a great overview of portrait photography and the subject in general. If you are a beginner or getting back into it and want a good refresher course, then Portrait and Candid Photography will fit the bill.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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