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Studio Photography: Essential Skills [Paperback]

John Child
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Aug 2008
Studio photography is a common career path for aspiring photographers and students but the professional and commercial nature of the field makes it a challenging area to break into.

Whilst other introductory books on the subject are often bogged down with too much technical detail or too many 'show-off' shots, Studio Photography: Essential Skills offers a practical and accessible guide to the fundamental techniques for successful studio photography. Whether photographing a person or a product, you need control over the light, mood and look to arrive at the perfect result for a particular assignment. This book takes a commercial and creative approach and considers the important elements of lighting, exposure, capture, art direction and the studio setting to ensure a successful shoot.

With a clearly structured learning approach and a wide variety of activities and assignments to inspire and engage you, this is an informative, stimulating guide to the basics. Broaden your skills and increase your earning potential with Studio Photography: Essential Skills!

Frequently Bought Together

Studio Photography: Essential Skills + Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image (Voices That Matter)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 4 edition (18 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240520963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240520964
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 15.2 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

John Child lectures in photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia - the leading photography course in the southern hemisphere. He has worked for many years as a professional photographer, with clients including Ford, Singapore Airlines, American Express and British Airways.
John Child lectures in photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia - the leading photography course in the southern hemisphere. He has worked for many years as a professional photographer, with clients including Ford, Singapore Airlines, American Express and British Airways.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
2.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing 26 Dec 2008
While reading this book I had mixed feelings. Sometimes it says something interesting, sometimes it is just dull. Sometimes it looks it does not follow a clear path, some topics looks scattered here and there. Sometimes it teaches by explaining, sometimes it teaches by example. Sometimes it just explains very basic topics like aperture or depth of field you'd expect someone approaching studio phtography should already know. Sometimes it just touch a topic (i.e. the different types of lights and reflectors available), sometimes it explains which exact key you have to press in Photoshop (chapter 14).
Many images are scattered around the book, with no explanation at all why they are there and without any hint about how they were shot.
Also, some of the material in this book is already present in other books of the "Essential Skills" serie - it would have been better to make each book building on the the other ones without overlappings.
Don't buy this book if you are looking for a set of studio recipes, or a deep explanation of studio techniques. If you're a beginner, it could be a decent introduction, but it will leave you with a sense of "something is missing".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great start! 10 May 2010
As one of the previous reviewers has mentioned, there are some irregularities in this book: photos with no explanations, moments of being broad talking about the diffence between light sources and reflectors, and then moments of very specific product-based talk (keys in photoshop, for example).

The photos thing is annoying as I'd love to know how some of them were achieved. On the other hand the product based talk I actually really appreciate; it annoys me when these books cover photo editing without being honest and saying 'in photoshop use the layers feature' and instead saying 'some packages allow you to create multiple layers in one image' as if anyone in their right mind would be using anything except photoshop. Industry standard means exactly that. If you want to use some nonsense software that has no cross-compatibility then fair enough, but if you are just starting out (which you would be if you were to need help on creating layers) why make the choice to be different without any reason beyond that? (I'm not being a Photoshop fanboi, it's a simple fact that noone learns to drive a car with paddle-shift, so why learn anything else that way?)

On the whole the structure of the book is nice; you need some photographic know-how, but it's included assignments should bring you up to speed if you're struggling conceptually. It's a really nice (and CHEAP!) alternative to expensive photography courses or spending years fumbling around in the dark (often literally, in the case of studio photography).

This book should be seen as a starting point though; you cannot expect to read it's 150 pages (could be condensed to 30 not including pictures) complete the assignments and then have all the know-how on studio photography.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't get it 2 Mar 2011
By Phil
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While this book covers some useful technical information, there is absolutely no details given for the images shown.
What is the point of showing images in a book and not giving information on how to shoot them.
A totally pointless book which will go into the bin
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing I could use 10 April 2011
By Mike L
I tried reading it a few times but It gave me nothing.

8 Yrs of photography experience
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please, DO NOT Use as a Textbook for ANY Class 30 Jan 2012
By Albert Stichka - Published on
Studio Photography, John Child, Focal Press, the textbook for my Light and Lighting class, is the single worst book I have ever read on the subject of photography. It is poorly written, poorly researched, and poorly executed. Most photography books fall into or contain elements from three categories: technical information, personal experience, and creative inspiration. This book fails to deliver in any meaningful way in any of those categories.

The use of technical language is sloppy and at times misleading.

The lessons presented are meant to be followed precisely, but the example photographs are imprecise creative interpretations - giving no technical, accurate means to compare one's work to what is expected.

The content of the book is artificially padded by frequent repetition of definitions and descriptions used in previous chapters.

The suggested exercises tend to resemble busy work and leave the task of actually interpreting concepts and results to the student with little guidance or reference.

The text claims to be presenting general concepts which the student photographer can use to apply to a variety of equipment and situations. What it actually does is describe the specific use of specific equipment in specific ways to reproduce an example scenario.

This book, which claims to be a textbook for studio lighting, fails to ever define, describe, mention the importance of, or even provide practical information for the handling of the following CRITICAL principles of studio photography:

The distinction between direct, diffused, and specular highlights.

The principle of the family of angles of reflectance.

The principle of how surface material and color impact the nature of reflection.

The principle of how reflector material impacts its efficiency, color, and the nature of its reflected light.

Grids. Seriously. Grids are never mentioned even once in this book. Neither are snoots. No means of increasing directionality of a light is covered in this book other than casual mention of barn doors (and presumption that the student has access to the use of barn doors) and the use of a spotlight with an adjustable lens.



The nature of metal, glass, and plastic. There is one practical example of managing specular reflection in metal but it is never explained - the student is simply directed to follow particular steps and is never told why. Managing the process of photographing glass is never covered in any meaningful way, despite it being a hugely popular subject.

Bloom. The student is frequently encouraged to "overexpose" surfaces to achieve the color white, but the subject of bloom and flare are never mentioned as a concern in this technique.

Gobos/Flags. A few assignments describe the use of these tools as part of following the specific instructions for that lesson, but throughout the book the student is simply told to "check for flare" or "move the light".

Negative fill is never mentioned and never utilized.

These are all just the things I found missing from the book off the top of my head. An exhaustive, critical analysis of what is wrong with this book would have to be nearly as long as the book itself. There is something either incorrect, misleading, poorly executed, or missing on nearly every page. The small section devoted to the concept of high key portraiture may as well have suggested the student shine a flashlight into the camera just to get more overexposed regions.

The actual, useful technical information in this book - the actual impact this book would have on improving a student photographer's grasp of light or studio techniques - would probably be equivalent to tearing five pages at random out of the book Light, Science & Magic, and telling the student photographer to just figure the rest out through practice.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lighting skills for the thinking photographer 21 July 2009
By Abjet - Published on
A key fact that separates this book from others is the fact that it requires you to *think* (gasp!!). If you're looking for quick-fix lighting solutions, for the kettle you want to sell on eBay, with some lighting diagrams and sketchy descriptions, this book may not be ideal for you.

On the other hand, if you're looking for insights into how to problem solve in a lighting situation (whether for product shots or portraits) and skills you can carry with you, this is the book you've been searching for.

John breaks down complex lighting problems into a set of tractable challenges, then proceeds to share the core skills that go into creating the mind-blowing imagery we see in product campaigns.

This book is the required text in the BA Commercial Photography program at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). The students from this course have gone on to be some of Australia's (and the World's) best commercial photographers. And guess what? They've all been learning from this book. All the "show-case" images used throughout the book (including the cover) are created by students studying this course and following this book.

John is an award winning photographer and advertising film maker. His approach to teaching is simple yet engaging and encourages the reader to think.

In summary, there are no quick-fix-ready-mix approaches to lighting. This book equips the intrepid photographer with the skills to set their creativity free. It builds on skills step-by-step to help the photographer develop a repertoire of skills that will prove invaluable in any shoot-situation.

I am a final year student of this program and have learnt everything I know about lighting from this book. My work can be viewed at: [..]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is O.K. I have seen better Rivchin 15 Mar 2010
By Ron Rivchin - Published on
I found this book to be basic. I recommend a book a fantastic chicago studio photographer lent me Christopher Grey's Studio Lighting Techniques for Photography: Tricks of the Trade for Professional Digital Photographers rivchin
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money 3 July 2011
By Floyd Hendry - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are a host of better written & more useful reference books out there. Was a required purchase for a studio class - money down the drain.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Required textbook 19 Feb 2011
By Jo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Required textbook for my college Studio Photography class. If I had purchased the book alone, I would not have got much out of it, but using it along with the class it was a little helpful. It touches on the basics of lighting and studio equipment that you will need to be familiar with to do studio photography. Was it a fantastic book, no-but was it helpful, yes. Since this was my first Studio Photography class I am not sure what other textbooks are available so this worked just fine for me as a beginner. It is very easy reading and helpful to understand the use of the light meter, filters, different lens,different sources of light, reflections etc. I am sure there are better books and I will find them and read them also- because more information is always good. The dude that said don't waste your time on books and classes, just buy expensive equipment and shoot. Maybe that worked for him-but not good advise for everyone. I did that and I ended up wasting two years that I could have had much better photographs had I taken classes instead of doing the trial and error thing on my own.
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