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The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography Paperback – 7 Jan 2010
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About the Author
Glenn Rand is an artist with internationally acceptance. His photographs are in the collections of more than two dozen museums and public collection in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Included are the Detroit Institute of Art and the Kresge Art Center. He has also exhibited widely throughout the United States.
Glenn has published and lectured extensively about photography and digital imaging ranging from commercial aesthetics to the technical fine points of black and white photography. Books written include Black and White Photography and Digital Photographic Capture.
Presently, Dr. Rand is the program director of the graduate program at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California.
Photographer, educator, and author Tim Meyer is passionate about the field of photography. Throughout his 30 years as a professional photographer and in numerous one-man exhibitions, Tim's photography has been internationally recognized for its innovative style and technique. He possesses the Professional Photographers of America's coveted Masters and Craftsman degrees and holds a Master of Arts degree in Fine Art Photography. Tim currently serves as the Portrait Division Chair at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, while maintaining a commission-based portrait and wedding business and lecturing internationally. His writings on photography and art have been widely published, and he is a contributing editor to Rangefinder Magazine.
Top customer reviews
The book opens with a chapter on the history of photographic portaiture - though it actually starts with paintings. Following this you get a full seven chapters on various aspects of lighting from lighting dynamics and sources through to how the various planes of the face can be lit. There is also a lot of technical detail on different lighting setups from single source to full scale multi-source setups. The lighting chapters are rounded out with information on backgrounds, posing and composition. The final two chapters are as much about the subject as the photographic process, focusing on analysing the face and building a rapport with the subject.
It's very much a matter of taste but I was very happy to see that the authors hadn't added the how to use photoshop chapter which seems to crop up in nearly every other photography book. If I want a book on photoshop I'll buy a book on photoshop, I don't want half of my shiny new photography book given over to the same basics of photoshop that I've read a dozen times before. As you can tell It's a bit of a bugbear!
Now downsides - the writing style is rather dry and takes a bit of work to get through and personally I didn't find the sample photographs very inspiring as I find them rather old fashioned looking. These negatives aside I think that The Portrait - Understanding Portrait Photography would be an excellent addition to any at least semi-serious photographer though is probably overkill for the weekend snapper.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In many occasions there are some descriptive terms for some tools without any diagrams or pictures explaining the tools or other things, and there a lot (a lot not all) of portrait images with no caption except of the photographer, frankly I didn't know what to study and understand precisely from these photos. There are other photos however with some explanations.
The book does explain the basics however, but you might have to cope with it and reading it slowly (might useful to keep some notes or stick-it notes to put some remarks). The book at the end includes some tips for the portrait photographer when it comes to attitude and relations with clients, but it's not a large portion of the book, only few pages.
After all, it is a good book and can be kept as a reference, but surely it can use more diagrams and less words.
There is a real problem in the world of photography references and technique guides - many books discuss too much information and therefore discuss no one topic thoroughly, and many photographers are privileged enough to right books because they have a strong portfolio but they are not good writers.
Rand and Meyer's "The Portrait" is a photography technique book worth buying because it is a book worth reading - twice. Twice, because it is so filled with information and because it is written with fairly precise language.
Although this is a technique book the language used in it is very thoughtful too, here is an example "Photography is a powerful language. However, the strength of the language has no meaning if you have nothing to say" (pg. 157). Now, that is a well known fact in professional portraiture but it is written fairly well. And again and again in this book well known facts among professional portrait photographers are explained here in a very clear manner.
This book is tailored primarily toward digital photographers but Rand and Meyers go out of their way occasionally to discuss film (since much good work is still done with film).
Unlike most photography technique books, Rand and Meyer go out of their way to place these techniques in their historical context.
Most authors of photography technique books use only their own portfolio as examples in their books. But Rand and Meyers have gone out of their way to include famous photographs worth reviewing for inspiration (like the Marilyn Monroe images on pg. 16 or the profile of Twiggy by Douglas Kirkland on pg. 144).
Just as David duChemin'sWithin the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision is the best contemporary book on travel photography so too is Rand and Meyer's "The Portrait" the best contemporary book on portrait photography.
The book is well written and well organized. Technical information as well as the "soft skills" of portraiture are discussed at level accessible to all and are presented in logical fashion. Rand and Meyer introduce Light Dynamics, which includes both "the physical realities of light and its effects on the subject," to explain lighting in portraiture. In discussing posing--how photographers work with the subject--the authors address the aesthetic considerations used in creating a meaningful portrait.
Although described as a textbook, the book doesn't sound like textbook.
Finally, the richness and variety of images and how well those images complement the text is just an unexpected bonus.