I love a good book. I especially love a good photography book, and I recently came across one that, to me, is a great one. I love all types of photography, but I'm especially passionate about photographing people. So when I saw David Hobby's (The Strobist) review of 50 Portraits, I knew I had to give myself an early Christmas present.
I have not been disappointed. Gregory Heisler is one of the great portrait photographers of our time, and learning from him is a special delight. Each portrait comes with a story about the subject, how it was set up, what the technical issues were, and Heisler's own thoughts about the process. It's like getting inside the head of a master photographer during his creative process. I HIGHLY recommend it to my fellow people photographers!
There is one passage in the book that I especially like, because I think it describes so well what we people photographers experience during a session. Here is what Heisler says:
"Many decisions and judgements had to somehow still get made. Which lens to use? Where to put the camera? How high? Just how much will be in focus? What needs to be really sharp and what merely needs to be seen, its presence felt? What's the background? Where's the light coming from? Do I want to modify it? Add to it? Where should my subject be, sitting or standing? On what? How should he pose? Where should his hands be, and what are they doing? Where will he be looking? With what expression? What will he be wearing? Do I have a choice? And on and on. Then there's the technical toolbox. What's my ISO? What shutter speed do I need? Which lights should I use? And where do they go? These are all the same decisions and judgement calls that go into every portrait...... And while this deafening din of background blather is bouncing around inside my head, somehow I'm supposed to engage in witty repartee with the subject, attuned to the subtlest nuances of expression and gesture. I tell you, it's tough. But it's really fun.
That final line...."But it's really fun." I think my photographer friends would agree, while we can empathize with everything the author is saying, that final line is the most important part of the whole quote...........