Craft & Vision just released their latest photography ebook, titled Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits. When I heard the topic of this book I was curious what approach would be used by author David duChemin, and I was pleased to see how it turned out. He walks the reader through a series of ten steps for portraiture, although they’re not really steps. I might’ve called them considerations, as they all should be considered when making a portrait. Here’s my review of an advance copy of the ebook; read on for my thoughts (and some discount codes at the end of the review).
Material and Organization
After a brief introduction, duChemin moves into the first of the ten considerations for portraiture. Gearheads will be puzzled while experienced photographers will nod knowingly as the first consideration doesn’t have anything to do with cameras, light, or posing at all. He starts by talking about relationships: how a photographer can best relate to his or her subject. After explaining why that relationship is important, the author explores how to build rapport with a subject in order to make better pictures.
Like most of the Craft & Vision books, the book is presented with each “page” being a double-page spread. Moving onto the other considerations, each one follows a similar structure: there are two or three pages of information, an example of a portrait that relates to the topic of the chapter, and then a creative exercise for the reader. I was impressed by the exercises. Often in photography books we see the same cliché examples that apply primarily to beginners, but duChemin suggests creative exercises which can improve the portrait abilities of both beginners and more experienced shooters alike.
An entire chapter is devoted to the smile – a key element of many portraits but also, as noted by the author, not necessary (and sometimes inappropriate). After looking at the science and physiology of how a smile actually happens, readers are shown how to use that knowledge to create more interesting images. After the smile, the eyes receive a similar analysis in a subsequent chapter.
Thoughts and Recommendation
I’m happy with this book. While beginners likely can learn the most, even intermediate photographers will learn a ton from the various creative excercises that accompany the topics. Like the other Craft & Vision ebooks, the regular price on this book is only $5, which should make it a must-have purchase for anyone that creates people pictures.