My new book Creative Portraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques is now available. This is a book about portrait photography techniques with a somewhat different slant. It’s not just about lighting and pretty models (although there is nothing wrong with those!). It covers the gamut from candid photos at birthday parties to street photography to glamour and fashion. One of my special interests in the book is the psychology of portraiture—both from the viewpoint of the photographer and the subject.
From the introduction to Creative Portraits:
To what extent is a photographic portrait “real”? Does the portrait represent the subject fairly and accurately? Put another way, do you know something that is true about the subject after looking at the portrait?
These are excellent questions. If you are not involved in the serious pursuit of making photographs, you’re likely to assume that there is a correlation between the photo and the reality of the subject, and that you’ve learned something about someone by looking at their portrait. But as photographers, we know that many photographic portraits are superficial and plastic—and highly subject to manipulation.
The truth of a portrait depends upon the insight and integrity of the photographer, the honesty of the subject, and the photographic and digital techniques and manipulations used. Not all photographic portraits are intended to be truthful, nor should they be. For example, if you are hunting for a job, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting “your best foot forward” by using an overtly flattering professional head shot.
My point is that in portrait photography it is crucial to be aware of your intentions and goals. A glamour session in the studio is a very different affair from a gritty portrait that attempts to reveal the truth about a complex personality, warts and all. Also, unlike most other kinds of photography, great portraiture requires collaboration with your subject. If you are taking a photo of a blade of grass or a railroad station, you don’t really care what the plant or the building thinks of you. But if you are photographing a person, your relationship with the person—their life experiences, how they feel about photography, and what they think of you—plays an important role in the process of photography.
Speaking of intentions and goals, Creative Portraits is unlike other portrait photography books you may have seen. My assumption is that you are seriously interested in photography—or you probably wouldn’t have picked up this book. But this isn’t primarily a treatise about studio portrait techniques. Instead, Creative Portraits aims squarely at the heart and soul of portrait photography, which is what most of us really care about: how do we create meaningful, interesting, and compelling portraits of our friends, family, and kids.
From the back cover of Creative Portraits:
This book aims squarely at the heart and soul of portrait photography and shows you how to create meaningful and compelling images. Each photo is taken from Davis’s personal collection and is accompanied by an explanation of how and why he made it. Composition, lighting, exposure, and camera technique are all discussed, taking you beyond the basics.
Still, the best way to craft memorable, lively, and stunning portraits is sometimes to break the rules. Davis also demonstrates how to do this in a way that is both informative and inspiring. He encourages you to define and develop your own photographic style by shooting creative, unique images. You’ll be moved to try new techniques, empowering you to truly define someone with a photograph.
- Capture emotion to create a compelling image
- Learn about clothing, hair, and make-up
- Choose the right lens and shutter speed
- Utilize the best lighting techniques
- Have fun photographing kids
- Retouch your images and add special effects