If you’re considering taking your portrait photography to the next level, consider Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait. You may have already seen the other people and portrait-related books we’ve written about previously, including Beyond Portraiture by Bryan Peterson and The Art of People Photography by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Be forewarned that Michael Grecco’s book will encourage you to spend money on lighting equipment if you don’t already own it, and should also help inspire your creativity.
Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seems to have at least three distinctive parts to it. About a third to half of the book is dedicated to illustrating lighting diagrams that Michael Grecco has used on specific shoots. Another third to half of the book are case studies and other storytelling about specific celebrity shoots Michael Grecco conducted. And in the remaining parts of the book, Michael Grecco shares his tips and perspectives on photography and lighting for various situations. If you enjoy reading about all that goes on behind-the-scenes to get the artful celebrity shots Michael Grecco is known for, along with tons of beautiful, inspirational photos, then Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is for you.
Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is highly rated on Amazon.com with 27 reviewers giving it an average of 4 stars. Most of the ratings are 5 stars, with more 3 stars than 4 stars, and one 2-star rating as of today. Most people rave about the beautiful photos and the tips, and those who gave the book fewer stars seemed to have been hoping for more instructional material in the book.
Instead of a step-by-step instruction manual, Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seems to be more of an inspirational photography book with Michael Grecco’s perspectives on shooting, and his descriptions of the challenges and obstacles overcome with each shot. The book doesn’t really have any step-by-step instructions and merely describes how the photos were achieved. To be honest, however, I can’t recall any photography book that actually has step-by-step instructions, unless it was describing software or making a craft. I think I know the reason why.
As a photographer, you’re supposed to be the creative one, instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to do. Granted, it would be helpful to learn how to achieve certain photographic looks, but there’s only so much you can learn from a 250-page book with full-page photos. For instance, you can’t learn to play basketball by reading a book. Some people even have trouble with cooking, even though cookbooks have step-by-step instructions. As with many skills, photography needs to be mastered by trial and error. Lots of it. Photography books and online materials give you the inspiration and can point you in the right direction, but they can only go so far and can’t replace actual experience. Workshops can be very useful because they’re hands-on, and I’ve heard of people getting jobs as photographers’ assistants just to learn the tricks of the trade.
At less than $20 on Amazon.com, Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait provides a great bang-per-buck return on your investment. It may not have all of the instructional details you need, but it more than makes up for it in inspirational photos and behind-the-scenes creative dialogue. It’s a beautiful book either for you or as a gift for a budding photographer you know.
Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is published by my favorite book publisher, Amphoto Books, which also publishes Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. Understanding Exposure is listed as a prize each month for the Photobird Photo Contest, but the winners actually get to choose a book. Winners may choose one of the books listed on the page at http://amphotobooks.com ; click the book covers and if “Amphoto” is listed under the ISBN number at the top, then the book is available as a prize. The following books are also available as prizes:
Enter the Photobird Photo Contest for your chance to win Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait!
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