A friend of mine recently had an impromptu family reunion photo shoot come up. Her background, like mine, is traditionally more of an artistic type of photography. She indicated that she had trouble switching to photographer from artist and wanted to know how I managed it.
I picked up Bryan Peterson’s “Beyond Portraiture”, not because it was written by Bryan (that alone would have been a good reason), but because I have been looking for help on some specific things where portrait photography is concerned. I didn’t really find what I was looking for, but as with all of his books, I did get a lot of helpful insight into making better photographs.
Before I get to what it was I was looking for, I want to tell you what this book does bring. Aside from what you would come to expect (discussions on lighting and exposure), the author starts off by getting you comfortable with talking to people, helping them to understand what you are trying to achieve, and making them into willing participants. For someone like me, this was a very valuable section. From there, the book moves into considerations in actually working with people, and the different types of people you might encounter. Some example of corporate report types of work are included in the book, which I found interesting given how much I follow the work of notable Colorado-based photographer David Tejada.
After the sections on dealing with people, the book then moved into a discussion about light (and I think Bryan is a master at this). From there we get an in-depth look at composition. This was particularly useful, as composition considerations are definitely different for people than they are for landscapes, etc.
The last section was perhaps one of the most useful for me, covering different techniques to digitally edit photos. As long as I have been using Photoshop (since 1995), you would think that I would know a lot more than I do. But for me it has always been a tool for editing web images. I have always known the power that Photoshop has, but never taken the time to learn more about it. The edits that Bryan presents are relatively simple and could be immensely useful if you don’t already know them.
All in all, I highly recommend this book. It didn’t have “posing” information that I have been looking for, but I got far more out of this book than that one subject is worth. Pretty sure I can find that info somewhere else.
With this photography thing, I sometimes I feel like I am cramming a lifetime of learning into as small an amount of time as possible. But I am learning, which is always a good thing to do. I hope you are continuing to learn as well.