New to Portraits? Here's a Book Just for You!

posted on 16th of may, 2008

© Looby (Help)
Portraits... I'm confident that as long as there is a shutter button it will be clicked for the sake of recording the moment of a person's life and yet another new portrait will be born. People simply love looking at people. :)

It comes to no surprise that the majority of best seller stock images are also of people. Yet, what do you do if people just aren't your thing, but you'd love to learn how to photograph them in a way which they will love, you will like, and others will remember for a long time...? Well, call me old-minded, but I'd go to the bookstore. I've written blogs on two landscape books, which have been very helpful (and still are - even after the n-th reading). This time it's about a portrait book, which is called The Portrait Photographer's Guide to Posing, by Bill Hurter (See it on

It clearly is a beginner to intermediate level. But few of the pro's will actually be reading my article, so I take that if you've gotten that far the book will most likely suit you and teach you something new and fresh.

So, what's in it... I got the 2004 edition (so far the only one, I believe), which offers a well chosen set of high-quality example photos. These samples do cover a vast variety of situations (although wedding seems to be dominant) and environments, as well as a complete set of older and modern style portraits. Some of the books out there will teach you on and show you mainly portrait styles which are becoming obsolete by now. Yet, the author has done his homework and picked out really creative material.

what I totally loved about this book is the brief-to-none attention on technical particularities, such as studio lighting, camera equipment, etc. etc. Some is mentioned here and there and it is useful. Yet, it's a book on portraits, not a studio kit manual. So, it takes a very well described look at personal features, communication with the model(s), techniques for correcting physical features through posing... It's the stuff you won't remember word-for-word, but you will soon internalize and start applying on your shoots.

The book is written in a language that's very easy to understand so if English isn't your mother tongue - it won't be a big hassle to read it (yet - check the Amazon preview function to make sure). One more thing I really liked about this book is that it takes comments from the photographers whose work is used as examples - they share their techniques in working with the model(s) and so on. This makes it possible to read about more than one stand point on a given issue, which is just great if you're trying to find out where you stand.

Bottom line - a must-have book for those of you who want to start with more people shots but have little experience. This book will get you started well on how to pose people and let them be as natural as it gets. Now I'm on the look for a book which will complement to what this one already taught me.

If you have read a book on portraiture in photography and found it useful - please, leave a comment so more of us can check it out.

Comments (3)

Posted by Bradcalkins on May 27, 2008
Thanks for the review. One of my favourite books is the Michael Grecco book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait. It is organized with examples from his portoflio and some of the back story. Great review on the strobist website:
Posted by Lymeng on May 19, 2008
Thangk you for your advice!
Posted by Mikoo on May 19, 2008
good job~!!!!!

This article has been read 2012 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Liv Friis-larsen, Eric Limon, Miroslav Ferkuniak.

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