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Review Forget Mugshots by David Duchemin

A new eBook in the Craft & Vision line up by author David Duchemin called Forget Mugshots – 10 Steps to Better Portraits

I pretty much read everything David writes. I have all of his print books and most of his eBooks on Craft and Vision. I really relate to the way he writes, how he photographs, and his general philosophy on life. In this short review hopefully I can give you an idea of whether this ebook is for you and perhaps you'll want to read more of David's books after reading it. I highly recommend it and another other of his works!

First of all, why you want to buy Forget Mugshots:

  • If you are interested in photographing people in any way, including taking portraits of your family and friends, or photos of interesting people in foreign lands, this book is for you
  • You've been doing a few portraits but want to get some tips to take it to the next level and aren't sure how to do that. This book can probably help.
  • You want to go deeper and make more meaningful portraits of your subjects.
  • Because you are a photographer that loves all the information you can get, and you soak it up like a sponge.
  • You want to be inspired. The sample images in this book will do more than that, they'll likely blow you away!

A snapshot is a photograph of something, but a portrait is a photograph about something, or someone. It says more than, this is what Albert Einstein looks like; it dares to say, this is what Albert Einstein is like.

David Duchemin

Why buy Forget Mugshots and not others on this subject:

  • Perhaps you've read books or taken classes on traditional portrait photography and want a bit more editorial view on how to photograph people. David's portraits are anything but boring, static, overly posed photos. His subjects are alive, and you can see the interaction they have with him and the camera. Read and learn how!
  • You're a bit stuck and could use some creative exercises to get you going again. There's some great ideas to do just that in this book.
  • You want to learn from one of the best, a leader in the industry – that's David Duchemin!
  • Because for heavens sake it's only $5, how can you not get it?

What topics does this book cover:

As the title suggests this book covers ten tips that you can start using now to improve your portrait photography. I'm not going to list all ten, you'll have to buy the book to read them all but here's an overview of some of the topics:
  • Two great skills which seem to have nothing to with taking photos, but in fact have everything to do with creating great photos! Patience (waiting for the right moment) and the art of how to relate to people. Two chapters are dedicated to these subjects.
  • Using and playing with light. He talks about how he uses a light disk or reflector in different ways to create stunning results showing the setup and resulting image. Duchemin prefers and uses mostly available light. If you want to know more about using flash – check out my review on another Craft & Vision title: Making Light an Introduction to Off-camera Flash.
  • Watching and controlling the background, something we often forget when we're in a hurry or get a cool subject in front of our camera. Slow down and look closer.
  • David's thoughts on posing your subject and how to let them pose themselves naturally.
  • 10 creative exercises for you to try out each of the ten tips individually and then put it all together.
  • Seven finished portrait profile examples where David talks about the making of the image, using the relevant tip and the technical data for the image (f-stop, ISO, etc) for those of you that have to know. These are in addition to the images shown with the tips.

“Remember, there’s no good light or bad light, just light that does or does not work for what you have in mind.” – Duchemin on finding the “right” light.

As a photographer who's done portraits for many years I can tell you these are great tips and things I use myself on every photo session. I'll give you a couple stories of my own on how I've used these tips to create great portraits for my clients and in my travels.

Relating to your subject

Years ago I had a mom call me at my studio to ask about photographing her daughter who was about 2 at the time. She had already had free photos done somewhere else but she didn't buy any because she really wasn't happy with them. Her little girl is very shy and her personality really didn't come out in the images. I assured her that even though my session was $150 I would happily give her the money back if she didn't find a single image she liked. I told her to bring the little girl in for a meeting first so I could meet them both, which she did. I sat and had tea with the mom while the girl colored in the antique desk we had in our studio. When it came time for the session I wasn't a stranger, I was the lady that let her color. I always tell the parents NOT to say “we are going to a photography session and you have to be good and smile” – that is the worst thing they can do. It sets the child up for failure if they don't please mom. Instead I suggest they say “we are going to the studio to have some fun”. That's it!

It took me over an hour to get this little girl to come around and actually look at me and the camera. The first 30 minutes we just colored on the floor on the backdrop, and played peek-a-boo until gradually I moved behind the camera. I built a trust with her the other photographer and studio didn't bother to do, and the images we got were amazing (sorry I don't have them to show you, were on film in those days). The ecstatic mom ended up with a large portrait for her wall, and an album of her favorites. Taking the time to relate to people and build trust, no matter what age or language, pays off big time!

Another example of relating, and getting in to places you might not otherwise be invited is from a trip I did to Turkey in 2011. My tour group was in learning about pottery and buying stuff, something I just was not interested in doing at all. So I wandered up the little alley in this town in the Capadocia region. I saw this boy (see photo above) that was playing in his yard and after a few minutes he was bringing out his school books to show me how he's learning English. I photographed him, his sister and the old grandmother, who spoke zero English but fully approved. When I left I gave the kids Canadian flags and he ripped out a drawing out of his art book and gave it to me. To me that was way more valuable than a bowl or piece of pottery and memories and images like this are what I want to bring back from my travels!

Not the greatest lighting here but I love how proud he looks with the little flag

Summary

Do I recommend this book – yes! Just go to the Craft & Vision site and buy it now! How's that for a fast, to the point summary?

A few more links for you to read and see more

See more of my people photography

Buy the entire whole set of eBooks from Craft & Vision (save 30%)

Buy David's print books – first four on my recommended list.

Addendum to answer some questions raised by the eBook Forget Mugshots

 


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