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Top Portrait Photography Books

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The number of portrait photography books available today can be very overwhelming. We’d hate for you to buy a book and then find out that its too hard to understand and doesn’t teach the subject very well. We don’t want you to waste your money.

So, in order to help save you (and other photographers) from a bad investment we decided to compile a list of the top portrait photography books. We developed this list by asking our readers to share with us their favorite portrait photography books. We thought it would be best to learn what other photographers thought about the books out there and get an honest direction for which are the best.

After numerous submissions certain books kept coming up, which eventually lead to this list. We’d like to thank all the readers that participated and took the time to share their recommendations of portrait photography books. We assure you that no matter which book you choose to buy below it will be a great investment.

Top Portrait Photography Books

  • Doug Box’s Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers
    Often overshadowed by complicated lighting techniques or advanced post-production tips, this resource seeks to remind the professional photographer of the fundamental importance of a subject’s pose. Conveniently designed in two-page spreads—a striking portrait on one side, a comprehensive how-to of the strategies used on the other—this reference includes countless techniques for studio sessions as well as outdoor and location shoots, with individuals or groups, male or female clients, and in sitting, standing, or lying poses. With advice from a well-known and respected professional, it covers all the basics, showing how to emphasize a client’s assets and downplay perceived flaws, how to create a cohesive, engaging group photo, how to use natural elements on location to enhance an image, and how to ensure that the result flatters the subject and adds the essential professional polish to an image.
  • Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide
    Photographers learn how to gauge the needs of their clients before placing them into a stale, preconceived “women’s,” “men’s,” or “children’s” pose that hardly fits the client’s personality or preferences. Provided with a two-pronged approach to fail-safe posing, photographers learn first to determine what the mood of the portrait should be and how to use an appropriate posing genre—traditional, casual, glamour, or journalistic. Photographers are then shown how that genre can be used as a basis to produce a pose that best suits the client, allowing them to create dynamic yet natural-looking pose that the subject—and the intended recipient—will love.
  • The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
    Artwork from 30 of the industry’s top photographers is used to highlight both clear-cut shooting strategies and colorful, cutting-edge approaches to family portraiture in this handbook intended for idea gathering and inspiration. Advice on focal length, perspective, and maximizing the potential of digital equipment highlights the technical aspects of family portraiture while group posing strategies demonstrate how best to flatter each subject and convey a sense of family unity. A lengthy discussion of lighting—the backbone of portraiture—and the manipulation of shadows and highlights instructs photographers on how to create mood and interest in a variety of lighting scenarios, both indoors and out. Specifics on adjusting body lines, colors, and shapes, working with young children, and creating a comfortable atmosphere ensure that the photographer captures the unique personality of each family with dynamic and attractive images.
  • 500 Poses for Photographing Brides: A Visual Sourcebook for Professional Digital Wedding Photographers
    Containing numerous contemporary images by leading photographers, this indispensable manual concerning wedding portraits explains posing fundamentals as well as how to create a flattering, feature-specific photograph—one that focuses on the head, shoulders, arms, legs, or torso—in different levels of close-ups, from head-shots to full-lengths. Since posing is the second most challenging aspect of photography and with the added complications of a wedding—from the bride’s personal style to her figure and gown—it can be very easy for a photographer to make a wrong turn. This perceptive reference provides the perfect place to turn when in need of quick posing strategies and fresh ideas.
  • 500 Poses for Photographing Men: A Visual Sourcebook for Digital Portrait Photographers
    Offering a variety of options for refining poses and spicing up portrait sessions, this visual sourcebook addresses the problems that photographers often run into when taking portraits of men, whether the pictures are for male fashion shoots, weddings, family shots, or individual portraits. For ease of use, this reference groups sample images according to how much of the subject is included in the frame—from head-and-shoulders shots to full-length portraits. Containing contemporary images from leading professionals, this indispensable manual explains posing fundamentals as well as how to offset the fears, concerns, and insecurities that men can bring to a portrait session.
  • 500 Poses for Photographing Women: A Visual Sourcebook for Portrait Photographers
    Next to lighting, posing is the most challenging aspect of photography—with so many body parts to capture, the possibilities are endless, and it’s all too easy to make a wrong turn. This illustrated reference provides both amateur shutterbugs and seasoned pros with the perfect place to turn when in need of quick posing strategies and fresh ideas. Containing 500 contemporary images by leading photographers, this indispensable manual explains posing fundamentals as well as how to create a flattering, feature-specific photograph—one that focuses on the head, shoulders, arms, torso, or feet—in different levels of close-ups, from head-shots to full-lengths.
  • On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography
    With this guidebook, photographers learn how to create stunning, professional images while avoiding the common pitfalls of using an on-camera flash. Techniques for using simple accessories—such as bounce cards and diffusers as well as how to improve a lighting scenario by enhancing it rather than overwhelming it—show photographers how to master this challenging aspect of portraiture. For wedding and environmental portrait photographers who must work in ever-changing lighting scenarios, executing these tips to evade flat, lifeless images with harsh shadows, washed-out skin tones, cavernous black backgrounds, and other unappealing visual characteristics results in not only better images, but happier clients and more sales.
  • Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
    Includes time-tested lighting strategies that will improve the quality of a portrait are detailed in this book. Equipment needed to create professional results is outlined and the unique role that each element of the lighting setup plays in the studio is explored. Photographers learn how color, direction, form, and contrast affect the final portrait. The concise text, photo examples, and lighting diagrams enable photographers to easily achieve traditional lighting styles that have been the basis of good portraiture since the advent of the art.

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