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50 Portraits by Gregory Heisler

I first learned about Gregory ( @heislerhimself ) via David ( @strobist ) and then I had a chance to see him in person at a workshop in London.

And then I absolutely had to get his book. I love the book. It offers a glimpse into how Gregory has worked over the years. Anecdotes about photo-shoots, client interactions and some insight into how he thinks.

The book is not a manual on how to make photographs. Rather it’s like a journal. The left-side page has a photo and the right side facing page has an introduction on how that shot was made and what the photographer was thinking.

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As a photographer, I’ve always been more interested in finding out how other photographers think. Especially those who have been around much longer than I have. And this book is right on the money as far as that question of mine goes. There’s no fluff in this book and it might leave some of you wanting more. I surely felt it wasn’t enough – I want more.

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“The sitter has fears. The photographer has hopes. The sitter has anxieties; the photographer as ambitions. There is always a silent negotiation, a push and pull. the sitter doesn’t want to face reality; for the photographer, that’s all there is. Both contribute to the portrait, but only one – the photographer – knows what it will actually look like.” Oh my GOD. Goose bumps each time I read those words!

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“One of the keys to lighting isn’t what you light but what you don’t light.”

Yes there are some “Thoughts on Technique”, which is why I believe this is how most photography books should be like. But most aren’t. Which is why, when you find something like this, you get it.

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If you can’t buy the book, borrow it. Read it. I wanted it because it’s a keeper. I go back to it once in a while. I enjoy reading the words and looking at the pictures. 50 Portraits by Gregory Heisler

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