Whether you are a seasoned or aspiring photographer, or a fan of great photography, this book is absolutely engaging. A first pass through this book quickly reveals a truly awesome series of photographs with some truly great accompanying anecdotes. Subsequent visits reveal more and more detail, both technically and artistically, helping to make this one of my favorite books of all time.
Portrait photography can be a daunting genre to take on, with so many factors at play that can affect the outcome of the captured images. Composition, lighting and surroundings all factor into the results. Being able to access great insight and guidance in the field can make the difference between good photography and great photography.
Mitchell Kanashkevich documents and shares the complete process involved in going about capturing this series of award-winning and featured imagery. Each image is carefully displayed, and then discussed in detail in accompanying sub-sections, revealing all the details and nuances that went into making them. No question is left unanswered, no detail left out.
We start with the photograph in question, immediately followed by a sub-section “Background info”. This tells the story of the subject and photograph in detail, and when combined with the photograph help to paint a detailed picture for the reader. These two elements on their own combine to create a truly compelling and captivating book that is guaranteed to engage everyone.
The next sub-section concerns the “Objectives” of the photograph. This is an important section which shows how a plan and being prepared can help the photographer focus on the task at hand, to produce great imagery. Being able to get into the mind of the photographer at this level is both highly informative as well as having the effect of demystifying the entire process.
From here, Mitchell carries on to discuss the “Light” and the inherent challenges found at location. I am pretty much exclusively a natural light photographer, and this section is one of my favorites in the book. There is no doubt I’ll be returning time and time again to refer to these notes as I work on my craft, as the tips, tricks and insights shared here are second to none.
The next sub-sections “Moment and Pose” and “Composition” discuss the humanistic and technical challenges of this style of photography. More of the behind the scenes story is revealed here, helping to create a strong overall sense of what Mitchell was thinking and feeling as he went about his project. A highly dynamic environment like the one he had to work in creates its own challenges and benefits, and being ready for these can help make the difference between good imagery and breathtaking photography.
Mitchell then shares some insight into the “Biggest challenge” and “How I managed it”, further revealing intricate details and important facts about the work produced. Once again, we find ourselves immersed in the world that he was documenting, with really great anecdotal details on how the image was produced. The sidebar “Quick Tips” in this section synoptically discusses the highlights of the shot, in one easy to find and read area in the book. This is an area I will be referring to often over the coming years.
And finally, we find ourselves in the last sub-section of each image titled “The “what” and the “why” of post processing”, which shares in fairly granular detail how and why Mitchell went about his post-processing. Much about the efforts that go into great photography AFTER the shutter is clicked are discussed here, rounding out the images and thoughts provided in the book.
This book is absolutely wonderful on several different levels. Mitchell has shared with us a look into his inner-workings, as well as an in-depth study of a part of the world not often photographed in a broader sense. I found myself at times absolutely mesmerized by the photographs and the wonderful details they contain within, followed by a period of complete immersion in the technical sections. I know for certain, I will be returning to this book often as the years go past, both as a form of entertainment as well as a source of inspiration and knowledge.
Two things are certain after reading this great book. One being that I would love to see more of Mitchell’s work. Secondly, we’ve got a great reference book here complete with technical details that will be the source of much education as we travel and adventure working on our own photography. We give this book two flippers up here at The Hollow and strongly recommend this to everyone who loves great imagery, whether you are a producer or a viewer of this art-form.