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How to Photograph People by Demetrius Fordham

Obregon Obregon

Is from: New York City, US
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Obregon Moderator Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Charter Member
Mon 04-Apr-22 03:06 PM
I felt something was wrong with this book, almost from the start. Then I realized it was a problem beyond photography. It was the book’s taxonomy.

I don’t often wax scientifically or philosophically. Yet I recognize that we categorize ideas (as well as species) so that we can better understand them. Basically this book created a taxonomy without a purpose.

Most of the main chapter is divided into describing types of portraiture. Section headings for that chapter include, for example, studio portraits, environmental portraits, bodies, and action. Yet, there is nothing in each section to really distinguish one type from another, and to make the so-called distinctions useful in portrait photography. Fordham regularly tells us that it is important to communicate with the subject. He doesn’t establish how. He says that lighting is important, but he doesn’t really us anything about lighting, except to say he likes the look of northern window light. He talks about how he finds inspiration, like reading, but while the books he cites are interesting, I didn’t find them inspiring for the portrait photographer. I’m still wondering how to derive inspiration from Holden Caulfield’s angst-ridden adventures. He tells us the best way to learn portrait photography is to take plenty of pictures. I find it hard not to be sarcastic about this advice.

This book seems more like a poorly disguised portfolio of the author’s pictures. I found most of these pictures unexciting and repetitive. If you want an instructive, thought provoking portfolio, get yourself a book by Richard Avedon.