Two New ebooks by Damien Lovegrove

 

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Digital photography is free so make the most of it. I shoot three times a week on average to maintain my edge; any less than that and I slip backwards. It doesn’t matter if you play tennis, play a musical instrument or take photographs, improvements come through continued practice and the application of good skills. It is important to have a camera that begs to be picked up and used. The Fujifilm X system saved my career 5 years ago because of this characteristic alone. -Damien Lovegrove, Portraits.

 

Book One: The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers

 

Damien Lovegrove is one of the most respected photographers I know when it comes to glamor and portraits. He is also one of the friendliest and prolific. To learn about Damien’s pedigree you should listen to the interview, I did with him on my podcast Depth of Field. In short, he worked for years with the BBC becoming an expert at lighting. Later when he started shooting weddings, he discovered he was a natural and people loved his style and images. He is now a Fujifilm U.K. X-Photographer and a Fujifilm U.K. brand ambassador.

 

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Damien shoots thousands of frames a week. And when you do that, you learn the ins and outs of your gear. You find its flaws, and its weaknesses. Of course, you also learn it’s strengths. Damien has taken the knowledge he has accrued over these years and filled two ebooks with it. It is these two ebooks, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers and Portraits that I want to review for you here today.

The first book The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers is the simplest to describe. At its core, it is a primer on the X-Series cameras. A sort of, “What is the ________ and how does it work?” You fill in the blank with any x series camera and any x series lens that Fuji makes. If you shoot Fujifilm gear, then you would be doing well to read this ebook. This book tells you not only what camera is best for your style of shooting but is also filled with the details about why Damien uses a certain camera and lens over another.

 

“I prefer to work with the X-T cameras (X-T2 and X-T10) because I like having a large centrally placed viewfinder. Having said that, I tend to use the tilting LCD most of the time. I like avoiding having a camera stuck to my face when I’m making portraits as it alienates my subjects. Using the tilting LCD reminds me of shooting with waist level viewfinders on my medium cameras all those years ago.” -Damien Lovegrove, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers

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But I would be misleading you and doing Damien a disservice if I left you thinking this book was only a catalog of Fujifilm gear. It is so much more than that. The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers is also a very personal look into how Damien Lovegrove uses his cameras. For instance little things like when he is speaking about the X-E2 he writes:

 

“It’s very easy to produce dull images when the camera is given the task of setting exposure so I find it best to work in manual mode with ‘exposure preview in manual mode’ switched on.”-Damien Lovegrove, The Fujifilm X System Guide for Portrait Photographers

 

To discussing things like focusing and recompose with a Fuji x system camera. Did you know that you don’t do this with a Fuji? Damien goes into detail as to why. And the reason why was one of the most forehead-slapping moments for me in this book. It’s what he calls, the flat field lens factor.

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Damien goes through his complete camera settings. In particular, his Q (Quick) menu setup in great detail. This alone is almost worth the purchase of his book.

I am going to be straight here and tell you, when I first saw this book I thought, it was nothing more a catalog of Fujifilm gear that Damien loves. I was wrong; it is much more than that. It is a technical look at how this amazing photographer sets up and uses his cameras and lenses. Between this book and the next book in the docket, you get a virtual internship with Lovegrove. Don’t walk away from either of these two ebooks.

Book Two: Portraits

 

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Damien Lovegrove’s next ebook is simply titled, PORTRAITS. It is nothing short of amazing. 384 high-resolution photographs with all the exposure and lighting details used to create them. Over 50,000 words of creative exploration that took Damien over two years to write!

This book is filled with an entirely different style of portrait photography than I do. I mention this because though I am not a glamor photographer or a studio guy, I still appreciate and have learned from this book.

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Speaking of massive, this ebook is unlike most out today. Frankly, it is less of an ebook and more of a PDF of a university textbook. By that, I mean at 356 pages this no mere ebook that some photographer popped out to sell for $5. It took Damien two years to write this book and a lifetime of experience and as a result more like a university textbook than an ebook. Frankly, it belongs in every photographer’s library. If Portraits were an ink and paper book, you’d be paying well over $100. (Have you priced textbooks lately?)

Damien goes into great detail about each photo in the book. Each photo has the EXIF data in the caption with a rather long explanation of how he made it. I like his candor. There are times when he is surprisingly honest and explains how he forgot to change the ISO from a previous shot (I hate it when that happens!) and how the camera handled it.

 

A look at the book’s index gives you an overview of the massive amount of information that is covered in this book. There are eleven sections in the book beginning with Portrait Foundations. In that section, Damien spends 47 pages on the details of how to set up a shoot – from explaining a narrative to how to create a relaxed pose. In the section Light Matters, he spends 53 pages covering the use of strobes, quality of light, one light set ups, multi-light setups, how to simulate sunlight and much more. After that the bulk of the sections in this book are detailed explanations of each type of portrait you might shoot; Urban, Hollywood (the kind of shots you’d see from of Lana Turner or Betty Davis), Boudoir, Nude and lastly the Figure in Landscape. The last four sections of the book are more technical. In these remaining sections, he discusses in great detail his lighting equipment, what makes a good studio, his workflow and more.

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I think the quote below attests to Damien’s sensitivity and professionalism as a photographer and gives the reader an insight into his workflow.

 

It helps me to take things calmly and respectfully, but at the same time shyness can put over a sense of flustered unprofessionalism so I rely on my experience and photographic ability to disguise things like a gracefully gliding swan frantically paddling away under the water. 

I place my prime lenses on a side table in the room I’m shooting in, I have no caps on them and any Pro Mist filters that are needed are already in place with lens hoods attached. It’s a bit like how a surgeon would lay out their tools on a trolly. I can then quickly swap the lens needed for each shot. Having to go in and out of bags for gear just takes too long and ruins the creative flow. -Damien Lovegrove, Portraits.

 

As I said at the beginning, these are more than 35-page ebooks of pretty pictures. These are books; that would be an investment into your photography. At £20 and £40 the old truism is applicable here, “You get what you pay for.” You would be remiss not to have these two books in your photographic library.

Buy one or both books here:lovegrove-ebook-buynow

 

 

Depth of Field: Douglas Kirkland

Douglas Kirkland is one of photography’s legends, there’s no other way around it. He’s made a treasure trove full of images of the greatest personality that we saw in the latter part of the 20th century.  And by greats I mean the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Mick Jagger, Sting, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rod Steiger, Peter Faulk, Michael Caine, Dr. Stephan Hawking, Morgan Freeman, Orson Welles, Andy Warhol, Oliver Stone, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Peter O’Toole, John Lennon, Brigitte Bardot, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and of course Marilyn Monroe to name only a few. It’s as if you are not famous without having a Kirkland portrait. I can imagine the Hollywood dinner parties, “Darling, you won the Academy award, how droll. But, have you had your portrait made by Kirkland”?

It’s not just the celebs either. If you are a famous photographer who do you go to get your portrait made? Well, Gordan Parks, Arnold Newman, Mary Ellen Marks, Pete Turner and Howard Bingham all went to him. The man’s freaking amazing and I am proud to have had this chance to interview him on Depth of Field.  You might imagine a man with this kind of pedigree might come off haughty or stuck up. But if it’s Douglas Kirkland you’d be wrong. My conversation with Kirkland was as personable as if he was my uncle and he was willing to give help and advice like a long time mentor. There’s no question you’ll enjoy this interview with one of photography’s greats.

Douglas Kirkland has two websites:

Douglas Kirkland Photography

DouglasKirkland.com

A lengthy collection of images from the shoot with Marilyn Monroe HERE.

 

Some Practical Tips for your Consideration

From a practical point of view, agencies and clients like an offset image as it leaves space for copy.

When talking about composition in photography the discussion can become quite obtuse at times – quite complicated and even esoteric. We often throw around words and concepts like the Rule of Thirds or the Fibonacci Triangle, Visual Weight or Visual Mass. There’s a place for all this, but there’s also a place for something much more pragmatic. So today, I want to give you a couple of practical compositional advice. Continue reading

The Human Form Divine

Returning Home

 

“For Mercy has a human heart, Pity, a human face, And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress” William Blake

There is a principle of composition that is so strong it could be called a law. A law, not in the form of man made limitations, but in the sense of the undeniable , like the law of gravity.  The kind of law that may very well be unbreakable. It is what I call, “the law of the the human figure.” It states that in composition the human form trumps all else for visual weight. Continue reading

There is Strength in Their Faces

The Matriarch

At 86 years old, this Gujjar Bakarwal woman still walks over 100 miles twice a year between the peaks of the Indian Himalaya to the lowland plains.  Her stories can be read in the lines in her face. To me, this photograph epitomizes the strength and beauty of the Gujjar women. Unlike the other photos in this series that were photographed wooden huts, this image was made in the canvas tent where she was cooking over an open fire.

 

 

Today I did something I never do, I entered a contest. I have been getting these emails from PDN about this contest they run every year. It is called Faces. As the name suggests, it’s a portrait contest. From environmental portraits to studio portraits–from animals to people it doesn’t matter; if it’s a photo of a face it can be entered. Continue reading

Portraits of Baktipur, Nepal


Yesterday, we went to Baktipur. Nepal in it’s wisdom has attempted to keep it much like its past. Any new building are to be built in the same fashion as the ancient ones. They charge a pricey admittance for tourist, thus keeping the hippies at bay. I really enjoyed this city, I could have stayed all day, except I have the virus that is being passed around by the workshop participants. So I moved slow and felt pretty terrible for most of the day. In fact I made a short day of shooting. As a result of feeling so bad, I fell back to my favorite subject; faces. I hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color and Beauty

Peacock Dancer

Today is a crazy day for me. I have so much going on today that I have not even able to go to the last part of Thaipusam. I still hold out hope that I’ll be able to make it later. But other things are demanding my attention. In fact, I won’t even be able to blog today, outside of this quick note. So I thought I’d just leave you with a nice portrait. This young lady was a peacock dancer in the streets. In a comment about yesterdays images, Ray Ketcham, a photographer and reader wrote that the images yesterday seemed like, “…trying to bottle chaos with colors and motion.” That was exactly what it was like. But there were a few calm moments when color and beauty stood motionless together.

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Sadhu Portrait #2. Kumbh Mela, Hardiwar, India.

This was shot with my favorite 85mm f1.2. I was talking the other day with someone about the 85mm f1.2 and the 50mm f1.2 (that I recently bought). We were joking why they even have a focal length over f2.8 on those lenses? If you buy a super fast lens chances are you’ll never use it at a speed higher than that. At least I don’t.