Focus on Photographing People by Haje Jan Kamps – Focal Press

I consider this book an excellent introduction for anyone who is starting to do serious photography and for the occasional serious photographer who may not have previously done portrait photography.

The author opens with basic information about equipment and camera settings. I like that he emphasizes that an expensive camera is not a requisite for successful imaging. He then discusses composition including how to direct a model, elements of lighting, and some basic rules of composition. There is a discussion of the merits and techniques of street photography. The last section discusses photo editing.

In addition to my opening comment, this would be a good text for an Introductory Course at the high school or college level.

Light, Science & Magic 4th Edition by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua – Focal Press

I have used the 3rd edition of this book when I teach. The 4th Edition improves on the earlier version and brings one “up-to-date.” This is a text I’ll continue to recommend.

The authors introduce the book with some basic information on the physics of light. If you really want to know the how and the why of lighting, this information is important. In my opinion, too often photographers know some basic lighting formulas such as for lighting portraits but they don’t know why these formulas work. The why becomes very important when one encounters a situation that varies from the usual.

As everyone knows, a photographic image is two dimensional. The proper use of lighting is critical to provide an illusion of three dimensions. Another important facet of lighting is the avoidance of unwanted reflections, particularly when photographing a shiny object. Do you ever photograph a black object on a black background? How to do well in all of the preceding situations, and in many more, are explained.

This is a book that all photographers should have in their library.

Focus on Composing Photos by Peter Ensenberger – Focal Press

The major portion of the book covers the “Rules” of good photographic composition. The author performs competently as he progresses through the various chapters. The text is clearly written, and examples abound.

But the very best has been saved till the end; “Epilogue: Where Do You Go from Here? Like the author, I am an advocate of “having a game plan” and being prepared. In the earlier pages the author speaks of scouting out one’s subject and determining different perspectives. On pages 126 and 127 you will find six very different images of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Clearly photographic evidence of the truth of the author’s instruction.

I teach photographic composition to beginning photographers and I’ll be using this book in my next class.

Charles Heisterkamp, III, M.D.