Jeanloup Sieff (book review)

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

When it comes to classic designer fashion shoots, iconic celebrities of the 60’s and intimate portraitures, the work of Jeanloup Sieff is stunning!

This book is highly regarded in the photography circles and to the people who really appreciate his work, hence I bought it without even looking at the contents. In my first viewing of this book I had mixed feelings, more good than bad, and when I say bad, I mean silly things that annoy me as a photographer. So how can I say his work is stunning, yet slightly annoying. I will explain further on.

Jeanloup Sieff

Jeanloup Sieff

This book is a great size (30 x 2.1 x 24 cm) and is mainly a visual feast of Jeanloup Sieff’s work, split into four chapters that cover four decades (1950’s – 1980’s). The body of work ranges from Designer fashion shoots, celebrity portraits, artistic photos, reportage,  landscape and some you could almost say street photography. Beside each photo is a brief comment from Jeanloup, in English, French and German; whether it was explaining who or what  was in the photo, being truthful or sharing his humour. This was a nice touch as it was good to read his thoughts behind the photo.

Jeanloup Sieff’s portrait work really are little pieces of art in themselves, with beautiful lighting, shadows, skin tones, use of texture, framing, elegance and eye catching yet easy on the eye; all the high qualities a black and white photo should reveal. His nude portraits reveal an intimacy and beautiful moments of the female form that are wonderful. There are also amazing, and at the time high profile celebrity portraits, some glamorous  and some that have that informal yet honest soulful feel to them.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see the actress Jean Seberg from one of my all time favourite films Jean-Luc Godard’s breathless in this book. The more times I opened this book, the more I appreciated it.

Okay so what annoyed me, when all I have done is praised this book. The are a number of photos in this book mostly the landscape photos, where the burn and dodge processing technique is awful, distracting and somewhat takes my focus off the main subject instead of enhancing it, as burn and dodge is supposed to. (Burn and dodge is a processing technique that enables the developer of the photos to lighting and darken areas of the photo). This very common technique is so heavily used on a few of the photos, we see strong white halos around people and on various skyline horizons. As an example the landscape would be exposed correctly, but the sky would be processed many F-stops darker, so we would have a dark sky that would be white where it met the horizon. I know I am being picky but if you look at the book you may come to the same conclusion it just looks odd, and may slightly dilute the finer photographs he so masterfully captured.

Jeanloup Sieff
Hardcover: 192 pages Multilingual Edition: English, French, German
Publisher: Taschen
ISBN-10: 383651723X
ISBN-13: 978-3836517232

The Photographic Portrait by Robin Gillanders (book review)

October 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have been doing more and more Portrait work recently, and a book I purchased earlier in the year, that got me thinking about my approach and execution of a worthy Portrait, is “The Photographic Portrait by Robin Gilanders.

In Robin Gilanders book he explains and demonstrates through his fine photography, what separates a good strong, revealing Portrait from what would be just a regular snapshot. Robin covers in depth from various formal and informal portraits, what really is the true essence of a particular group of people or a photo of one person. He makes you think what defines that person from their environment, their belongings and the way they should pose.

As well as many theories on what makes a Portrait, Robin explains various lighting set-ups, from available light to using flash.

It is when you weight up the subject and inspect the elements you have – the coming together of person/s, lighting, perspective, medium chosen, environment and pose. You really do realise what makes up Portrait of essence compared to regular snapshot. However their are times when a snapshot can reveal more about the person, but you will have to buy his book to find out.

This fine book has the perfect balance of theory, illustrated set-ups, contact sheets and final photos from Robin Gillanders body of work.

The Photographic Portrait by Robin Gillanders
Hardcover: 144 pages (English)
Publisher: David & Charles
ISBN-10: 0715316516
ISBN-13: 978-0715316511

Paris, Portrait of a City (book review)

October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every couple of months I buy a book or two on photography.

The books are more on the masterful photographer’s work, rather than how to books. It is here I analyse, digest, and brainstorm. The books I purchase apart from supporting the photographer and book seller, give me ideas that enable me to push my abilities, from where I may likely fail, but learn from. This helps me to learn and continue to push. And the more I work on this cycle the more I improve and get it right first time due to experience.

There are times though, where I just like to look at a great book on photography with a beverage and just enjoy it. And my most recent purchase was “Paris, Portrait of a City”

This worthy any extraordinary book really is the essence of what Paris has and still is all about. The 544 pages cover all themes and topics from history, street photography, documentary, fashion, architecture personal portraits and that certain Je ne sais quoi?

This book makes a credible coffee table book, but yearns to be viewed over and over all A4 sized 544 pages.

If you cannot afford to buy this book, then ask for it, for your birthday, Christmas or special occasional. If you enjoy photography in it’s purest form then I highly recommend this book.

Paris, Portrait of a City
(Author, Editor) Jean-Claude Gautrand
ISBN-10: 3836502933
ISBN-13: 978-3836502931

I am not sponsored but just a hard working photographer passing my honest, unbiased, opinion.

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