The Luminous Portrait: Book Review

The Luminous Portrait: Book Review

cover.jpgWho doesn’t love Elisabeth Messina? Her graceful writing style and stunning images have graced the pages of nationwide magazines including Us Weekly, OK, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, and Professional Photographer. She has published her own magazine. She runs an incredibly lucrative and successful Wedding and Portrait business, and I never cease to be amazed at how much she offers to developing photographers.

Once again, Messina has given us a gift with her craft: A new book covering the ins and outs of creating “The Luminous Portrait“.

“When it comes to creating a portrait, I never just walk into a shoot, pick up my camera, and start clicking away. The more you shoot, the more you discover that many elements need to be considered to successfully orchestrate a portrait shoot…”: technical factors, the light, the location, the creative aspects, the mindset of your subject, and so on.” – The Luminous Portrait

Messina takes the time to walk her readers through the core, most important principles of portrait creation: Understanding your subjects, location, working with natural light, and exposing. She has one simple tip for creating The Luminous Portrait: Work on manual, and whatever is the darkest part of your subject – expose for that. This is her strategy, and, despite the many arguments I personally have heard for doing otherwise, it is a technique that works brilliantly for Messina.

The Luminous Portrait is far from just a technical “how-to” manual. Messina also writes about the most difficult topics in portraiture: Artistry. Evoking emotion. She encourages photographers to do more than take technically correct portraits, and aim for creating photos that pull at heartstrings.

Through her book, Messina also touches on the relationship between posing and composition, flare and overexposure, and styling and props.

What I appreciate most about Messina’s book, is that – while the majority of her work is comprised of weddings, this is not a book that focuses on “the art of weddings”, as many photographers tend to produce. Rather, this is a book that brings perspective to creating stunning portraits of all kinds – birthdays, children at play, couples, and maternity. Messina does not keep her portrait art to a box, but uses her depth of experience to provide insight across portrait fields of all kinds.

For not even $20 on Amazon (currently 38% off), this is a book that will inspire, instruct, and give life to every portrait photographer, at any stage of their career.

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography and leadership with

Some Older Comments

  • Nina June 27, 2012 04:57 pm

    I have been looking for an inspiring book about light and portraiture for a while, something that has technicalities but also talks of creation and shares tips and experiences, and when I bought this book, it was awe inspiring for me, i just love it and read it as if it is a delicacy, such a pleasure!!

  • Roberto June 21, 2012 12:13 am

    How can we obtain a pdf file? I am from Mexico, so is not easy to buy using Amazon !!

  • MikeC366 June 20, 2012 10:44 pm

    Looks a really interesting read so I've just added it to my birthday wishlist. Which is not very far away :)


  • Lara White June 19, 2012 11:53 pm

    I've been meaning to order that, thanks for the reminder! The cover image is so evocative!