The Portrait Photography Course by Mark Jenkinson – Book Review

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The Portrait Photography Course – Principles, practice, and techniques: The essential guide for photographers by Mark Jenkinson – Published by Peachpit Press – Book Review

Mark Jenkinson has enjoyed a 25 year career as a pro photographer shooting a variety of genres including portraits and fashion as well as assignments as a photojournalist. He also teaches photography at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

Mark Jenkinson’s intent, when writing this book, was to help young photographers by inspiring them while keeping a focus on the reality of starting a career in the photography industry. The Portrait Photography Course is designed as a university level text book for photography students. It will captivate a much larger audience such as hobbyist thinking of turning pro, pros wanting to learn new techniques in portraiture or anyone passionate about photography in general.

Every aspect of portrait photography, in studio and on location, is covered in the book. Composition, psychology, posing, lighting, equipment, post processing… It’s all there in detail with tutorials and dozens of images to illustrates each point. Each tutorial section includes objectives and exercises as well as tips and tricks. Most of the images used in the book are not by famous photographers but by students or emerging pros. In doing so, Mark Jenkinson intended to “ […] Help young photographers bridge the gap between aspiration and accomplishment.”

A section of the book is also devoted to a series of insightful interviews with established and successful pros, from celebrity and family photographers to photojournalists. Last, but not least, the author approaches vital aspects of the profession in a chapter titled “Going professional” from defining your own style, putting together a portfolio to finding a job in the industry and a list of equipment necessary to get started.

The wealth of information you will find in The Portrait Photography Course is incredible. It is definitely one of the most complete photography book I have ever read on any given topic. Whether you are a student or you’ve been shooting portraits for a while, I can assure you that you will learn something new and be inspired by the tutorials, images and stories it features.

Best of all, the book retails for $39.99 USD but you can save a few dollars on Amazon and it is worth every penny! This is undoubtedly the reference book that will be on your desk for years to come with dozens of colorful sticky notes marking important pages with useful tips and information.

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

  • Hi

    This looks like a book I will have to purchase and study. I hace been active in a local Pro-AM meetup group and have received many great tips from some talented photographers. This is from one of my first studio sessions with a pro model – I have much to learn and eager to do so!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/sadness/

  • Wonderful post. A picture is worth than thousands words. Photography is indeed the best way to express your feelings and depicts the era. I love photography and look over the web for finding useful stuff for the same. I came across your blog and after subscribing in my feeder I hope you will keep on the good posts like this continuously. Thanks You

  • Portraits are tricky, that’s for sure. One of my favorites is here:

    http://quotidian-photography.blogspot.com/2011/06/tape-for-sale.html

    Connection with the subject is so important. Capturing expression, and the moment is also key. I would have liked to know what advice you found useful in this book. The review reads a little more like a press release than anything else, as you haven’t made it very personal.

  • It is hard to find a good book with all the detail of photography. However photography is an amazing talent that a very few individuals have in them. The most important thing in photography is to have the right equipments with you. You should really spend some time in evaluating all the equipments. It is very important to buy a good camera. Photography has evolved greatly over the years and so it is very important to learn the science and techniques of the photography in a very good institution.

  • Aha! This is something worth reading, as my specialty is on a different type of photography.

    I do Car Photography for my website http://CustomPinoyRides.com.

    But sometimes I do have to shoot models, or the owners of the cars. So I feel Portrait Photography is something I should be proficient with as well. So this will really help. Thanks!

  • Caseymorgan

    With the advent of digital photography is the fact that everywhere I go is my iPad. Would be nice to have this type reference in digital format to read over and over. Idle time is best filled reading about photography.

  • I bought this book a few months ago, and it is a wonderful book! Definitely one I will keep on hand as a refresher & inspiration. I highly advise picking up a copy and reading it cover to cover! -Stefanie M.

  • I’m with Jessica. This definitely reads like a press release… and I’m wondering if there’s anything unique about this book that’ll make it any better than the other lighting/portrait books I’ve bought and looked through. Luckily, my local Barnes and Noble shows it as in stock, so I think I’ll hop over there for a bit, thumb through the book, and see if it is actually worth the investment.

  • @Brian and Jessica: It’s hard to please everyone. If it’s too personal then others won’t like that… Or it’s going to be too long and no one will read it! I like my reviews to be objective because everyone has different needs. I’m not interested in studio portraiture for example, but others are so it was also important to mention that a chapter was devoted to it. I really think this book is one of the most complete I’ve ever read on the subject and I really couldn’t find anything negative to say about it, even if I tried. My favorite chapter was ‘Location and Environment Photography’ because that’s the type of portraiture I shoot. I also loved the history of portraiture chapter and the interviews.

    I’m glad everyone else seemed to like the review so far. The only purpose for this article is to help fellow photographers discover a source of quality information that,, I believe, would be a great addition to any bookshelf!

  • Jade

    I have just come back from Singapore and I saw this book for sale! I couldn’t help myself… Also went ahead and got a couple of other great books on digital wedding photography and boudoir photography hehe

  • Hi,

    Great Street pics. Loved most of them.

    Following are the links of my work.
    Would love to get feedback from you.

    http://vish4uall-reflectionsaround.blogspot.com/

    http://www.facebook.com/ReflectionsAround

    Regards,
    Vishal

  • skye

    I just got this book and I am loving it! Half way through and i can’t put it down, excelent for a learning photographer.

  • Hey thanks for this article, quite an interesting read. Are you going write a follow-up for it? I’ll be sure to check it out if it happens.!

Some Older Comments

  • Rachel December 30, 2011 02:54 pm

    Hey thanks for this article, quite an interesting read. Are you going write a follow-up for it? I'll be sure to check it out if it happens.!

  • skye October 20, 2011 03:16 am

    I just got this book and I am loving it! Half way through and i can't put it down, excelent for a learning photographer.

  • Vishal July 12, 2011 05:36 am

    Hi,

    Great Street pics. Loved most of them.

    Following are the links of my work.
    Would love to get feedback from you.

    http://vish4uall-reflectionsaround.blogspot.com/

    http://www.facebook.com/ReflectionsAround

    Regards,
    Vishal

  • Jade July 11, 2011 07:43 pm

    I have just come back from Singapore and I saw this book for sale! I couldn't help myself... Also went ahead and got a couple of other great books on digital wedding photography and boudoir photography hehe

  • Valerie Jardin July 9, 2011 03:09 am

    @Brian and Jessica: It's hard to please everyone. If it's too personal then others won't like that... Or it's going to be too long and no one will read it! I like my reviews to be objective because everyone has different needs. I'm not interested in studio portraiture for example, but others are so it was also important to mention that a chapter was devoted to it. I really think this book is one of the most complete I've ever read on the subject and I really couldn't find anything negative to say about it, even if I tried. My favorite chapter was 'Location and Environment Photography' because that's the type of portraiture I shoot. I also loved the history of portraiture chapter and the interviews.

    I'm glad everyone else seemed to like the review so far. The only purpose for this article is to help fellow photographers discover a source of quality information that,, I believe, would be a great addition to any bookshelf!

  • Brian July 9, 2011 02:51 am

    I'm with Jessica. This definitely reads like a press release... and I'm wondering if there's anything unique about this book that'll make it any better than the other lighting/portrait books I've bought and looked through. Luckily, my local Barnes and Noble shows it as in stock, so I think I'll hop over there for a bit, thumb through the book, and see if it is actually worth the investment.

  • Stefanie M. Morris July 9, 2011 12:22 am

    I bought this book a few months ago, and it is a wonderful book! Definitely one I will keep on hand as a refresher & inspiration. I highly advise picking up a copy and reading it cover to cover! -Stefanie M.

  • Caseymorgan July 8, 2011 11:41 pm

    With the advent of digital photography is the fact that everywhere I go is my iPad. Would be nice to have this type reference in digital format to read over and over. Idle time is best filled reading about photography.

  • THE aSTIG @ CustomPinoyRides.com July 8, 2011 11:17 pm

    Aha! This is something worth reading, as my specialty is on a different type of photography.

    I do Car Photography for my website http://CustomPinoyRides.com.

    But sometimes I do have to shoot models, or the owners of the cars. So I feel Portrait Photography is something I should be proficient with as well. So this will really help. Thanks!

  • Plano Photographer July 8, 2011 09:53 pm

    It is hard to find a good book with all the detail of photography. However photography is an amazing talent that a very few individuals have in them. The most important thing in photography is to have the right equipments with you. You should really spend some time in evaluating all the equipments. It is very important to buy a good camera. Photography has evolved greatly over the years and so it is very important to learn the science and techniques of the photography in a very good institution.

  • Jessica Sweeney July 8, 2011 05:38 pm

    Portraits are tricky, that's for sure. One of my favorites is here:

    http://quotidian-photography.blogspot.com/2011/06/tape-for-sale.html

    Connection with the subject is so important. Capturing expression, and the moment is also key. I would have liked to know what advice you found useful in this book. The review reads a little more like a press release than anything else, as you haven't made it very personal.

  • Top wedding photographers July 8, 2011 05:02 pm

    Wonderful post. A picture is worth than thousands words. Photography is indeed the best way to express your feelings and depicts the era. I love photography and look over the web for finding useful stuff for the same. I came across your blog and after subscribing in my feeder I hope you will keep on the good posts like this continuously. Thanks You

  • Erik Kerstenbeck July 8, 2011 06:32 am

    Hi

    This looks like a book I will have to purchase and study. I hace been active in a local Pro-AM meetup group and have received many great tips from some talented photographers. This is from one of my first studio sessions with a pro model - I have much to learn and eager to do so!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/sadness/

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