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Rick Sammon's Face to Face: Photographing People

"Anyone can take pictures, but not everyone can make pictures," writes Rick Sammon, travel and adventure photographer and author of some 27 books.

And in Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People (O'Reilly, May 2008), he shows what he means, with pages of stunning photographs of people, along with his informal commentary about where, why, and how he took each shot.

This is not a step-by-step how-to book, or a tips and tricks book. It's more of an inspirational guide to thinking about taking better photos. After all, the largest section of the book is on Photo Philosophies, thinking about composition and poses and creativity to get fun and interesting shots.

Sammon's deeper message is that “Every picture is a self portrait” -- as you frame a subject, "the attitude and the energy that you project will be reflected in your subject’s face--and eyes--you’ll get a higher percentage of pictures that you like... you are subconsciously “directing” the subject to mirror the way you feel." And the result here is powerful shots of happy, comfortable, and confident people.

The second half of the book then does get into more specific advice, with sections on Outdoor Photography (action, groups, controlling lighting) and Indoor Photography (especially working with lighting). And Sammon concludes with a section on Enhancing Your Pictures in Photoshop -- again not detailed advanced techniques, but more fundamental attention to cropping and enhancements to change a snapshot into a portrait.

You can study this book from cover to cover, or just enjoy the fascinating portraits. But then you'll get pulled in to Sammon's informal commentary about the places he's picturing, the subjects he's shooting, and the choices that he made to get the shots that he wanted.

So as you do your own shooting, have fun with it, move in closer to focus more on people, and think about making -- rather than simply taking -- pictures.

Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People
    by Rick Sammon
    O'Reilly Media, May 2008, 282 pages, ISBN 059651574X, $34.99 ($23 street)

See O'Reilly Media for more information, including digital version in PDF format and access through Safari Books Online.

    Find Face to Face on Amazon.com

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