On Friday I got an email from Amazon with some book recommendations. Among them was Chris Gatcum’s “Light & Shoot 50 Fashion Photos“, published by ILEX. I’m a big fan of fashion photography and it’s a subject I’d like to do a lot more with due it’s covering of both great clothes design and people. I’ll sit and flick through any magazines at hand while on the trains or killing time in waiting rooms, looking at all the highlights and shadows in the images working out the way in which the shot was lit. An exercise I had to do with my own photo on the left, pulled from my medium format transparency archives. Some photographers are getting into the habit of replacing highlights in the models eyes in close-ups making it harder to confirm the lighting configurations used, so seeing photographers openly share the details is refreshing.

Rather than wait for a book to ship from Amazon I called Waterstone’s Piccadilly branch and asked them to put a copy by for me to collect that evening.

As the book says in its opening paragraphs, photography is all about light, without it you have no photograph. The on-line write up on the book promised diagrams for each image showing how the photographer set up and lit the shot. The book delivers on this with plan and perspective diagrams and a few paragraphs from the photographer on their process.

After a short intro into the various types of lighting equipment the book dives into images from studio shoots with opening images from Etha T. Allen and Jens Ingvarsson. The Location section that follows has a roughly equal number of pages which I was glad for as I’m wanting to escape the confines of the studio more and do more shoots like the one I’d done with Hayleigh & Clive in a hotels function room. The final smaller Mono section concentrates on Black & White photography.

With the diagrams, photographers text and “Get the look” text from Chris the book is a good read for anyone who’s wanting to experiment with light in a different way and looking for inspiration. I’m familiar with many of the set-ups used, but it’s still been a great read, inspiring me to grow my flash gel collection for some more interesting light effects and to try some shoots with more direct hard light and the strong shadows it casts. There are also examples of mixing light sources that had not occurred to me. So a recommended read – if there’s even only a couple of lighting setups you’ll take from the book it will have paid for itself.