Diego Indraccolo is a London based fashion photographer, working for many magazines, designers and fashion houses. With Fashion Photography – A Pocket Tutorial
, he’s taking time out to give us the advice that he wishes he had starting his career. This is my first kindle book too, so I’m sure that affects my reading of the book, but more on that later. The book is aimed at those interested in shooting fashion photography (beginners and advanced), but that have a grasp of lighting and exposure.
The book is spilt into 3 sections: Before the Shoot, The Shoot and The Business. Before the Shoot talks about what we need to do to get the work, and how to find who to work with. Let me say that before I go any further, that Diego’s take on this is very different than a host of books I’ve read, as well as online views. It also makes a ton of sense to me too, based on recent experience. He doesn’t advocate finding a Makeup Artist straight off the bat, but shows a different route to building your team. In fashion photography, it’s not about the photographer, it’s very much about the team with the photographer, so direction in this is vital to success.
As part of the ‘Before the shoot’ section, Diego discusses creating themes and stories for the shoot, and your portfolio, as well as the things they have in common. He especially advocates that there are no bad tests, because even the ones that didn’t work teach you something. Even if you shoot everything you plan, only use the best. His advice here is both frank, and possibly a little painful. We all know from personal experience that we get emotionally attached to our work. Here is where we need to make precise cuts to get the best results. It’s funny as I read this, because I can see myself making the errors being pointed out in the book.
In the middle section, ‘The Shoot’, we get advice on the mechanics of the fashion shoot. First up is Lighting. Here the emphasis is on using one or two lights to get the most effect. The use of one light is promoted and the mastery thereof. It’s not a lighting primer, but a concise treatise on the matter. While Diego doesn’t use reflectors in his work, he doesn’t discourage it. Next he talks about directing the model. Again there’s a frank note about how many models work and why you need to be actively involved. One key take out from the whole book is that fashion photography is about the clothes, so our directing is to make the clothes look the best.
As part of the shoot we should always be looking for the tasteful. Anything else is essentially ‘a varying degree of vulgar’. Diego tells a wonderful tale of how we see during a shoot, and what happens when we see the files in the cold light of day. His telling is so true, it’s almost uncanny. He then pushes us to find our own style, and even though it’s all been done, not to merely emulate others. Finally Diego talks about use of Photoshop and gives solid counsel on deciding what to do. This isn’t a tutorial on retouching, but rather direction on it’s use. The final part of this section is about ‘Taste & Style’, which discusses what makes a shoot different.
The ultimate section of the book is ‘The Business’. Here we get a look into submitting shoots, getting clothes and the most important thing in a professional photographers life: getting paid. Here the words of wisdom revolve around the catch 22 of getting published and getting good brands for your shoots. There’s also pointers on why a shoot may not get accepted and what you can to to help yourself. We also get a look at the excuses made by businesses in the hope of a free shoot, and the answers to them. The section finishes up with a discussion of fashion week and specializing.
My aim in all my reviews is to try and give a sense of the work, but at the same time not reveal the innermost secrets. After all, the author deserves recompense if the work is good. So now that I’ve looked at the overview of the book, what did I think? First up, the book is written in a very conversational style. It’s really easy to read. Secondly, it’s quite short, but that means that each section is actually gold. Unlike a lot of books that have a load of fluff, this is all good stuff. That said, I think some of the text could be a little more expanded. When talking about the team, there could be more detail on the jobs of the team members. Not everyone coming to fashion photography knows about teams, even though they should!
Despite that niggle, I really like this little book. Being written for Kindle, it’s text only and while I feel that photos would add weight to the text, it really does stand on its own. If your interested in shooting fashion photography, this is definitely worth the read. Diego does occasional workshops too, something I’m considering if there is the amount of gold that exists in this little book.