The Dramatic Portrait:
The Art of Crafting Light and Shadow
by chris knight
rocky nook | 240 pp.
Lighting is almost a religion for Chris Knight, and The Dramatic
Portrait is as well-rounded and comprehensive a lighting treatise as
you’ll find in any contemporary photo literature. A veteran shooter
and instructor at Pratt Institute and the New York Film Academy,
Knight has a deep passion for and an encyclopedic knowledge of
the technical and aesthetic dimensions of portraiture, along with
another standout trait: his lively sense of history.
We open this book to an extended, copiously researched
and illustrated chapter that practically traces portraiture back to the dinosaurs—the
Egyptians, actually—and follows the portraitist’s craft through millennia of art history
that eventually lead us to the age of the photograph. All of this is germane to
portraitists of any era. Many of the canons for observing and recording the human
face are direct legacies of Renaissance painters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Dürer, their
compatriots and their ensuing generations.
Off the history trail, amid the practical realities of a modern studio, The Dramatic
Portrait is a kind of everything-you-need-to-know handbook structured around
Knight’s terse, clearly articulated takes on every possible lighting schema in his
arsenal. A first, casual flip-through lets you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in
the universe of moody, low-key, off-axis lighting and film noir portrait studies. But
they’re the perfect palette for demonstrating, with his extraordinary precision, the
vast scope of Knight’s innovative and erudite approach to his craft. (Learn more
about Knight’s lighting style at rangefinderonline.com and in our Summer Issue’s
Fully Lit feature, starting on page 36.)
All About the Portrait
BY JIM CORNFIELD
The Atlas of Beauty
Women of the World in 500 Portraits
by mihaela noroc
ten speed press | 352 pp.
There’s not a photographic undertaking
more on point in today’s reeling world than
Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc’s
courageous The Atlas of Beauty global
outreach, newly released as a remarkable
500-image monograph. With the world
press and social media peeking in, Noroc
set out three years ago to show our planet reflected in what
became a collection of beautiful environmental portraits
that depict women of all cultures and ethnicities around the
globe. The images project friendship and a quiet,
approachable aura, never maudlin, and remarkable in its
diversity. And there’s a powerful gender-based slant
here—what Noroc articulates as the “warmth and serenity
which comes from the eyes of a woman.“ Here’s your
assignment: Add this book to your camera gear, and inject
that same feeling into your own portraits.
60 Powerful Design Ideas for Knockout Images
by travis gadsby
amherst media | 128 pp.
This title has been on one of those Post-It
notes I keep forwarding to my next calendar
page to remind me to review it for the readers
of Rangefinder. Portraiture Unleashed is now a
couple of years old, and way overdue for this
column. But I promise it’s worth the wait.
Travis Gadsby is something of a portrait
wizard—brash, imaginative and loaded with ideas everyone
always wishes they’d thought of first. He dresses his
portrait clients in fairy tale costumes, or “Boho Chic, ” does
outdoor portraits in the snow or in abandoned buildings,
incorporates props and mirrors and wild coiffure. And
more. He’s creative and high energy, as you’ll see in this
extraordinary little book, and…he loves to share his ideas.
Time to take advantage of that. Portraiture Unleashed is
alive and well on Amazon and most everywhere else.
ABOVE: In his newly released portrait book, Chris Knight teaches you how to apply
meticulous and time-honored lighting techniques for powerful results.