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Review – Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits by David duChemin

David duChemin's Portrait of Toshu Boru in Ethiopia

David duChemin is a photographer who has a genuine understanding of how to make a portrait which evokes a deep and profound reaction in the viewer. I’d just recently had a conversation with a friend about how some photographers manage to capture unique and compelling portraits of their subjects even in difficult shooting situations, such as in foreign countries. Then, coincidentally, this week on David’s blog, he posted a portrait which is a fine example of why I admire his work so much, because it demonstrates that kind of talent for connecting with a subject anywhere in the world. David’s image (shown at left) seems to to literally express the soul of the Ethiopian girl in the portrait.


Naturally, I was thrilled to learn in that blog post that today David would be releasing his latest photography eBook, Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits. I actually bought the book this morning before David even sent out his promo email announcing that the book was now officially available; I was that eager to read it!  You can get your copy by clicking on the title link to order. This great book will cost you only $4, less than the price of any decent margarita and, odds are, more likely to improve your portraiture skills!

I’ll begin by simply listing David’s 10 Steps:

  • Relate
  • Wait for the Moment
  • Use the “Right” Lens
  • Use More Than One Frame
  • Understand the Smile
  • Watch the Eyes
  • Play with the Light
  • Control Your Background
  • Get Level
  • Pose Carefully

I’d love to give you a full summary of what David says about each of these steps, but I couldn’t possibly explain them better than David does himself. Thus, I recommend you purchase the book at once!

To summarize my review of the book, I am merely going to list some choice words and phrases which made this book truly resonate for me:

  • Relating
  • Revelation
  • Reveal something of the photographer
  • Reveal something of the subject
  • Relationship
  • Connection
  • Humanity
  • Put subject at ease
  • Reveal emotion
  • Wait for it
  • Be Curious
  • Be Intentional
  • Connect Emotionally
  • Patience
  • Soul View
  • Mask Falling
  • Show the subject some images
  • Reassure them
  • Converse
  • Make some more images
  • Lens depends on intent – don’t fall into a rut
  • Experiment with a variety of lenses
  • Take lots more than one frame
  • Different frames show multi-dimensions of the person
  • Mystery
  • What to include?  
  • What to exclude?
  • Understand smiles – genuine smiles are in the eyes
  • Watch the eyes
  • Direction of subject’s gaze
  • Catch lights in the eyes
  • What are the eyes saying?
  • Control Light
  • Natural Light
  • Flashes
  • Diffusers and Reflectors
  • Play With Light
  • Study and Observe Light
  • Control Background – Pay Attention!
  • Get level with subject – get on their point of view
  • Pose authentically in ways naturally comfortable for them

For each of these various words and phrases I’ve mentioned, David has at least a paragraph, or a page, or more, to help you to understand the importance of that idea and how to achieve great results.

What is ideal about David’s book is that not only does he provide clear explanations of each step, but the book also includes a “Creative Exercise” for each of the 10 Steps to Better Portraits. I fully intend to rise to the challenge and actually complete David’s assignments, in order to grow in my own portraiture skills.

I give Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits by David duChemin two thumbs up, five gold stars, and double high fives, which of course is a HIGH TEN!

Hope you find it as wonderful as I have!  Order here:

Forget Mugshots: 10 Steps to Better Portraits



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"As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images Photo Blog"  by Janine Fugere. 

Come take a look at the world "As Seen by Janine." 

My cameras and lenses are my "Eyes of the World."  Please enjoy the view! 

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