Favorite training material?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  David Frazer 9 months, 1 week ago.

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    Zechariah Stover

    What are your favorite training materials? Books, Videos, websites, blogs, online classes, live classes? Where have you learned the most? What would you recommend to other aspiring photographers?


    Zechariah Stover

    All my training has come from books. My older brother Jeremiah has encouraged all of us siblings to gain skill photographically and to that end has 2 or 3 dozen photography books.
    The ones that have been most influential/beneficial to me are: (listed in order of most basic to most advanced)

    Mom’s Little Book of Photo Tips
    How to Photograph you Family by Nick Kelsh
    How to Photograph your Life by Nick Kelsh
    John Hedgeco’s Manual of Photography (there is a newer versions for a little over twice the price)
    Prentice Hall’s Photography by Barbara London (there are multiple newer versions but they are quite pricey)

    Note: the last two are secular textbooks. The copies I have are custom edited to remove inappropriate content.


    James Staddon

    I generally do most of my learning from blogs, personal research on equipment online, hands-on experience, and interacting with other photographers.

    – I find the articles on OutdoorPhotographer.com very helpful, though they are secular.
    – I’ve learned a lot from Digital Photography School
    – I think Ian Plant does a great job in his book Visual Flow explaining detailed composition technique (also secular).
    – When I want to buy a new piece of equipment, I always consult http://www.the-digital-picture.com
    – I learned a ton talking for just one hour with pro photographer Jeff Schultz recently.
    – When I’m around photographers who know more than I do, asking lots of questions and seeking critique helps me learn a lot; when I’m around photographers who don’t know as much as I do, then I try to explain what I think I know . . . and when I find it hard to explain, I go home and do more research. 🙂


    Frazer Family

    After struggling with the lighting for our family photo a few months ago, we’re thinking of trying to learn a bit about portrait photography. We recently got some light reflecting/diffusing “umbrellas” and several of us have a vague idea of how portrait photography is usually set up, but knowing how immodest this branch of photography usually is, we’re hesitant to attend local classes or buy books on the subject without any trusted recommendations.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for learning how to do this – any good websites, books, etc. – where we won’t have to block/tear out half the pictures?


    James Staddon

    That’s a great question, @FrazerFamily. I wish I had a collection of resources already on hand to send you. But since I don’t, what better time is there to start than now?

    A friend just told me about the following secular resource which, due to it’s age, is very clean compared to modern secular material: The Zeltsman Approach to Traditional Classic Portraiture.

    If nothing else, it should get you started!


    James Staddon

    Here’s another good source by It’s Always Autumn: http://www.itsalwaysautumn.com/category/photography-2/posing

    I think babies look a whole lot better in little outfits, and I wouldn’t necessarily call it a conservative source, but throughout the entire website there is a sense of moral integrity.


    Ezra Morley

    You say, “A family photo”, do you mean a group photo, or individual portraits of each person in your family? Lighting scenarios would be a lot different depending on what you mean.

    I recently had a little challenge at Thanksgiving time in regards to group photos. I’m the acknowledged “professional” photographer of our family, so when a bunch of us got together, and they wanted a group picture, you just call on “The Photographer”! There must have been close to 60 people, and since they didn’t want to go out and try to look pleasant while standing in snow and wind, they opted for an indoor group photo.
    Thankfully, I had anticipated this kind of an arrangement, and had brought along my tripod, radio wireless trigger, and 2 speedlights. I set the 2 speedlights on a countertop and a table, set them at full power aimed at the white ceiling, and used my on-camera flash (turned down as far as it could go) as the master to trigger the speedlights. The 2 speedlights together lit up the room quite nicely, (enough that I could stop down some to get the whole group in focus) and the ceiling was like on big diffuser.

    In regards to portrait learning material, I don’t know what to tell you. Someone gave me several photography books, among them a set of Scott Kelby’s books, and they do have a few chapters on portrait photography, but, like you said, you have to block out/tear out half of it because of the indecency portrayed.

    I vote that we all do some research on Christian portrait photographers, then sign a petion and send it to them, asking them to write a book illustrated with decent pictures.


    James Staddon

    Fun to read about your group portrait scenario! Sounds well done.

    Hey, I’m all for the idea of illustrating a portrait photography book that also portrays a descent sense of morality and integrity!


    Ezra Morley

    @jamesstaddon, do you have any suggestions on photographers who would be able to do something like that? I don’t really know any other photographers…

    Maybe we could all pitch in and help with designing, taking sample shots, proofing, etc. That would be a good way to learn while helping!


    Benjamin Cahill

    Greetings everyone!

    I learned a vast amount from the excellent resources of David Hobby at strobist.blogspot.com, especially his Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 courses (free). He has released the content in Lighting 101 in PDF form as well. It has been years since I have gone through these, but I don’t remember much at all (if any) in the way of immodesty.

    I highly recommend his materials for their quality (and the expertise behind them), but I will say that it took years for me to feel even remotely comfortable with working with light. When I first started experimenting with off-camera flash, I would imagine amazing pictures in my head, but it took many iterations to produce anything that even vaguely resembled what I envisioned. Throughout the years, I have grown to the point where I can now usually get the result I’m looking for in one or two tries.

    I say all that to say: Don’t get discouraged with light! Keep working at it, and your efforts will be rewarded. After all, we serve Someone greater than the roadblocks of this world.

    “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
    — Colossians 3:23-24

    I hope this is helpful in your quest!

    – Benj


    James Staddon

    Hey @BenjaminCahill, welcome to the forums and thanks for your recommendations and encouragement.

    It is very evident that the author of Strobist is extremely knowledge in his area of expertise. Perhaps the courses you mentioned have been updated with new example images since you last took them, but from my brief review there is not a sense of moral integrity in the packaging in which the content is presented.

    Personally, I would not be able to recommend these courses (except for perhaps Lighting 102) for those seeking a morally clean environment for learning lighting.


    Ezra Morley

    @jamesstaddon, I wonder it would be possible to edit the PDF version of the Lighting 101 course, to remove the offensive pictures? Most of them don’t seem to be illustrating a certain point, merely a “showcase” of what readers have done with his lessons. Just an idea…

    “The Zeltsman Approach to Traditional Classic Portraiture” is certainly an intersting looking read! It’s a pity that the pictures aren’t higher quality, but then I guess the point is to show posing and lighting tips, not show a gallery of perfect portraits. It’s a huge resource, and will take a while to digest, that’s for sure!


    James Staddon

    @buddingphotographer, it would be worth contacting David Hobby to ask permission to create an alternate version. As copyrighted material, special permission would be required.



    I think you all are on to something here! It would be great if you could come up with some wholesome training material! Maybe something to pray about and consider!


    Frazer Family

    Thank you so much for sharing these resources; I’m learning a lot. Lighting has never been my strong point, but hopefully with some practice that will change. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! “The Zeltsman Approach to Traditional Classic Portraiture” and “Lighting 102” have been very helpful with minimal objectionable content.

    Thanks again!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Frazer Family.
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