There are many reasons why I rate it so highly, but perhaps the overriding factor that makes it stand out from the rest is how it is written for the layman – simple to understand, dealing from the basics up, and full of practical advice that really works.
What I Learnt
One of the most important things I learnt from this book was confidence: the self-knowledge that I, too, can go ahead and get out there, taking photos of weddings. The book instills this confidence in you because of the wealth of advice and practical tips – from how to pose the bride so that beautiful window light makes the most of her features; to how to set up group shots painlessly – and everything in between.
I’ll get on to some more specifics from the book in a bit, but I do think this is really important – gaining the confidence to actually try it for yourself. For example, I read a different wedding photography book recently, and the advice was just so generic, and the example images just so ‘middling’ that it didn’t inspire confidence at all – by way of huge contrast, Captured By The Light manages to pull you in, teach you some great things, and give you the impetus to go out and try it for yourself. I don’t think you can come up with as high a praise as that, really!
But, I shall continue my praise, and talk about some specific details in the book that really helped me:
Bounce Flash Guides
Davd includes a wealth of information on how to get the most from your flash, and especially by bouncing it from the celing, walls, or even the best man’s shirt! Each bit of advice includes a really handy diagram so you can see just exactly how to set your flash, and example images of just how David has used the technique to get the shot he wants.
I used this knowledge to bounce my flash off the ceiling for the shot of the bride and groom dancing below:
Lenses and Camera Bodies
A really useful couple of chapters covers the lenses and camera bodies that David uses for his wedding photography, with each lens choice including details on just why it has become part of his kit bag.
I found these sections really handy, and if you’re also thinking of getting into wedding photography professionaly, then I’m sure his tips on what lenses work best for each situation will really help you out.
The Bouquet Toss
It’s the little specifics like this that really add up to make this book shine – specific guides on absolutely every situation a wedding photographer will come across. As an example, for the bouqet toss, David recommends a middling aperture such as f/5.6, as you’ll want to have a bit of focus-leeway, and also recommends positioning yourself in front of the bride, and to continue shooting as many frames as you can.
I used these tips to get the shot below:
‘Bringing It All Together’
When you read lots of photography books, you can sometimes feel slightly dejected at the amazing quality of the example photos, compared to the shots you actually end up taking. Nothing could be more true of wedding photography, where professionals’ websites are full of only their very best, ‘standout’ shots.
So, it’s great to see that David has included a chapter that shows an entire wedding’s final chosen album images, from start to finish. Because, although David is an absolutely fantastic photographer (and a great teacher, too), it’s really nice to see that not every single photo is a standout, ‘amazing’ photo. It’s just not possible for every shot to be magazine-publishable quality! And that little bit of information really helped me realise that I can give this wedding photography a shot too; that the example photos on wedding photographers’ websites are the 1 or 2 amazing shots that they have taken per wedding – and that the vast majority of a day’s photos will be good, but not ‘super amazing’.
I think that’s a vital bit of knowledge!
There are just too many great bits of advice in this book to list them all; needless to say, that if you have even an inkling of interest in wedding photography (and if you own a DSLR you’ll probably get asked to shoot a friend’s wedding some day) then you really should get this book.
By the way, although the book is called ‘Captured By The Light’, and does indeed give lots of info on how to use both natural light and flash, the majority of the book is taken up with down-to-earth, practical advice on how to shoot every part of a wedding succesfully – so don’t think that it’s just about lighting, because it really isn’t at all.