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Book Review: Minimalist Lighting, Professional Techniques for Location Photography

Minimalist Lighting

Minimalist Lighting, Professional Techniques for Location Photography
by Kirk Tuck
Amherst Media, 2008

Kirk Tuck is a long-time advertising and corporate photographer hailing from Austin, Texas. Around the time digital photography started changing all of our lives, he realized that, among other things, the new cameras meant he no longer needed to schlep hundreds of pounds of lighting and grip gear across town or around the world to get the high-quality photos his clients required. Matching means to ends, he started exploiting the power of small, sometimes intelligent, flash units combined with existing lighting and made his photography evolve in the process.

Mr. Tuck’s makes his philosophy plain early on:

“With each pound of gear I’ve jettisoned, I’ve found that I arrive on locations with more energy and a better ability to focus on creative problem solving. When I go home at the end of the day, I’m not worn out from dragging around a cart filled with hundreds of pounds of heavy equipment. And while I’m shooting, I’m able to do many of the adjustments to my lights from the camera position using a wireless controller. That helps overcome the attitude of ‘good enough’ that seeps into our creative work when we’re physically tired.”

Specific pieces of gear—not all of which need batteries, and many of which are ridiculously inexpensive—are covered as are the strategies and tactics needed to making small Strobist-type solutions work for the busy photographer.

Richly illuminated with location portraits and a few still lifes, and written in a clean down to earth style, what Mr. Tuck really shows in this book is that good photography is not about the gear, and that the most important thing about photographing people well is capturing the evanescent connection between a photographer and the subject as well as the visual representation.

Ellis Vener