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Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer

4.66  ·  Rating details ·  348 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In this first-ever showcase of his work, Gregory Heisler, one of professional photography's most respected practitioners, shares 50 iconic portraits of celebrities, athletes, and world leaders, along with fascinating, thoughtful, often humorous stories about how the images were made. From his famously controversial portrait of President George H.W. Bush (which led to the r ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Amphoto Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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4.66  · 
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 ·  348 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book.

Usually with a photo book I will look at all the pictures, and maybe read some of the words around them. Maybe. This one, I looked at all the pictures, and then started from the front, looking AND reading. Going through each picture I felt obligated, almost, to make sure I understood both the picture before me, and the words written about it. Great care was taken in the crafting of both pieces.

I learned a lot. Or, at least I think I did. The author unlocks new ways of t
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photo, 2019-read
Not your average pretty picture book. The portraits here will haunt you. The photo of Greg Louganis falling to earth via water is spooky. The cover photo is my favorite, partly because it's of someone I'd never get to see otherwise, (he was Muhammed Ali's body man) and a Western sheriff. But, here's Julia Roberts as you've never seen her. How lovely, and magnetic.

But, there's Asa Maha Ghosananda. The only person here that I've met in person, myself. What a wonderful surprise. He was a warm and
Trey Piepmeier
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The photos are good, but the stories and techniques are even better. It’s fascinating to hear about how someone who works with such high profile folks does their job. I especially enjoyed his frequent mentioning of using large format cameras. It makes me want to finally try that out. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the Christmas gift!
Vikas Sud
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I bought this book after I saw it being recommended on many of the forums and websites that deal with photography. Many of which had hailed this as a masterpiece. When I received the book, I was a little disappointed as it wasn’t a breakdown of the technical details of the photographs. This immediately led me to believe that it was not meant for a single session reading. So I took my time with it and read about one photograph per day. This was the key that led me to unlock the message of this bo ...more
Christopher May
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of the most interesting and important photography books I've had the pleasure of reading. The technical information about color and light alone would be worth the read but the stories that accompany the text outlining how each photo was imagined, refined and finally executed truly invaluable. Needless to say, the 50 portraits themselves are extraordinary and timeless. This book has changed how I think about my photography. Very, very highly recommended!
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story behind many famous commercial portraits. Interesting anecdotes and artistic information, strangely I find some of these portraits seem very dated in style (and the methods for making them are certainly dated at this point). A valuable history lesson.
Peter Sidell
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
This is a book for people who enjoy good photography or at least good portrait photography. The authors comments about his technique and technical considerations are well Worth the time it takes to read them.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring stories and techniques. Need time to appreciate and probably will read again :)
Jack Baty
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Wonderful, fascinating book.

Reading the stories about and technical approach behind each photo was riveting. I loved every one of them.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"50 Portraits" is a wonderfully constructed book which shows, in fifty examples, the thought processes of the photographer whom David Hobby calls the greatest living portraitist. Hobby's endorsement on his Strobist blog is what brought this book to my attention, and also no doubt thousands of his other followers. The fifty showcased portraits represent subjects from the publicly unknown to some of the political and celebrity movers and shakers of this world. Gregory Heisler is still creating sup ...more
Vince Hemingson
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gregory Heisler 50 Portraits, is a book I can't recommend highly enough. It offers incredibly generous portions of photographic 'meat and potatoes' to the aspiring portrait photographer. I purchased this book last Fall, and have read it through, cover to cover, twice.

50 Portraits is an incredibly useful resource because it takes fifty of Heisler's iconic images and deconstructs every one. Each portrait is a chapter in the book, where Heisler details his assignment, what the editor or art directo
Yulin Zhuang
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My first and biggest take-away from this book was that to make beautiful, impactful images, I need to use an 8x10 viewfinder camera.

Okay, that's a bit of an oversimplification, but a quick scan of the picture references in the back doesn't reveal any pictures taken with any size less than medium format, and most with 4x5 or higher. For a DSLR photographer, that's quite a bit out of reach, and a little discouraging, to be honest. Then again, it might just be gear envy biting me hard.

Still, it was
Ryan Watkins
Heisler was one of my professors at Hallmark Institute of Photography. This book is part coffee table book, part photography how-to book, and part autobiography. Heisler tells the stories behind some of his famous portraits of subjects including Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Newt Gingrich, Denzel Washington, Danny DeVito, Bruce Springsteen, Julia Roberts, Bono, Bill Gates, and many other politicians and celebrities. Examples of the most memorable, and humorous, stories are when he was banned from ...more
Kathleen Messmer
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If I were a portrait photographer, I would be totally inspired by this book. However, since I am a fine art photographer, I am completely smitten by the creative force that is Gregory Heisler. He makes me want to become a portrait photographer. His images, while not only of celebrities, have a quality to them that makes me want to look at them forever. My favorites are his image of Harry Belafonte and Ed Bell (a real live Sheriff from Grants, New Mexico). Grants? Really? But it makes me want to ...more
Brian Page
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Like the work of Yousuf Karsh, Gregory Heisler’s portraits appear deceptively simple, very deceptively. If you think producing images like this is easy, just try it. Better yet, read the book. Heisler combines stories for each image plus a big bonus for photographers: a technical background discussion for each. So there’s something for everyone in this magnificently printed book. If your interest is the artful portraits of celebrities, then the stories add context & substance; and if you’re ...more
Paul Deveaux
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: photography
Heisler is easily one of the best portrait photographers working today. In this book he lets the reader inside his process for 50 incredible portraits. This is not a book about f-stops, shutter speeds, or lighting recipes. Heisler gives you insight into his conceptual process and what happens on location. This is the true work of the photographer. I highly recommend this book to anyone hoping to make photographs of people. It is one of those books that I will revisit from time to time. This is a ...more
Sebastian Szyszka
Great insight into what's important

Gregory does a fantastic job of relegating the technical aspects of his art to the appendix. The focus is where t should be, on the vision and thought that goes into each image. The technical data is there, and it's useful, but the meat is in the thinking behind each image. That's where it all comes together, and seeing that exposed is priceless.
Albert Yee
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astounding collection of iconic photographs from Heisler's long career. He goes though and tells the stories surrounding the single images we normally see in publications. Heisler takes us into his thought process before, during and after shoots occur giving us plebes an incredible look into the world of very high end editorial and commercial photography.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent look inside of the creative process of a talented portrait photographer. There's enough technical information to help a photographer grow their practice, but not a technical manual. Even better was the insights into the choices Heisler made.
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography-art
Can't say enough great things about this book. Heisler has the ability to show his subjects heart in a way that inspiring. A great empath, a technical master and an artist. Wonderful. I can get lost in his images for hours.
Quentin Fennessy
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gregory Heisler is an excellent and creative portrait photographer. He talks about the experience of these celebrity portraits and the techniques as well.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into a professional photographers photo shoots with good technical details.
Steve Losh
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. 50 amazing portraits, each with several pages of Heisler's thoughts and advice. I can tell I'll be rereading this book once a year and learning something new each time.
Gregory Parkinson
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
All photographers should read this book and reread it and reread it again. It's full of what comes from inside to make a good image.
Paul L
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really fun book. The photographs are great, and the stories behind them are often fascinating. Love that every photo has a section describing how it was shot.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Good books are ones that don't leave you even when you keep them back in the shelf...
This book is a collection of priceless experiences.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No need to finish this book to know I had to give it 5 stars! I was sold after the first portrait.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful images, with even more beautiful stories about the process behind iconic photographs. I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2019
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