Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review of My Own Book

If I'm going to review all the books I have found about photo styling, I'd better do my own! I'll try to be objective.

"Photo Styling," a career manual subtitled (not my choice) "How to Build Your Career and Succeed," was published in 2006 by Allworth Press, one of the major publishers of books about photography and other creative arts. I completed it in five short months in the summer of 2005, after presenting my proposal and hitting the moment an editor was looking for a book like this. The following spring I held it in my hands.

This book has become the textbook in the course I developed at San Diego Mesa College, and I've received some wonderful feedback about how readable it is, as it's "written in my own voice." I hope I've guided many new and working stylists through a thorough exploration of the career.

While I like it, there are a few things I wished I could improve. The cover image, for one. This photo was taken to be used inside the book to illustrate who is who in the crew. The ghastly combo of magenta and orange on the model wouldn't have mattered there. But on the cover, well, one of my students asked me if it was an 80's shot...

And some reviews on Amazon said the photos throughout weren't so stylish. I wanted to make some text changes the first time I read it. And it was tough to market to the narrow niche of photo stylists out there.

So, it was time for a new edition, which my publisher agreed to this spring. I was ecstatic, with the idea of making it the way I wanted it to be. The writing is nearly complete and a new cover shoot is coming up with photographer Siobhan Ridgway. My deadline is August 31, exactly one month from now.

Enough about me. The new and revised edition will have a new name, "Starting your Career in Photo Styling." A lot has changed in the field since 2006. Digital technicians are part of the crew, social networking is an integral part of marketing, blogs are legitimate, and the question of what to do after styling is valid for more stylists. There are Portfolio Challenges and Research Challenges to expand the portfolio and awareness of new stylists. Prop styling gets its very own chapter. And there will be a very current cover!

As photo styling is being taught in more schools, primarily fashion schools, I hope the book will catch on as an affordable textbook. Spread the word! If you want to follow the progress of this edition, check back here and follow me and Photo Styling Workshops on Facebook.

This is part of a series of reviews of the books available on the career of styling.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Styling Book Review: Food Styling

The debut of Delores Custer's book "Food Styling" was welcome when published this spring. The significant collection of information about food styling was a long time in the making - and it is obvious why it took Delores years to write it. At 398 pages it is chock-full of everything one could want to know about the field.

When I recieved my copy I started reading at the beginning. Before long, I abandoned that ambitious idea. This is not that kind of book. This is the kind of book that one refers to when any piece of information is needed. Let's take a random look.

Page 29, The challenges of styling for live television. Page 136, Things that keep foods moist. Page 173, A glossary of herbs. Page 189, The no-fail pancake toolbox. Page 284, Melting chocolate. And page 357, Culinary happenings, 1950-1997, listing things like when Cool Whip hit the market. How useful for historical research!

One of my favorites is a chart of the popular garnishes and props for each decade of food photography. Included in the book are guides to the workday, tool lists, how-tos for any food you might need to style, and the business.

No, this isn't a book to read, it is a book to use. For anything about food styling. If a stylist needs to prepare for a particular job, the information is there. Thanks, Delores, for a beautiful and thorough guide.

This is part of a series of styling book reviews.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Styling Book Review: The Hair, Makeup & Styling Career Guide

This styling book is a classic; it's been around for years (since 1995) and surely guided many makeup artists and fashion stylists beginning their careers. Crystal Wright conducts portfolio workshops throughout the U.S. for these startup stylists.


Though it's brimming with information, I find the book hard to read. I am distracted by the blend of interviews, checklists, and advertisements on divided pages. Though I have not viewed the latest edition I imagine is a similar presentation.

When Crystal contacted me a number of years about "advertising" in her next edition I was surprised by the concept. But perhaps that is how she is able to publish and update it on a regular basis. It is a useful resource, particularly for makeup artists more than stylists, though a quite different style from my own book.

This is part of a series of styling book reviews.