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Authentic Portraits

Searching for Soul, Significance, and Depth

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The most successful portraits take us well beyond the surface of how someone looks and show us the inner essence of who someone is. They reveal character, soul, and depth. They uncover hidden hopes and profound truths, revealing that authentic and deeply human light that shines within. And while technical...
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  • Print and eBook Bundle: $54.99
  • Print Book: $45
  • eBook: $35.99


Product ID: 2122953 SKU: 1132 Categories: , , , , , , , Tag:

Chris Orwig


448 pages









  • Part 1: The Foundation of Authentic Portraiture
  • 01: Authentic Portraits
  • 02: Beneath the Surface
  • 03: The Paradox of Portraiture
  • 04: Harmony and Discord
  • 05: Thread
  • 06: The Search
  • Part 2: The Art of Authentic Portraiture
  • 07: Light and Soul
  • 08: Invisible Light
  • 09: Defining and Cultivating Soul
  • 10: Silence
  • 11: Wabi Sabi
  • Part 3: Mastering Technique, Gear, and Light
  • 12: Finding the Perfect Portrait Lens
  • 13: Exposure Settings
  • 14: Seven Principles of Natural Light
  • 15: Working with Natural Light
  • Part 4: The Sitter and the Subject
  • 16: Finding Subjects
  • 17: Finding and Approaching People You Want to Photograph
  • 18: Pre-Shoot Prep
  • 19: Preparing Yourself
  • 20: Photograph People, Not Labels
  • Part 5: Posing, Directing, and Connecting
  • 21: Defining Your Directorial Style
  • 22: Practical Posing Tips
  • 23: Connecting with the Subject
  • 24: Unlikely Inspiration for Connecting
  • 25: The Four-Step Approach
  • Part 6: Camera Work
  • 26: Composition
  • 27: This to That
  • Part 7: Stepping Up Your Game
  • 28: The Other Side of the Lens
  • 29: Courage
  • 30: Inner Art
  • 31: Gratitude
  • 32: FAQ
  • 33: The Journey Ahead
  • Thanks
  • Image Details
  • Index

9 reviews for Authentic Portraits

  1. Chris Orwig’s manual on portrait photography is among the best I’ve read. His preference for natural light, and his heartfelt and often profound philosophical remarks about portrait photography were really useful and welcome. As well as those issues, Orwig covers the gamut of everything we need to know to do not just flattering portraits, but portraits that reflect the authentic personality of your subject. And you gotta love any book that starts with a Bob Dylan quote. I do like the author’s philosophical foundation for taking photographs to a level of authenticity we often don’t consider. I love when he says that we are all unique but we are all the same. I enjoy a little philosophy with my photography learning 🙂

    I especially enjoyed his sections on complexity, harmony, and discord in portrait photography: for example, not every subject has to be smiling. He urges us to capture the person’s essence. Especially with children, I sometimes have a hard time catching them smiling beatifically – nice to know it’s OK to give my family the less “happy” photos, too 🙂 In his section on the seven principles of natural light, he urges us to use as a little gear as possible. Now I know I love Chris Orwig because less is better for me as well. The author much prefers to use natural light in his portrait photography which is just about all that I use as well. There are plenty of books on studio lights and other artificial lights, which of course are quite useful, but it’s nice to find a large piece on using only natural light.

    I appreciate that the author asks us to take time to more clearly defined our ideal way of working with photography and with light. I don’t know that I take the time to formulate my philosophy enough. Great idea! I also appreciate that he simplifies his discussion of lighting by formulating it into seven well organized, easy to understand principles. And he reiterates that we can create excellent portraits without using any artificial light or much gear at all. That is reassuring to this photog.

    Something I have not seen anywhere else that I can recall is his emphasis on “pre-shoot rituals.” For example, how to bring yourself back to the present with something as simple as breathing in and out when you find yourself too anxious or otherwise in a negative headspace right before a shoot. Excellent advice. The author analogizes the pre-shoot ritual with replacing your depleted batteries with fully charged ones before a shoot. Another first, from my experience with portrait photography manuals: the author talks about how to find models and then how to engage with them so that they trust you. I can’t recall that I’ve actually seen much written on these topics and it’s very welcome. Orwig says that finding subjects/models always has been the biggest hurdle for him.

    The author talks about the fact that when you’re photographing someone, you are, much like in moviemaking, the director. It’s up to the photographer to set the mood and he gives us several directorial options. He makes the comments and suggestion that we try all of the approaches to see what suits us. I found this section in the book entertaining as well as, again, something I haven’t seen elsewhere put quite this way. Posing, the author says, it’s something that requires us to be flexible and to keep learning. In other words, not just memorizing a few poses and using them over and over. And to begin with, of course, we need to set the tone. If we are in a high energy mood or anxious, that will affect the session just as it would if we are calm amid the storm. One trick he said is to ask your subject to mirror the movements and poses you are making. Cutely, in my opinion, the author even illustrates hand signals you can use 🙂

    One of the tips I especially liked is that he tells us to ask questions about our subjects likes, dislikes, interests, etc. so that we can capture part of a story of who the subject is. You could ask the subject to talk about the happiest or saddest moment in their life, or ask about their family and especially their children 🙂

    Orwig includes a section on the camera angle and height when you shoot portraits and points out that we should be intentional as to how we use both. He said holding the camera too high can render the subject small and powerless looking while going really low with your camera could be called the “hero shot“. One of the last things the author discusses is taking self portraits. Something everyone seems to do now! Except that he is saying: don’t take a selfie, instead, reflect something deeper about who you are and make an authentic self portrait. That’s something I want to try mostly because I’m curious as to what I would consider my authentic self to be.

    This is a useful and unique book that I intend to reread more than once. Even if I shoot only family members and animal portraits, I want to do them in the best way possible and this author shows us the way to do that

  2. (verified owner)

    A beautiful book from an author whose work and teaching have inspired my creative journey. Much more than a simple how-to of portraiture, Chris challenges the reader to delve deeper into the subject. I’m looking forward to learning from this book and applying it to my work.

  3. (verified owner)

    I like this book a lot. It’s one that I can identify with. My passion for photography lies in black & white landscapes/travel & street photography. I have always enjoyed capturing the drama of the human face, and the interactions on the street. This is the route I took, to doing portrait photography.

    When Chris Orwig writes about The Authentic Portrait, I can identify with it. He speaks a lot about the almost spiritual side of portrait photography, and I like this as well

    This is the most enjoyable book on portrait photography that I have read in a long, long while. It’s a book with a lot of heart.

  4. (verified owner)

    I was very pleasantly surprised when I received my hard copy of the book. The publication is a high-quality product that makes a welcomed addition to my bookshelf and coffee table when guests are around. Aside from the physical aspects of the book, the contents are likewise of high quality. The material is easy to read, useful and adds to my working knowledge of the subject matter. The portraits included in the book are also quite nice and illustrate well the points made in the text. I’m glad I acquired this book!

  5. (verified owner)

    great book and great style. it really helps with the approach to doing portraits and lets you inside the head of someone who excels at it. Great book. Thanks Rocky Nook!

  6. A beautifully produced and illustrated book on the soul of a portrait. As a more technical photographer, I really enjoyed the specific hints the author presents such as depth of field, composition and positioning the subject to the lens; and all the variables that go along these criteria. Every portrait is different as each subject is different. Therefore, determining the subjects ‘inner soul’ and trying to understand the subject is as important as the technical techniques. This is a must read and addition to any photographer’s library.

  7. (verified owner)

    This is a truly valued book in my personal library. Chris had done an incredible job of teaching the logic and principles that lead to making great portraits. In so doing, Chris covers basic elements of photography so reading this book is like taking a course in photography. Highly recommended and, thanks, Chris!

  8. (verified owner)

    The way that this book combines the practical with the philosophical aspects of how to create meaningful portraits is very helpful. The hard cover makes the physical book itself into a coffee table item, but it is small enough to take with you and read wherever you happen to be. Thank you Chris, for such a thoughtful way to approach portrait photography.

  9. (verified owner)

    Chris does a great job not only teaching available light portraits but how to communicate with your subjects to create an althantic portrait. I purchased this to pass on to a young man trying to find his way in portraiture.

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