Scott Kelby, who functioned as executive editor for Captured By The Light, has said some ridiculously upbeat things about the book.  Things like “the best thing to happen to Wedding Photographers in years.”

Kelby is a bit biased in the matter, however, most of the good things he has to say is spot on. Okay, so maybe it isn’t the best thing that has happened to me in years, but it’s a pretty darn good book, one of the best that I’ve read on the topic.

In about 250 pages (that’s the count without the section on album design. More on that later), David Ziser has managed to capture most of the technical aspects of shooting a wedding, explained them, provided photographs, and then sent them on their way, in the form of this book to you, the aspiring wedding photographer, to read, to learn from, and become a better photographer.

Part of the reason this book is so comprehensive is that Ziser has been teaching people how to shoot weddings for years. Another reason is because he doesn’t set out to write a book that covers everything about shooting weddings, just the parts you need to know about. Finally, he doesn’t seek to explain every technique, just his.

His section on lighting, for instance, covers off three views of the face and five lighting techniques. And then he shows us what he uses for the majority of his images, and that’s it. While he could be accused of not exploring and discovering new techniques, he cannot be accused of taking ugly pictures. He’s found what works for him and darnit, he’s going to use that for the majority of his shots. The images he captures are perhaps a little more traditional than a young upstart might do, but they are gorgeous.

Which is not to say that is all he shows you on the topic of lighting. Indeed, nearly half the book is about lighting (as you might expect from the name), just that he establishes quickly that these are the basics, now lets move on.

From here, the book gets into advanced lighting techniques, including his cheating the sync method of shooting, as well as entire chapter dedicated to backlighting, which is one of his signature techniques.

After the lighting section, he discusses his gear. This is usually one of my least favourite parts of the book, and, while it will probably not age well (as always happens), it was actually quite interesting, and caused me to look at my 17-85 with … well, I won’t call it respect, but I have a new sympathy for it. I still want to swap it out for something else, though. And, while it isn’t that important, he doesn’t really get into the whole red dot vs white square issue with the lenses, even though he uses a combination of cropped frame and full framed Canons. Pity the fool who picks up the 17-85 to use on their 5D Mk II because of David’s recommendation, only to find it doesn’t work.

Most of the rest of the book is taken up by Ziser’s wedding workflow and there’s some real gems to be mined here, even by pros. Not everything he says will be applicable to everyone, but be keeping it focused on “hey, this is what I do” and tossing out a whole lot of tips, this section holds its own against the lighting section.

The only part of the book that really fell flat was the last chapter, where Ziser shows of a number of album spreads. Some great pictures, but his album design sensibilities didn’t really mesh with mine. But other than that, this book is a must have.

Captured by the Light

David A. Ziser

New Riders, $54.99 ($34.64 on Amazon)

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