Masterclass: Professional Studio Photography by Dennis Savini

I just finished reading Rockynook’s latest book on professional studio photography. It’s a book by Dennis Savini, a photographer based in Zürich, Switzerland. Savini believes in teaching photography from experience and as there’s given little importance to vocational training, he decided to share his knowledge with us through this book.

Masterclass: Professional Studio Photography is a rather large hardcover book, an exception in the Rockynook library. Its 240 pages hold a wealth of information on how a studio is run and what you need in terms of art, technique and technology to succeed.

Savini starts with lighting, viewpoints and perspective, which seems odd as most photography books start with a run-down of the equipment used. In Savini’s case, the equipment list is an appendix and rightly so, as it’s a real studio we’re talking about here. The equipment is made up of Hasselblads and Sinars and an odd Nikon or Canon dSLR.

More important to the author is the explanation of principles such as the Scheimpflug principle, of which I thought all photographers would know the implications of. Quod non. Except for that physics principle, Savini also discusses the limitations of studio equipment, including cameras and lenses.

After having discussed the general principles of studio photography, the author takes on the administrative side of running a studio and attracting a market, to only then start an expose of what most photographers will be eager to know about: the practice of studio photography starting with product shots.

From then on, the book covers the common topics we find in every photography book: how too shoot a subject, steps and setup of equipment, post-production. In this book, for each subject the author lists the equipment used and includes a diagram of how the studio kit was set up (where everything was placed, located). It’s like sitting in an auditorium with the teacher at a slides projector.

Because Savini takes you through every conceivable subject category (glasses, bottles, shoes, watches, jewelry, food, drinks, portraits…) the book becomes a real encyclopaedia of studio setups for subject categories. That’s why it’s a good thing this Masterclass book has been given a hard cover. It’s more durable that way, and can be used as a sort of user guide or courseware.

Savini briefly touches on still life as a studio photo subject too, but even without that chapter, this book could be worth its weight in gold for those who are not used to working indoors. The book costs 48.00 Euros.