New at Amazon: Minimalist Lighting, by Kirk Tuck

Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography is a new book by Austin-based commercial photographer (and long-time Strobist reader) Kirk Tuck.

For those of you looking to grow the small-light thing into a practice of shooting for editorial, corporate and advertising clients, Kirk's book serves as a road map in his effort to show you his lighting gear choices, philosophy and techniques.

The book begins by chronicling Kirk's own transition from Big Lights to using small flashes for his assignments. From there it grows into a full discussion of specific small flash gear and demonstrated lighting styles.

Minimalist Lighting is not a book on theory. It is nuts-and-bolts book with lots of examples, setup shots and lighting diagrams. Kirk also gets into DIY, talking about things like lighting with shower curtains, making your own high-capacity battery packs and waterproofing flashes with baggies.

He covers all the bases on various synching options, stands, clamps, light mods -- and a section on wireless TTL. There was even a piece on how to secure a flash to a wall using one of those little AS-19 flash feet and some tape. (I had never thought of that, actually.)

There are lots of books on light and lighting. But to my knowledge, this is the first one that specifically addresses so much of what you can do with small flashes while shooting in a corporate/editorial style. It's all about learning to use smaller-power light sources to "go with the flow" of the ambient of a scene, rather than just nuking the whole thing with a gazillion watt-seconds.

If your thing is shooting skateboarders at twilight with their hair engulfed in flames, you'll probably want to wait for the next train. Minimalist Lighting is not about cutting-edge, push-the-envelope visual stuff. Kirk's style is clean an personal, with a corporate look that keeps him busy as a professional shooter in Texas.

But if you are looking for a book to show you exactly how one man is making it happen, and to fill in the gaps in your own skills, Kirk will be happy to show you his way. This is a book for photographers who want to learn how to light clean and corporate, without buying (or hauling around) a ton of lighting gear.

Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography, is published by Amherst Media. It lists for $34.95, but will be selling on Amazon for $23.07. There is also an additional 5% pre-order discount if you purchase before the book ships, which is estimated to be on May 1st.

Kirk's Website:


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Blogger A. Jesse Jiryu Davis said...

Kirk Tuck has a nice website, too: . He favors much softer, less, uh, "flashy" light than most of the images you'll see around here. Most of his portraits seem to have a big soft light to the upper left and a backdrop light or two. I'm interested to see his book, but I under Strobist's influence I've been heading towards harder, more dramatic and ostentatious light lately, and I'm not sure Tuck's style would suit mine.

April 25, 2008 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Robbin K. said...

Just put my order in for that book. Man, you're like Oprah or something..... You say to check it out and then we all do it! ha ha!

Keep up the great work!

Heading to SC (that's South Carolina) anytime soon??


April 25, 2008 1:43 AM  
Blogger Paul Dymond said...

I've had mine on order for a couple of weeks and can't wait till it gets here. That and Joe McNally's book complete a lusted after set. As a mostly natural light documentary travel photographer I'm loving using my off-camera flash for a different look.

April 25, 2008 2:17 AM  
Blogger Mike # 995051296 said...

Looks like an worthwhile read and definitely good material for strobist enthusiasts ;)

April 25, 2008 3:21 AM  
Blogger marco said...

Just bought it from, no customs in Europe.


April 25, 2008 6:10 AM  
Anonymous f15hM4'47 said...

thanks for the tip. that's exactly what i'm looking into right now :-) cheers

April 25, 2008 7:17 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Amazon to be sold out of "Minimalist Lighting" in 3...2...1...

April 25, 2008 8:13 AM  
Anonymous kirktuck said...

David, Thank you very much for the kind review. You do indeed have the "Oprah" effect for photographers as the book immediately shot to #1 in photo lighting books and to #184 on all of Amazon. Amazing. I hope everyone likes the book. My shooting style is what it is but the info is style "non-denominational".

Thank you for inspiring the whole project!!!!!


April 25, 2008 8:56 AM  
Blogger simonSE15 said...

Just ordered mine. It better be good Hobby!

April 25, 2008 9:01 AM  
Blogger DaveRe said...

Amazon is also bundling Kirk's book w/ Joe McNally's "The Moment It Clicks". I bought both - been needing to buy Joe's book, too...

Hey, Kirk, if you ever find yourself in need of an assistant in Austin, feel free to give me a shout! :)

April 25, 2008 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woohoo, another book to read!

Just finished the Trilogy (McNally, Grecco, Hunter and Fuqua). This looks like a great complement to those others.

(I'm Kindstranger in Flickr)

April 25, 2008 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For small flash enthusiasts, California Sunbounce is introducing a nice complement to their excellent reflective panels:

Similar to what Joe McNally does with his Lastolite SkyLites and Bogen Justin Clamps. I will saw, while very pricey, the quality of the California Sunbounce fabrics is without peer.


April 25, 2008 1:21 PM  
Blogger mainfr4me said...

What does it say about a person when they order that and a copy of Batman: Year One?

April 25, 2008 5:05 PM  
Anonymous kirk tuck said...

Guys, further info from today. The book marched all the way up to #20 on the bestseller list. I am stunned and humbled.


April 25, 2008 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, David. Dropped by my local Barnes and Noble and they had a copy on hand! Sweet!!

April 26, 2008 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, thanks for the heads up ont the book... You get a nice acknowledgement in it also!! Speaking of minimal light, I was reading Joe McNally's blog on Venice and he talks about "peeling back" shoot through umbrellas as an effect - Can you ellaborate??

Thanks, Nigel.

April 26, 2008 2:14 AM  
Blogger Giles said...

Sounds like just the book everybody has been wishing and waiting for! I'm sure it will be a great help to many, many people. doesn't seem to be bundling it with Joe's book... or have I missed something?

Well done with the Amazon ratings Kirk - and isn't it interesting to see statistical representation of the power of The Hobby?! :-)

April 26, 2008 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Ross said...

Ordered my copy too. But as a Brit I have to wait a little longer!!!

April 26, 2008 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Beckett Gray said...

It's great to see an Austinite getting some limelight. I remember years back (15) I was working as a professional printer for a lab and Kirk was a client of ours. Super super nice guy with clearly consistent work.

Beckett Gray

April 26, 2008 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Prentice said...

Just wanted to thank you again David. I'm a regular reader (and DINFOS grad). All of my stuff is shot with no more than three SB-800's. If you get a chance, check it out here: &

April 27, 2008 4:33 PM  
Blogger Daniel Han said...

I ordered mine today before runs out of stock.


p.s. when are you coming to Massachusetts, preferably Boston or Worcester?

April 28, 2008 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mine was supposed to ship yesterday, but apparently they're having trouble.

I guess jeremy called it!

May 03, 2008 2:50 AM  
Blogger Joe Holmes said...

Excellent recommendation. The book arrived yesterday and it's just what I hoped -- well-written, clear, simple, and to the point.

May 03, 2008 7:56 PM  
Blogger mainfr4me said...

Just got a message that the shipment for my book has been delayed into sometime in June. Sounds like higher than expected demand!

May 06, 2008 8:41 AM  
Anonymous kreego said...

Is my order the first to go to France? has it for ... August. Is this because you guys wiped out the first run with your orders? ;-)

Patience, patience...


May 06, 2008 9:54 AM  
Blogger Daniel Han said...

Got my copy today from, finally in Canada!!

May 20, 2008 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received my copy a few days ago and am not very impressed to be honest. Most of the book is about the equipment, then a few pages at the end cover "case studies". Apart from a couple of the pictures, they examples aren't very inspiring either. I wouldn't recommend this book to Strobist readers who have read the gear sections of the blog. It may be useful for those who are completley new to the subject, however.

June 05, 2008 12:25 PM  
Blogger Giles said...

@ Anonymous...

Being intrigued, I also ordered a copy of the book because, even as a working photographer, I feel you can always learn from others - and technique is surely one of the best ways to define your style, create impactful pictures, work through testing scenarios etc.

Quite rightly, you say "It may be useful for those who are completley new to the subject". Remember, Strobist has a massive (majority) following of newbies - people who know nothing or very little about creative lighting... so no doubt they will find this book a godsend.

To many people, the switch to using smaller, lighter, compact strobes can be something of a minefield - just what is best/how should you spend your money/what is & isn't necessary? Far from being unnecessary or taking too much space, I think the 'equipment' pages are 100% relevant, as they help to clear up many questions, at the same time allowing photogs to make informed choices about how to spend their hard-earned cash (and, more importantly, how to save it!).

Personally, I haven't used my Bowens monobloc lights for many weeks now - my Speedlight strobes are more than capable for a great number of assignments I tackle... and they are much more forgiving on the back when you have to lug them around a location!

As for example pictures in the book... ok, so they may not be the most inspiring images ever produced but, again, it's all about the technique - and the lighting diagrams go a long way to help you reverse-engineer them.

So, for what it's worth, I would happily recommend the book - both to novices or photographers who are making pictures every day and who just might learn something by keeping an open mind and appreciating other people's work.

The tone of the book is good, it's simply written and has that 'pick up and flick through anytime' feel - with just the right balance of technique and how-to content.

June 06, 2008 7:00 AM  
Blogger Gregoire said...

I just received the copy I ordered from my local Borders and while I've just started looking through it, I can say that I'm looking forward to learning plenty from Kirk! Maybe almost as much as I've learned from Strobist so far...

I have been hoping to avoid the cost of getting monoblock flashes and think this resource will help!

June 13, 2008 9:07 PM  
Anonymous kirk Tuck said...

Dear All,

Thank you very much for the kind comments. The book is doing well and the reviews on Amazon are fun for me to read. So far the majority are "five stars". If you liked the book I would love it if you had time to post a review on Amazon. If you didn't like it you're probably too busy to post a review. I wouldn't want you to go to any trouble.....

I just wrapped up the second book and it should be out in the Spring of 2009.

Best to everyone who took time to write.

Kirk Tuck
Author: Minimalist Lighting

July 12, 2008 12:04 AM  

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