First Impressions: Find The Light, by Daniel Messana

Daniel Messana is a New York-based photographer who recently published a menswear photography book.

It’s all centred around a simple concept, encased in the title; ‘Find the Light’. In it, he aims to showcase how simply utilising the concept of lighting can enhance and/or change the dynamics of a shot.

Target Audience: Who should read it?

This book is aimed predominantly at people who are looking to produce better image content for the likes of Instagram and other platforms. In Daniel’s words, it’s written so that the everyday person can learn from it and up their game. The language used is largely non-technical so there are no barriers to comprehension.
Long-time user or just starting out, there’s something to learn for you in these pages.

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Can’t leave without my Mid-day smoke.

A post shared by FIND THE LIGHT (@danielmessana) on

A photograph by the author himself.

Concepts Covered:

The book covers the many uses of light in photography, with a menswear focus, split up into several sections:

  • Understanding Light
  • Creating/Controlling Shadows
  • Direct Sunlight/Outdoor Settings
  • Utilising Pockets of Light
  • Use and Control of Artificial Lighting


Daniel utilises a lot of imagery to illustrate the concepts he’s talking about, which is vital given the subject matter.

Each chapter gives a fairly simple overview of the concept at hand, and uses a multitude of images to show exactly what he’s talking about. Through this, you as the reader can see the results of what is mentioned in the text.

For example, Daniel mentions the difference in visual story that can be made simply by how a light is positioned toward the body or face. I recreated this concept below:

Positioning the single light source at different angles creates a completely different atmosphere.

The book is essentially a primer on how to get your outfit photos to look good, without having to spend a lot of time or money. The great thing about it is the simplicity with which you can try the ideas that are featured.

Shirt and square in the above photos are by John Henric.

What I Learned / Was It Worth It?

If you’re looking to upgrade the quality of your photos, this book is well worth a read and will teach you some important basics in a short time frame. It’s a good way to fast-track the improvement of your visual content quality.

You can easily read this book inside an hour, which means you won’t have to study much either.
Short, sharp and shiny.
Read, practise, achieve.

If you’re already a seasoned photographer or even a somewhat accomplished and experienced amateur, you probably won’t learn anything new per se from the methods and ideas spoken in this book. However, this isn’t a bad thing. At the very least, you get a reminder of some concepts you may have forgotten.
And whether you’re new or seasoned, there are plenty of high quality photos to look at and draw inspiration from. Daniel’s photography is excellent; I have certainly obtained some new creative ideas and fresh inspiration to play with since reading Find the Light.
I had Daniel’s concepts in mind when building my budget home photo studio.

For Aussies and UK residents, you can Find The Light on The Book Depository.

Continue reading…

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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