Book Review: John Gladman’s Bombshell

As I mentioned in a previous book review, I love to read. But there are other kinds of books too— books that inspire. Regular readers of this blog know I’m a fan (and shooter) of glamour photography and John Gladman’s new book “Bombshell” is page after page of inspiration built around the classic pin-up photographs done in a style that you could see painted on the side of a World War II bomber.

513-D+mWTeL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_This is not a how-to book in the strictest sense; there are no lighting diagrams or technical data about which lens he used to make these dramatic, sometimes humorous but always engaging images. Nope. The images on the page are there to inspire photographer, much as Gladman himself has drawn inspiration from Alberto Vargas’ painting for Playboy. The text is limited with just a brief dedication to his first two subjects, his daughter and I assume a significant other. And then there are a few words about his approach to his work and then it’s off to the races with page after page of images that are both warmly nostalgic and sexy in a 100% wholesome way.

Goldman himself holds three degrees from the Professional Photographers of America: Master of Photography, Master Artists, and Photographic Craftsman. He was awarded the Kansas PPA’s “Photographer of the Year six times, so he’s got the craft of his genre down cold but more than that is how he handles the art and stage direction of his subjects to produce such lively and fun portraits.


The production values of the book are quite high. And while there is no dust cover (something that seems to be a trend in coffee table books, which this is decidedly one) the hard covers and reproduction quality on high quality paper is decidedly worth the modest price, which is a little more than thirty bucks on Amazon right now.

In fact the paper and reproduction quality are so good they prevented me from tearing out pages for my mood wall, so I shot some of my favorites on an iPhone to keep in my studio for additional inspiration. Tip: If you don’t have a mood wall in your shooting space I suggest you get one. A mood board aka mood wall is used by designers and photographers to visually illustrate a style they wish to pursue.

John Gladman is more than a Master of Photography, he’s a master of the pin-up genre and “Bombshell” is book that shows that even a genre this old is till alive and well when placed in the hands of a talented photographer like Gladman.

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.; 1 edition (January 12, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764350552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764350559
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches

Author: Joe Farace

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