A change is gonna come!
Photography is easy. No really…..I actually think that taking photographs is one of the most easy things to do. You point your camera (or phone) at a person/ object and push the button. That’s it! And you have an instant piece of reality frozen in time, at your disposal. Upload it to your social media of choice and you even have an audience of potentially millions of people. Peace of cake! My grandmother could do it, without any training. Well if she still would be alive that is. Actually billions of people do this on a daily base.
Hhhmmmmm…there must be a catch right?
Well what if you want to take pictures of ’things’ that don’t exist. That only float around as a rudimentary vision in your brain? Where do you point your camera at? When are you going to press the button? When is the elusive decisive moment?
There is still some mystery left in this world and if you look carefully there is also some amazement to be experienced. But you have to look beyond the photograph as a document. Now that’s hard! To unveil a piece of (un)reality that you cannot take for granted. But still, there are some photographers who actually do just this.
This is where the book “Beyond Photography” comes in.
This book is a summary of 42 photographers in the Netherlands and Belgium who embrace imaginative photography for the last thirty years. It counts 280 pages and the book also contains four essays that discuss the theme “beyond photography”. The limits of photography are being examined and stretched. The result are images that reach beyond the pure photographical. It’s a must read!
To me this book is rather special, because there are a whole lot of books that discuss documentary photography, but almost none that deal with imaginative photography. I think it’s time for something new.
Wait…can you hear that? Listen carefully…. a change is gonna come.
Michael Freeman is a british photographer who specializes in Asian culture, architecture and archeology. He has worked for major international book publishers and magazines. He has also worked for the Smithsonian Magazine for more than three decades and published more than 40 assignment stories.
Not only is he a well known photographer but he is also a writer and journalist. His books contain photographs of himself, but he also writes on the subject of photography. One of these books is “The Photographer’s Eye” that I will discuss in this blog.
Very often you’ll find books that describe the technical aspects of the camera. Sort of ‘how to use’ books. Things like:
- What kind of lens should you use
- The effects of aperture and shutter speed
- Color balance
- The use of of camera flash light
This is all very useful stuff, but you rarely ever see books that focus on the less technical aspects of photography like for example, composition. It takes more than sharp focus and correct lighting to turn ordinary photographs into something special. So what does it take to take a good photograph? Although this is a question that cannot be answered so easily, if it can be answered at all, Michael Freeman does a good job in describing the basic principles of good composition. He gives insights into:
- How to frame the image
- Design principles like balance and tension in the framing
- Viewing lines
- Rhythm in the image
- Color in composition
- Perspective and depth
- Intention of a photograph
The book tells you how to take better photographs. A framework of composition ideas if you will, that you can use to your own liking. These aren’t hard rules or anything, but it will make your understanding of what makes a picture work, larger. There’s also a chapter dedicated to the process in taking pictures, with cases studies.
I think this book fills a gap on the market and is a very good step into taking good photographs.
The only thing I was missing was how compositional rules contribute to the ideas that you want to communicate. A technically correct picture is a beginning, a good composition makes the photograph more powerful. But a photograph that conveys a specific idea or concept takes photography to another level. Perhaps I will save this subject for another blog, but in the meantime, I would like to know what you think that makes a good photograph?