Despite not being a fan of New Years resolutions, I have always enjoyed a good long-term photography challenge. I've done a Photo 365, a Photo 52, and a number of other challenges throughout the years. For the 2018 calendar year I want to invest in my knowledge surrounding the art of photography. I feel as though I am finally finding my personal style and want to learn more about telling a story, creating a cohesive body of work, and how to become a better critic of both my own art and others. To achieve this I am going to challenge myself to read 52 photography books this year.
This past week I voraciously read The Soul of the Camera by a true inspiration of mine, David duChemin. David is the force behind the amazing website and occasionally weekly podcast Craft & Vision. His weekly lectures are amazing and keep getting better, so needless to say I was excited when I found this book underneath the Christmas tree this year.
David's catchphrase is "Gear is good, but vision is better", and this book is a complete embodiment of that concept broken into twenty-four essays. Topics range from discovering your vision and intent, capturing the best moment, ignoring perfection, and how to critique work. What you won't find in the book is deep discussions about the technical side of photography which I find absolutely refreshing.
I know a lot of photographers, especially those just getting into the practice who are obsessed with gear. The first question they ask me is "what camera do you use?" or "what aperture and shutter speed were used here?" instead of asking more insightful questions about the actual content of the work.
You've got to know how to use the pen and use it well, but when you're writing your poem or your story, it won't be the pen to which your mind goes. And it won't be your pen that resonates with readers; it will be you and your story.
I love this quote, and he uses this metaphor a number of times. When I read a great book I could care less what typewriter or computer was used, I care about the characters & story. The same goes for a photo that catches my eye - I don't care what camera or settings were used, I try to breakdown why it grabbed me, what the artist was trying to say, and what I might do differently. Sure some technical questions might pop up in my head, but those are way down on the list, and not very important to me.
I firmly believe that this book should be issued to every Photo 101 student on day one. It's an amazing collection of writing and deserves to be on every photographers bookshelf. Hardcovers and Kindle copies are available on Amazon, and you can find the rest of David's books on Craft & Vision.