- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (May 18, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0240821149
- ISBN-13: 978-0240821146
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,588,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lens on Life: Documenting Your World Through Photography 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Some parts were hard to digest, in that there are many places that the "documentary" photographer is not capturing what exists, but what the photographer cajoles out of the scene. And while the book mentions that there are people who do not believe that a picture stands by itself, but rather has a description that states what the photographer sees, there's one picture where the photographer makes up the caption. One wonders whether accurately capturing the subject or provoking a reaction out of the audience is more important. More precisely, does the phrase "documenting your world" about being accurate or about being an artist?
The second section, "Stretch Your Creativity" has a mix of material that is thought provoking.
Then pages 90-117, the book hits a flat spot. It's out of place, and a sign that the book could have used some more direction to "narrow the subject",
As the book wraps up, there is a mix of great advice mixed up with a travelogue. I think that it would have been stronger to pick one or the other, but the cross between the two made watered it down in both directions. It was hard to decipher if the book's providing direction or a narrative.
Overall, I think that the book has a nice nature to it. It is easy to pick up and read a story or two. I wonder, however, if the book could have been stronger with fewer pages and more focus.
The part I loved the most was the first chapter, "Get Inside the Mind of a Documentary Photographer", where professional photographers are interviewed and we hear about how they came to become a photographer and what they do. Their stories do not only focus on their professional careers and for pay jobs but they talk about how and what they photograph for pleasure. I enjoyed hearing their process and thoughts on the art of photography and was inspired by the photographs.
Chapter two, I feel, is an uneven chapter. Besides tips such as you can find in almost any photography book, there is a section profiling the author's friend Jen Lemen that is about self-portraits which was not a favorite part of the book, it seemed dragged out and was uninspiring to me. Later, a section asks us to think about the story behind a photograph and to try to figure out the action happening without any context other than the image. I did not find this a useful exercise since my observations were sheer guesswork because the subject matter was about foreigners with customs so different than Americans.
The next two chapters, about 60 pages, focus on planning a documentary project. This could be done for fun as a personal project, for an art exhibit, or for a paid job.Read more ›
I most appreciated the first chapter, which profiled other professional photographers - how and why they became photographers, their thought processes, even their equipment.
I also liked Chapter 3 - "Find your Focus" which helps you think about a project or theme, or find your photographic voice. I think this is really worthwhile stuff when you're perhaps having difficulty, well, "finding your focus." These would be those "two killer recipes" that make the book worth the money to me.
There are sections that did not interest me at all, such as "Hunting for Clues to Help Reveal Your Story. Perhaps one photo with this exercise would have been OK, to encourage photographers to look for details, but, given that readers will not know what the photos' subjects or meanings are, 12 photos on this exercise seems excessive.
I also didn't care for the section on turning the camera on yourself: 10 pages documenting a personally angst-filled time for her friend and shooting partner just didn't seem to go with the major theme of this book. It seemed somewhat self-indulgent, to be honest. The section on planning a trip was probably unnecessary; it really just skims the surface, and honestly, each trip would be so different for each photographer, and the rules of the road vary so widely depending on your destination.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this book. I bought this book quite a while ago and read it from cover to cover. It is on my coffee table and I still pick it up and refer to it and love looking at the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Michelle Fischer
If you either want to understand or get engaged with documentary photography, this is a great book for you. Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Eric Hobart
I buy photography books because I want more information on how a photo was taken. I want to know what lens, what techniques, what shutter speeds etc. Read morePublished on July 14, 2013 by Dave Lakhani
What a terrific read.
This is a book about photography. It is FILLED with documentarian or photo-journalistic images from the author, of course, but also by a number of... Read more
I found this book to be very inspirational. The shots are candid shots of ordinary people but the photographer bring out the extraordinary in the shot. Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by M. Johnson
I love photography, but I can never seem to take photos that are inspired as much as those that I see in National Geographic and similar magazines/books. Read morePublished on June 23, 2013 by nashvillegirl
Stephanie Calabrese Roberts has produced an excellent volume on documentary photography. She combines interviews with well-known photographers, and just enough discussion about... Read morePublished on June 22, 2013 by Thom Mitchell