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Lens on Life: Documenting Your World Through Photography 1st Edition

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240821146
ISBN-10: 0240821149
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (May 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240821149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240821146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Masa on September 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are parts of this book that are remarkably well done. First, I think that the layout of the pages is quite nice, well organized, and places the photos in large, easy to see, boxes. Second, there are parts of this book that are brilliant, such as the first part of "Get Inside the Mind of a Documentary Photographer". It provides insights into a number of different photographers and goes into how they approach their work. Each one has some different perspectives.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Loudon VINE VOICE on June 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lens on Life is about documentary photography. The book's aim is to inspire others to take a look at, and capture the world around them. I think this is a large undertaking, and there are moments of success here. As an analogy, I am a person who feels that a cookbook with one or two killer recipes is worth the cost of the entire book. That may be true with this volume as well.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lens on Life focuses on documentary photography: documenting life through photographs. The book aims to teach amateur hobbyists as well as aspiring professional photographers and fine art photographers. The photos in the book range from expensive DSLRs to the iPhone's camera, and use photo editing with software or iPhone apps such as Instagram and Hipstagram.

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.
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Lens on Life: Documenting Your World Through Photography
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