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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David's best book to date
This is the fourth book of David's that I have purchased (not counting his ebooks over at craft and vision), and it is probably my favorite. I have been teaching an intro to photography course using his within the frame book, but next time I teach this class, I'll be using this book instead. It does a great job of focusing on a something that matters more than f/stops and...
Published on October 30, 2011 by DanielJGregory

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for beginnners
I received this book thinking it would provide inspiration or take my photography to a different level. Instead I received a book that reiterated everything I already knew about photography. It is most definitely not a bad book. It is great if you don't understand the principals of photography and if you are just starting out. But for those of us who have had a (manual)...
Published on January 26, 2012 by D. Avila


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David's best book to date, October 30, 2011
This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
This is the fourth book of David's that I have purchased (not counting his ebooks over at craft and vision), and it is probably my favorite. I have been teaching an intro to photography course using his within the frame book, but next time I teach this class, I'll be using this book instead. It does a great job of focusing on a something that matters more than f/stops and shutter speeds---the vision of the artist and the grammar to talk about it with others.

On of my biggest frustrations as a photographer when talking to others about their work is how little they are able to discuss why they like certain photographs and what it is about those photos that make them unique to their vision. With so many people creating and showing great images, it is not enough to just be a good photographer. You have to be a creative photographer whose work stands out as different from others. I have found that to understand how your work is different and what your sense of aesthetics are requires a vocabulary/grammar to discuss the work so that you can continue to push those elements in your work that are unique to your vision.

David does a good job in this book by helping the visual artist begin this process. The book starts with some background on how David came to this book and what to expect. He spends some time discussing vision and intention in photography; and how vision is often times lost in conversations of gear, technique and tangible skills. In these early pages, much of the conversation is about the nature and intention required in the building of a "good photograph"

The second part of the book looks at two critical components of a photograph. The first is the elements within the image and their impact on the viewer. Elements such as lines, color, repetition and light are discussed in-depth as a language to discuss images rather than as a set of rules that need to be followed to create a good image. The second component is the decisions that are made when the camera is pointed at the subject and the shutter clicks. From lens choice, focus points, to framing and exposure; all these critical decisions are often made very quickly with little thought while shooting. David provides a chance to look at the impact of these decisions, and how we can use our awareness of these components to make more interesting photos.

The third part of the book is a collection of David's images where he spends a lot of time looking at the application of the conversations in the earlier chapters of the book. We get to look at not only a variety of photographs and subjects, but also exactly how David uses these concepts in the creation and post-production of his own images. I found David's openness and honesty refreshing. He is willing to talk about what worked and didn't work for him and things he might change in the future. Having 20 examples of David's work builds a great foundation to start with before taking on your own work.

As I said, I am a fan of David's work; and I think he has an amazing gift to write so that you feel as if you are talking over a cup of coffee. He finds a way to make the conversation seem to be both educational and conversational at the same time. I have found him to be great mentor over the years and look forward to continuing to use his guidance to improve my own art for many more years.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Photographically happy!, October 15, 2011
By 
Steven Shepard (Williston, VT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
David DuChemin doesn't write about photography so much as he does the philosophy, the soul, the love, and the power of photography. His commitment isn't to the mechanics of the craft so much as it is to the link between photography and its impact on the world. All of David's books are inspiring and powerful, but this one goes to another level. Reading the book is like having a conversation with the author, a conversation that leads the reader to a new level of thinking about what it means to be a photographer. As someone who travels to 70 countries every year, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Run, don't walk, to buy it. You will NOT be disappointed.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Message, Elements and Decisions, October 25, 2011
This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
Anyone who has read David duChemin's other books will know why I regard him as a thoughtful photographer. In this book he returns to the starting place, discussing composition.

The beginning of the book talks about photography as a means of communication of the photographer's vision, and defines a few concepts that the author uses throughout the remainder of the book, particularly "Message, Elements and Decisions". The selection of an Element or Decision should enhance the Message. Next he discusses what he calls Elements, like line, light and moment. For Decisions he considers topics like framing, placement and exposure. Finally he presents twenty of his own photographs, explaining how the Elements and Decisions explicate the Message.

Early in the book the author discusses photographers who say they don't need to understand what he means by Message, Elements and Decisions because they say they shoot intuitively. DuChemin charitably suggests that the best of these have probably internalized those elements. The remainder are probably just lazy photographers who would probably most benefit from duChemin's analysis but are those most unlikely to try to understand it. (This harsh conclusion is mine, not duChemin's.)

This is an excellent book and the author's analysis of his photographs will prove useful to readers in trying to internalize the concepts of Message, Elements and Decisions. Sometimes I disagreed with the author's conclusion that a particular technique had enhanced the meaning of an image, but even in those cases, I believed the examination of the technique would ultimately improve my own photography.

The concepts presented are not new and have been presented in many other photography books. In fact as I read, I wondered why he had not stuck to the traditional terms of description and analysis of the arts, like form and content, or technique and product. Although the author does not explain the advantage of a new taxonomy, he obviously feels that it will help the reader to get a better grasp on the underlying concepts. I'm not certain that it does, but on the other hand, it certainly is no worse than the more traditional form. In any event, my own belief is that multiple approaches to concepts help us to get a better grasp, and reading duChemin can only help, even if you are an experienced photographer.

It seems to me that the author's earlier works, like "Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision" served to develop concepts that had not been emphasized enough to photographers. This book covers ground that studious photographers will be familiar with, but the path may be more attractive.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for beginnners, January 26, 2012
By 
D. Avila (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I received this book thinking it would provide inspiration or take my photography to a different level. Instead I received a book that reiterated everything I already knew about photography. It is most definitely not a bad book. It is great if you don't understand the principals of photography and if you are just starting out. But for those of us who have had a (manual) camera in our hands for more than a couple of decades, this book is probably not for you. Hence, the three stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Book for Beginners; Biased Photo Reviews, January 22, 2013
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I am always looking for insights that help me to improve my photography and was expecting David Duchemin's Photographically Speaking to do just that. I think photo critiques are an invaluable tool in teaching photographers what makes or breaks an image and helps to identify pitfalls made when framing or processing a photo. So I was eager to purchase this book when I read that David would be reviewing 20 photographs and discussing what makes them work and assumed he would also point out what doesn't work.

The majority of the book is about the philosophy of photography with the image reviews towards the end. Now, I think this is beneficial to those recently entering photography but for those of us who have been enthusiasts or professionals for some time we already have an understanding of this aspect of the field. I have a hard time believing any photographer who is putting their images on public display didn't think about what the message/point of their image was or why they decided to make that specific photograph, yet David spends a lot of time discussing this very topic. He does touch upon some of the technical factors involved in making a good image, but a lot is left out and if you're already versed in this area David's book won't add any new information. One thing he does mention a lot is image ratios (2:3 vs 5:6) and I've never really seen a photographer spend much time talking about this and I'm not sure what restricting myself to specific ratios adds to my images but I am interested to see how it changes the feel of them.

David's writing style is very verbose and descriptive and is very similar to how I end up writing, that being said he spends a lot of time repeating the same points over and over while taking a great deal of time to get to the point. Again, if you're new to photography this may be beneficial to you but after a while I found myself skimming a lot of the pages.

Towards the end of the book he begins the review of 20 photographs. Now, I didn't read the book description that carefully before purchasing it and didn't realize that all of the 20 photographs would be his. I had assumed some of the photos being reviewed would be David's own but in order to provide better insights one should really review other's images. Obviously David is going to like all of the images he included in his book otherwise he wouldn't have included them. Personally I find most of the photos in the book are fairly bland, they're not bad photos but the subjects and framing are often uninteresting and he applies some post-processing effects that leave me scratching my head without ever explaining why he chose to apply those effects. Post-processing decisions contribute in determining whether or not a photograph is bad, good, or great so for him to leave this topic completely out of the discussion means the image reviews are incomplete. I don't recall him ever saying what he didn't like about an image which he could have more freely done if he had chosen to review other photographer's images, so you really only get partial and one-sided image reviews. He also applies monochrome to all of his images to see if he likes them better that way, this seems to undermine the theme of knowing what you want to express with your photos. Personally I know ahead of time if a specific image is going to be in color or black & white and he seems to use monochrome to "fix" images he took in bad lighting.

If you're a beginner this book would be helpful to you in understanding your approach to photography from a philosophical standpoint and you will learn some basic "rules" of composition and how they can be arranged in order to produce a good photograph. If you're already well versed in photography and you know why you take the images you take then this book likely won't add any valuable information. The images reviewed are so-so (although I think "Unseen Too" is a great photo) and the review is biased as they come directly from the photographer that made the images who also neglects to mention what processing he applied to the image and why.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accountable photography, December 26, 2011
This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
When we all were limited by 24-exposure film rolls, we paid closer attention before pressing the shutter. Today, the combination of quality auto-focus, auto-exposures, the number of images limited only by the size of your memory card, the accessibility of serious photo correction tools in programs like Lightroom and Photoshop has created a generation of DSLR photographers who are little better than prolific point-and-shooters who happen to find a quality picture once in a while amidst a lot of junk. David du Chemin's book emphasizes the responsibility of the photographer for the product of pushing that shutter release. Repeatedly asking the question: "Just what ARE we trying to SAY when we choose to create an image?", du Chemin re-energizes the idea that photography is an art, a form of communication and he preaches consciousness behind the viewfinder.

Using the language of communication, he calls the people who look at the images we produce as "readers', not just viewers and he pushes the photographer to think first about the message he or she wants to convey, and then prompts the photographer to consider the multiple tools available to create the message and communicate it effectively, starting with the basic idea of framing the image in the camera's frame.

The book is refreshing and inspiring as only a good kick in the pants can be. Instead of composing and correcting in post-production, he advocates a conscious act of creation in the camera first. It is well-written and includes images, explanations for what he intended to communicate and full explanations of how he used his available tools to carry out his intended message. I found this to be the very best and most useful photography book I've ever read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David's best book so far, October 23, 2011
By 
Enche Tjin (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
Photographically speaking is about how to create strong photographs by photography composition, how to align visual elements in a frame effectively. The book is divided into three parts. The first part talks philosophically about what constitute a good image. The second part talks about how to compose a picture effectively, and the last part consists of 20 photos with background story and compositional choices.

I think David did a very good job in this book and I think it is his best so far. (David wrote "Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision" and "Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Voices That Matter)". This book remind me of Freeman Patterson's "Photographing the World Around You." But this book has more interesting sample photos. If you like travel/human interest photos, you'll even like it more.

Most photography books are thin and show more pictures that sometimes does not connect to the text. But this book is different. It has plenty of pictures but most pictures are not there only to fill in the page. There are many helpful caption describing how David approach and his decision when when he compose a photo.

I also like the last part of the book where David shows his 20 photos and discuss lengthy about how he approach the photos and how he compose the picture. Overall, this book is a excellent way to learn about composition. It is better than many photography books out there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Design Principles for Photographers, December 30, 2011
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I have been looking for books on design principles for artists, particularly for photographers, but the majority I came across were much too technical (and expensive) and more into architecture or interior design. These could have had some relevance, but not enough for me to justify the expense. When David duChemin's new book Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) was published, I ordered it as I had read his earlier works and gained perspective and skills for my photography. What I did not realize when I bought it, that this was the book I had really been looking for.

While it is intended to give us the language to discuss and analyse image making, it really is a good, clear discussion of the design principles we can keep in mind when choosing the elements we want in our images. The discussion throughout the book centres on how to `read' the image - and in doing so gives an understanding of design principles.

This is NOT a set of rules, but definitely a good discussion of why certain principles work in certain situations. The set of photographs included in the final section is a practical discussion of the elements and decisions within the image, and I used them as a `test' - asking myself the questions raised earlier in the book, then reading the `answers' in the discussion.

I won't be looking for any more books on design principles.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Instructive, November 5, 2011
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This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
In "Photographically Speaking", David duChemin sets out to explain how to 'read' a photograph so that one can understand what makes a photograph successful. As with other books from duChemin, the writing and ideas are exceptionally clear and thoughtful, and there are many excellent photographs to illustrate concepts described in the text.

The book is divided into three parts. In part one, duChemin recaps ideas presented in "Within the Frame" about vision/intent, and provides a framework for understanding photographs. There are some great insights into how to think about photographs. The reader is encouraged to think about the meaning of a photograph and how the message, elements, and composition work together to make the image successful.

Part two is entitled "visual language", and is what most people would think of as "composition". Other books I have read on composition are usually dry and technical, describing elements of visual design but doing little to help explain how these elements are used and what they communicate. I found duChemin's treatment of familiar topics like lines, colour, light, etc to be refreshing and more meaningful than many other books on composition. Instead of just describing the theory, practical aspects of each topic are discussed, and there are a handful of useful exercises in this section to help reinforce the ideas.

The last section presents 20 of duChemn's photographs, and provides David's own commentary about these images. Each image is carefully dissected by examining the different elements and choices made in the photograph, such as the framing, lines, lighting, optics, etc. Whether or not you agree with all of the assessments duChemin makes, the thinking behind the image is instructive to examine. I particularly enjoyed reading and following along with his analysis, and comparing this with my own thoughts.

I found the depth of analysis in this section is a deeper than books like Barr's "Why Photographs Work", and the style is different, but both are useful as instructional tools. One thing I liked better about Barr's book is that there is a greater diversity of images, whereas duChemin exclusively uses his own (many of which long-time readers of duChemin will have already seen in the past). I also found a lot of the analysis in this part focused on the elements and decisions, and less on the overall 'message' of the image and how well it was conveyed. I would have liked to see more discussion, for example, on how a mood was portrayed, and which elements contributed to it. A lot of discussion instead focused on things like lines and framing, and how those elements 'lead the eye', and less on how those things communicated some aspect of the message in the image.

If you've been looking for books on composition, but have been disappointed by the results, this book is an excellent choice to introduce you to the ideas in a practical and meaningful way, and goes well beyond just the raw technical aspects of each concept. As with other books from duChemin, this book does not disappoint, and I can easily recommend this one as well as his other books in the same series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that I hope inspires other photography author / teachers, October 30, 2011
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This review is from: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I have read a multiple of other books that claim to accomplish what David duChemin has done in this book. Unfortunately, they have IMO all failed and I hope that other accomplished teachers of photography are inspired by what David has done here and will write their own conceptually similar books.

This book can be divided into two parts; the first two-thirds are educational in a general sense in discussing various aspects of a photograph, the types of decisions that are made when capturing an image, why some options may be better than others and in helping us to have a language / vocabulary to critically discuss an image. The information that David teaches in these first two-thirds is necessary (and worthwhile) for the final third of this book.

The final third of this book presents twenty images and then spends a few pages on each analyzing them. David explains in depth how he thinks the images work and various issues surrounding his decisions in creating the images in the way he has. He is also not above being critical of his own images at times.

I have read a multiple of books where a photographer might comment on their own images in what they think is an educational manner and I've also read books where a multiple of photographers will comment on each others images (also in a way that they think is educational). All of these books fall woefully short of David's. The commentary and analysis in these books is usually extremely brief (relative to David's book), not necessarily useful or actionable, not relevant to the education process (nice side/back stories), much too superficial and amazingly polite (the authors are friends and wish to stay that way).

If you have ever taken a photography workshop (or class) where the instructor (and other students sometimes) will critique one's work during an image review session then you know that this is sometimes one of the most valuable parts of a workshop. While every teacher is not the most incisive, knowledgeable or articulate teacher, many are and are worth listening to (even if you don't agree with them 100% of the time). This book is the only book (in the final third of it) I've seen which begins to compare to this experience.

I don't agree with everything that David has written and I am not saying that I think every single image in his book is stupendously amazing (they're quite good!!). What I am saying is that I think what he has written is quite worthwhile and is an excellent and a useful educational experience for photographers (of all levels - the back of the book says "intermediate / advanced" and its categorization is probably worthwhile).

There are plenty of great photographers that one can easily name whose work you or I might admire. I would love to hear / read an in-depth critical analysis about why their (or others) images work (or don't work) and the various creative decisions that went into making them. Anyone who calls them-self a photographer (amateur or advanced) is faced with these same decisions and improving our ability to make them is what we all strive for (or so I perceive) if we wish to improve our work. David's book (the final third in particular) helps us along in this direction.

A final note; I've repeatedly harped on the value of the last third of this book. I wish to add that I liked the first two-thirds of the book as well and also thought them to be valuable and worthwhile in and of themselves. I do NOT recommend skipping them if you read this book as they set one up for fully appreciating the last third of the book. I have harped on the last third because it truly stands out from the field (compared with other books). Highly recommended!
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Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter)
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