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Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing Paperback – January 9, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

One might reason that the essence of all photographic art is a spiritual feeling for one's surroundings, but what is most refreshing about these two books is that by explaining the relationship between Taoist beliefs and creative photography they explicitly seek an understanding of this connection. Taoism, which may very well be at the heart of all creative work, seems especially relevant to photography, which relies so deeply on the acceptance of a given subject and the light in which it is situated. Nicely illustrated and filled with wonderful insights, both books function admirably as "how-to" manuals, with an emphasis on approach rather than nuts and bolts. In fact, there is little differentiation other than format Ang's book has a larger trim size while Gross and Shapiro's is more compact. Both are highly recommended for general and specialized photography collections in public and academic libraries. Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A great gift choice . . . a treasure trove of inspiration for photographers of any level open to letting a little Taoist creativity into their picture taking."-New Age Retailer "Wonderfully stimulating work on many levels."- the NAPRA ReView
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (January 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580081940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580081948
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.5 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Tao of Photography is not aimed at individuals interested in improving their technical photography skills. Rather it is aimed at the photographer who will be willing to consider reorienting the way that he or she views the world to improve his or her photography and to find opportunities for personal growth through photography.
The book does this by outlining some of the principles of Taoism, an ancient Asian philosophy of life, and then drawing parallels to the teachings of great photographers, like Minor White, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Ansel Adams. Taoist philosophy states that, to be a sage (and, by extension, a creative photographer), a person must harmonize Great Understanding and Little Understanding, that is, the open mind and the discriminatory or constricted mind. What the photographer must do is live in the moment and open his mind to the possibilities in the world. One should escape from the state of constricted awareness. Technique is seen as a possible barrier to better photography.
It has been said that the most important tool of a photographer is the mind. One's philosophical approach to the world may indeed affect the quality of the images that one captures. If, as I believe, this is so, a book that suggests an adjustment of that approach is worth consideration by the serious photographer.
This book convinced me that adopting a Taoist view of the world might improve the quality of the pictures I take. However, my complaint with the book is that having created a desire to explore Taoist doctrine, there were no guide posts as to how to incorporate those principles into my photography or my life.
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Format: Paperback
If you have chased after technical excellence and secured the skills necessary to produce near perfect technical images but realized they lack a soul and imagination then maybe this is the book for you. For many of us who love photography, beyond a hobby or sport or other activity, we will reach a point where we will know how to solve nearly all technical problems. We will have surrounded ourselves with high end gear and have come to realize that the knowledge and gear alone just are not enough. We will have mastered the words and grammer of the visual language but have not mastered the means to take in the world around us and impress it on our hearts and then take that impression with our mind and translate it to the media using our camera. That is a personal journey no book can shortcut for you. And this book does not teach you how to become an artist, no book or school can do that, instead it allows you to see another path, another perspective, in which possibilities can appear before you. It is said that a man can have eyes but not see, have ears but not hear, for some of us photographers we know that is so true, for those of us who seek to see and hear this book is the next step in our personal growth with our camera in hand.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Not only are the black and white photographs beautiful, entertaining, and thought-provoking, but the text is informative, concise, and understandable.
The authors suggest a variety of exercises to improve one's ability to be in the present moment, fully receptive and aware. Obviously, this practice can create a profound shift in one's approach to life.
Therefore, photographers and non-photographers beware: if you follow the suggestions in this book, your life will greatly improve. I highly recommend reading The Tao of Photography, Seeing Beyond Seeing and giving it to everyone you care about. The world will be a better place.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good book for the beginning to intermediate photographer who is having trouble feeling comfortable venturing out and capturing great photographs. It delves into the Tao mindset; how to co-exist living life to it's fullest and also photographing without discrimination. It's great in that it get's you thinking about not just the way(s) that you take pictures, but also perhaps why you do so.
It is filled with great black and white photographs by some of the greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Weston, in addition to the author's own photographic examples. The book is a relatively short and easy read and the photographs take up many of the pages.
1. The size of it is like a coffee table book but paperback. Since there is a lot of text to read, it can be a bit uncomfortable to read (but great to look at the pictures).
2. There isn't really much direct photographic, picture-taking techniques discussed. The book more makes parallels between the Tao philosophies and applies them to photography, but it doesn't outline enough photographic examples of this.
In all, it is a good book however dwells too much on the purely Tao teachings, without providing enough relevant direct examples to photographic techniques and practices.
It did however aid in changing my view of photography and the way in which I photograph now with a very observant, open mind. I did that before, but this book helped remind me to keep on doing it.
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