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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Photographers
I just finished reading The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great by Steve Simon, and I'm happy to say that it's one of the best photography books I've read in years. In the Passionate Photographer, Simon presents 10 things that photographers and those that aspire to photographic greatness can do to to improve their photos including a discussion about...
Published on August 29, 2011 by Matt Welsh

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Passionate Photographer by Steve Simon
Simon has some good things to say and I liked that he included exercises at the end of each chapter. I appreciated that he took some time on "Gear and Technical Proficiency" as so many seem to feel that is a mystery when they are first starting out. Perhaps that was the part that made me realize this book was intended for the novice and that all of his steps were really...
Published on December 13, 2011 by Amazon Customer


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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Photographers, August 29, 2011
By 
Matt Welsh (Mountain View) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I just finished reading The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great by Steve Simon, and I'm happy to say that it's one of the best photography books I've read in years. In the Passionate Photographer, Simon presents 10 things that photographers and those that aspire to photographic greatness can do to to improve their photos including a discussion about how personal vision fuels photography projects, how to approach and photograph people, and learning how to focus (you, not the camera) as you shoot and how to manage your own workflow.

The Passionate Photographer is not a technical book on the how-to of working a camera and the author assumes a level of comfort with photographic concepts, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Examples from his own life and body of work illustrate perfectly the points he makes (and his work is very, very good), and even after 25 years of doing photography I found myself getting excited about picking up a camera.

I don't often buy photography books, and even less often recommend them, but I think that anyone with an interest in photography and taking their own work to the next level can benefit from this book.
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128 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Core Reading Material for any Serious Photographer, July 28, 2011
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
As the author of the Strobist blog, books just show up in the mailbox and doorstep several times a week. To be honest, far more often than I would like -- as Strobist is generally not a book review blog. Luckily for me, one of this week's crop was an advance copy of Steve Simon's The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great.

Simon's experience in his genre (documentary photography) rivals McNally's as a lighting photographer. But what makes this book special is Simon's ability to get his tenets across to the reader with clarity as well as passion. The bullet points in the promotional copy above give you a sense of what the book contains, and I won't repeat them here. But they really do not give the book justice.

This book is very hard to describe in a single sentence. The best I can do is this: Passionate Photographer is to the fieldcraft and compass point of being a photographer as Joe McNally's books are to small-flash lighting. And that is saying a lot.

Suffice to say that "The Passionate Photographer" is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. I give it five stars because Amazon won't let me give it six. I think it is destined to become a classic.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book I've been waiting for, October 2, 2011
By 
Rob LaRosa (Las Vegas, NV.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
This is NOT a beginners photography book. I suppose some pros could consider it a beginner's book looking at it from the aspect that it's a great book to read if you are just starting a career in photography or nearing the completion of your studies. However, there are no in depth discussions on the effects of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. There is no discussion about what the buttons on your camera do and there is only brief discussion on traditional compositional techniques (e.g. the rule of thirds). The author assumes you know these things and you should before reading this book.

If you feel you have a good technical and creative grasp of photography but that your knowledge somehow isn't making it from your brain to your eye to your final photos, then I think you'll enjoy this book. The author breaks down ten easy to understand steps to improve your photography. These aren't just quick little tips or tricks, this is a veteran photographer who has gone through the growing pains selflessly giving you the knowledge he's picked up through his experiences. It's the closest you can come to spending a few hours learning from a professional without paying a ton of money for a workshop.

Typically intermediate photography books have taken me about 6 weeks to read. Not because I'm a slow reader but because I've found them lacking or felt the authors holding back knowledge and I've had to force myself to finish when I really didn't want to continue. This is undoubtedly the best photography book I've ever read. The highest compliment I can pay it is that it took me less than a week to read it from cover to cover.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow your photographic passion to become great, September 14, 2011
By 
Mike Hagen (Gig Harbor, Washington) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I spend a lot of time talking about photography gear in my newsletters, blogs, and workshops. People are always interested in learning how to get the most out of their cameras or which lenses to use. Gear is an important part of our photography, but improving our creative skills is of equal or greater importance. For many people, figuring out how tto improve their creative skills can be extremely difficult, so they keep pushing them under the rug. For these folks, it can be much easier to buy a new lens than to diligently work at becoming a better photographer.

Personally, I don't have any desire to be a "good" photographer; I want to be a great photographer. I'm always looking for ways that push me to the next level and Steve Simon's new book titled, The Passionate Photographer, Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great provides a well designed path to great photography.

Steve wrote The Passionate Photographer to inspire us to take a critical look at our own work and then use that knowledge as a foundation for growth. His book helps us take our passion for photography and translate it into strong images through ten specific actions that range from assessing your skills, improving composition, following the light to increasing your shooting volume and sharing your images.

Warning: Following Steve's plan will not be easy. If you seriously embark down the path of the ten steps, you'll spend a significant amount of time working on your craft. These ten steps aren't for the faint of heart or the semi-committed. Steve wants you to get serious in order take your photography to the next level and his book is dedicated to help you get there.

Every chapter is richly illustrated with Steve's own photography from his journalistic and editorial career. He discusses his time-proven methods with segments called "Lessons Learned" and he also peppers the book with anecdotes from other great photographers such as Jay Maisel, Yousuf Karsh, and Jim Brandenburg. In addition, Steve includes significant tips on exposure, white balance, autofocus, and fill flash.

One of my favorite points in the book from Steve is "... following the Ten Steps means working every image, every session, and then ruthlessly editing it down to the very best." This short sentence is a great distillation of what it takes to become great. It takes hard work, tons of dedication and then ruthlessly editing so that only your best work is allowed to see the light of day.

I read a lot of photography books. Most are good, but few are great. Steve's book is great. All photographers should take the opportunity to learn from Steve and his great book.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photography Processes for Beginners, July 29, 2011
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
There are a ton of books about photographic technique, like exposure and composition, which are concerned with camera settings and even at what to point your camera. Fewer books deal with what I think of as photographic process, that is, what the photographer does that is not technique to capture an image. This book clarifies what I mean.

The book talks about a 10 step process, but, after a brief discussion of the idea of a photograph, it is mostly a series of useful tips. They include that one gets better as a photographer by shooting more and more photographs; working an idea by shooting many images from different angles, with different lenses and so forth; working by one's self and concentrating; being bold in shooting portraits; paying attention to the light; editing your images ruthlessly, evaluating one's work; setting goals; and sharing your work with the world. Throughout the author does offer technique tips relevant to the process as when he discusses using the histogram for exposure selection in the chapter on shooting more. The author draws examples from the work of other photographers and artists to make his points, as well as using his own excellent images.

Simon's suggestions all make sense, especially to experienced photographers, and indeed they may occasionally seem to be just matters of common sense. And yet looking back there was a time when I didn't understand that I couldn't improve without taking more images, or that to capture the best photographs I should work alone. To be fair, the author does say that the book is aimed at beginning to intermediate photographers so it should come as little surprise that experienced photographers will already have learned the processes he describes. On the other hand, for the beginning photographer, if you can learn these lessons from someone else rather than from the school of hard knocks, you will be that much further along the road toward better images. Moreover, these are the lessons that one is unlikely to encounter in technique manuals.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and inspiring reading, December 29, 2011
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I heard about this book from reading a recommendation David duChemin, and being a fan of his work, I was eager to see what "The Passionate Photographer" would contain. Normally, I would be quite skeptical about reading a book whose subtitle is "Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great", as it's obvious that there's no real magic formula for producing great pictures. Despite the subtitle, and the fact that the book is really structured as ten chapters, the book really doesn't present "steps" so much as a collection of thoughtful insights into how to grow as a photographer.

This book is partly an inspirational book, partly a technical book, and partly an encouragement/'self-help' book. The book starts off marvelously, with chapters discussing passion, inspiration, and persistence in the pursuit of photography. Simon encourages you to pursue a personal, meaningful photography project as a way to focus your energies and shares a number of stories and anecdotes from his own experience. The ideas here were refreshing and perfect for anyone who feels stuck in a rut.

Chapter 2 contains most of the technical topics, with a collection of some top tips that can improve your efficiency/technique. Out of dozens of technical books I have read, I think Simon did a great job nailing down some of the most useful, relevant, and modern techniques being used in digital photography. Note that this chapter isn't a primer on technical topics, and certainly is not meant for beginners. However, you'll find some great nuggets of information brought together here that you might otherwise only learn from many other separate sources.

Later on, there is a chapter about lighting (specular/diffuse, colour temperature, etc), although this was chapter was relatively weak (more the kind of thing you'd find in a novice 'how-to' book, although perhaps presented better than average). There is also a chapter on portraiture, which was really more about approaching people rather than technical topics. The information here is solid, although the information you find here is similar to what you'll find in many other sources (including duChemin's books).

The rest of the chapters deal mostly with presenting tips on having a goal, an actionable plan, and a positive attitude towards learning and growth as a photographer. Simon gives great (if obvious) advice, like learning from your mistakes, setting goals/following through, etc. There is plenty of encouragement along the way, and reassurance that the best way to improve is to increase the volume of images you take, and to learn from each shoot.

The last chapter deals mostly with the business side of photography, and how to market yourself through channels like social media sites. I think this chapter could have been omitted; it felt more like an interesting blog entry than a chapter deeply connected to the rest of the themes in this book. Nevertheless, this wasn't a bad chapter to end the book on.

If you enjoy reading David duChemin's writing, you'll certainly enjoy this book as well--I certainly did. Highly recommended.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Passionate Photographer by Steve Simon, December 13, 2011
This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
Simon has some good things to say and I liked that he included exercises at the end of each chapter. I appreciated that he took some time on "Gear and Technical Proficiency" as so many seem to feel that is a mystery when they are first starting out. Perhaps that was the part that made me realize this book was intended for the novice and that all of his steps were really common sense, basic information. While I feel there is always more to learn anywhere you look, for me, this book was, generally speaking, a disappointment. However, I still feel it has good merit for the beginner. It is straight forward and presented in a well-organized manner and his suggestions are certainly good practice. The book will give some direction to the novice and will no doubt serve to make them better photographers. For those with more experience Simon does have something to say; however, to that group, I would suggest you check the book out of the library instead of buying: it is worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping You Get Better Than 'Good', September 3, 2011
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This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
There are many books containing great photographs and there are many books describing photographic technique. Steve Simon - a long time documentary photojournalist and an excellent teacher - combines the two. If you are starting out you will gain knowledge; if you've been at it a while you will be refreshed; and if you find yourself needing fresh inspiration you will certainly find it here.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for inspiration and motivation!, October 1, 2011
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This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
As the title of the review points out, this is a great book for inspiration and motivation in photography.

I don't think it's for beginners; it certainly doesn't teach you all the basics. Rather, it's for people who want to take their photography to the next level. It's written as a how-to guide (ten steps to improve your photography), but I didn't see that aspect of the book as its main contribution, except insofar as it organizes the author's thoughts.

So what's so special about the book? The actual content of the advice is very good. I also like the inspirational/motivational tone. But I primarily like the way it reads. The author really has a passion for photography, and it comes across. And it does so accessibly. Some people are just better writers than others, and I think Steve Simon is excellent. I like his writing so much that I'd read his next book, even if it were for complete beginners (although I am beyond that stage). As I read the book, I just felt like I was taking private lessons from a friend who happens to be an expert in photography.

Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most useful books on photography I have ever read, January 9, 2012
By 
R. H. Hachadoorian (Great Neck, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)
I have been a SLR photographer for many years using film and switching to a DSLR about 10years ago. I would rate myself as a fairly capable high level amateur photographer. I have purchased a lot of books on photography, and have often put the books down after reading the first couple of chapters and never picked the book again. This is a book that got better as I read it and it was easy to pick up, resume and absorb more and increasingly useful information on photography. If you follow the steps as outlined it can't but help in making you a better photographer. Even though I already know a lot of the information presented in different parts of the book, the way things were presented helped provide a different and very useful perspective on even the stuff I know. I highly recommend this book to even experienced photographers - not just beginners and/or novice photographers. All will benefit in some way from a read of this book.
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The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter)
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