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The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos [Paperback]

Michael Freeman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 23, 2007 0240809343 978-0240809342 1st

Design is the single most important factor in creating a successful photograph. The ability to see the potential for a strong picture and then organize the graphic elements into an effective, compelling composition has always been one of the key skills in making photographs.

Digital photography has brought a new, exciting aspect to design - first because the instant feedback from a digital camera allows immediate appraisal and improvement; and second because image-editing tools make it possible to alter and enhance the design after the shutter has been pressed. This has had a profound effect on the way digital photographers take pictures.

Now published in sixteen languages, The Photographer's Eye continues to speak to photographers everywhere. Reaching 100,000 copies in print in the US alone, and 300,000+ worldwide, it shows how anyone can develop the ability to see and shoot great digital photographs. The book explores all the traditional approaches to composition and design, but crucially, it also addresses the new digital technique of shooting in the knowledge that a picture will later be edited, manipulated, or montaged to result in a final image that may be very different from the one seen in the viewfinder.

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The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos + Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
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Editorial Reviews


"Beautifully presented with generous and helpful color illustrations, this book is a very affordable addition to the library of the serious photographer."--Canadian Camera (Feb. 08)

About the Author

Michael Freeman is a renowned international photographer and writer who specializes in travel, architecture, and Asian art. He is particularly well known for his expertise in special effects. He has been a leading photographer for the Smithsonian magazine for many years, and has worked for Time-Life Books and Reader's Digest. Michael is the author of more than 40 photographic books, including the hugely successful Complete Guide to Digital Photography and The Photographer's Eye. For his photographic educational work he was awarded the Prix Louis Philippe Clerc by the French Ministry of Culture. He is also responsible for the distance-learning courses on photography at the UK's Open College of the Arts.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1st edition (May 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240809343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240809342
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 9.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Freeman, professional photographer and author, with more than 100 book titles to his credit, was born in England in 1945, took a Masters in geography at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and then worked in advertising in London for six years. He made the break from there in 1971 to travel up the Amazon with two secondhand cameras, and when Time-Life used many of the pictures extensively in the Amazon volume of their World's Wild Places series, including the cover, they encouraged him to begin a full-time photographic career.

Since then, working for editorial clients that include all the world's major magazines, and notably the Smithsonian Magazine (with which he has had a 30-year association, shooting more than 40 stories), Freeman's reputation has resulted in more than 100 books published. Of these, he is author as well as photographer, and they include more than 40 books on the practice of photography - for this photographic educational work he was awarded the Prix Louis Philippe Clerc by the French Ministry of Culture. He is also responsible for the distance-learning courses on photography at the UK's Open College of the Arts.

Freeman's books on photography have been translated into fifteen languages, and are available on other Amazon international sites.

They are supported for readers by a regularly updated site,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
258 of 262 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the Best Photo Design/Composition Book Available November 3, 2007
Let me start by saying that even though I write photo books for a living (including The NEW Joy of Digital Photography (Lark Photography Book) and Exposure Photo Workshop: Develop Your Digital Photography Talent, I don't know Michael Freeman and have never communicated with him. That said, this is easily the best composition and design book that you'll find--and that goes for professionals as well as hobbyists. This is the first book, in fact, that I can recall that covers these topics with such depth and clarity of thought.

Freeman has long been one of my favorite photo book writers and this book continues his long streak of great reads (his other recent book, The Complete Guide to Digital Photography is also worth owning).I sometimes laugh at how extremely British his writing is, but it's just amusing, not distracting.

The main thing that I like about The Photographer's Eye is that Freeman approaches the subject from a very thoughtful perspective. While the book covers the basic elements (lines, shapes, dynamic tension, balance, etc.) he also talks at length about more emotionally-related issues: chiaroscuro and key, the search for order, reactive thought, etc. These are the concepts that more experienced photographers (and artists) find themselves confronting once they have a solid feel for design elements and construction.

I often find myself wondering if design is more of a thoughtful process or an instinctive one--and I think it's a combination of the two.
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429 of 442 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the best single volume on visual design and composition in years. Painters need a book this good. Freeman's earlier book from the 1980s, "Image," had long held the status, IMHO, of being the best single volume. His new book surpasses the older one by a significant margin.

Freeman is one of very few photographers, or artists of any ilk, who can articulate their art-related thoughts in concrete, accurate, analytical ways, and not in the jargon of so much of what is written about art that lacks any actual content. Not only is he an outstandingly gifted photographer, with dozens of books to his credit, but one who has mastered the grammar of images and is one of the few who can describe how and why visual phenomena work.

This is the most complete volume on this subject out there in terms of numbers of topics introduced and discussed at a reasonable length. It is also the most effective melding of the insights of current Gestalt perception theory with traditional design elements/principles in print. The first 60% of the book deals with the more concrete aspects of designing an image.

The last two chapters marry the other part of composing that is harder to articulate well: the message in a image, or the photographer's intent. Only in this book has an author attempted to define major categories of intent in making an image. And then categorizes the physical and mental aspects of how a photographer goes after, constructs, or recognizes an image - the process.

Throughout the discussions he introduces those aspects of digital imaging that a photographer can use to influence a picture's design.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master-Class on Photographic Composition June 8, 2008
Freeman's journey through the the principles of photographic composition is eye-opening, eloquent, and beautifully published.

This is not a book on the basics of taking "better photos," so those who seek information on exposure, cameras, lenses will not find it here. Nor is such shooting information for any photographs included. In a general book on photography, this would be a major defect, but here such information would only distract from the book's primary subject: the composition of a visual image.

On the surface, photographic composition may seem to be a very subjective and idiosyncratic topic: you may like one thing, I may like something else. And if it's all subjective, merely a matter of personal preferences, tastes, and opinions, why bother writing a book about it? Most books on photography thread gently on this shaky, insecure ground, and their authors usually limit themselves to a few simple, predictable pointers: the rule of thirds, and golden section, with a particular emphasis on golden rectangle.

But Freeman quite clearly believes that, although ultimately each photographer makes their own choice about what composition works best for their photograph, good choices are those that are deliberate (not accidental), and informed by being aware of ALL the possibilities that are available. The Photographer's Eye will give any intermediate or advanced photographer a better awareness and grasp of choices that are to be made.

Freeman starts at the edge of the image (chapters about the frame) and moves inwards. Available formats, for example (4:3, 3:2, square, horizontal vs. vertical, etc.) are all carefully explored through numerous, and well-chosen examples.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving Photography!!!!
I didn't think I'd enjoy this book or photography so much. I rented this book but now I want to buy it so I can refer back to it as I continue my photographic journey after my... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Barbara B.Curry
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book is DRM protected
Published 8 days ago by Don Starr
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about the creative and aesthetic processes of...
This is one of the most impressive books I have found which covers the photographic process, from concept to execution. This is not, however, an easy book to read by any means. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Gregory
3.0 out of 5 stars Probably as good as it gets nowadays
Nowadays you set a photographer in front of a keyboard and they go on and on and on.

With publishing gutting its copy editor department, this is NOT a good thing. Read more
Published 23 days ago by C. Scanlon
4.0 out of 5 stars lots of good inforamtion
It is a little hard to read. It reads like stereo instructions but the principles and ideas contained within are sound. There is tons of great information for all levels. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Bryan Morse
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous easy instruction
Still learning from this book and friends. Was suggested by two independent friends both with that beautiful talent they seem to capture with their lens.
Published 1 month ago by Eve UrAlly
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version lacking
Whereas the Kindle version does have images, they are small and not as revealing as they could be in print format. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brandt Barretto
5.0 out of 5 stars tip
The best thing I read on dpreview among many comments is that if you spend just 10 percent of time and energy you spend on comparing specs on web, on improving your photography... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marko Bogovic
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
I knew about Gestalt theory, but I really wanted to delve deeper. This book gave me more, but not as much as I would have liked.
Published 2 months ago by Mike Khashaiar Kojoori
4.0 out of 5 stars a good book on composition
I looked for a book that deals more with the subject or the content of a picture than with the technical aspects of the equipment. It is one of them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by lesly a.e. dumont
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