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Visual Poetry: A Creative Guide for Making Engaging Digital Photographs Paperback – August 31, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0321636829 ISBN-10: 0321636821 Edition: 1st

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Visual Poetry: A Creative Guide for Making Engaging Digital Photographs + People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs + Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (August 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321636821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321636829
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Chris Orwig is a vibrant and authentic individual who brings passion to everything that he does. I would unequivocally recommend this
book to everyone who wants to reach further with their photography or other creative endeavor they cherish.” —Douglas Kirkland

From the Back Cover

A great photograph has the potential to transcend verbal and written language. But how do you create these photographs? It's not the how that's important, but the who and the what. Who you are as a person has a direct impact on what you capture as a photographer.

Whether you are an amateur or professional, architect or acupuncturist, physician or photographer, this guide provides inspiration, simple techniques, and assignments to boost your creative process and improve your digital images using natural light without additional gear.

Chris Orwig's insights—to reduce and simplify, participate rather than critique, and capture a story—have made him an immensely popular workshop speaker and faculty member at the prestigious Brooks Institute. His engaging stories presented as lessons follow his classroom approach and highlight what students say is his contagious passion for life.

In this accessible and beautifully illustrated four-color guide you will:
  • Discover visual poetry in the creative process
  • Use less to say more with your subject matter
  • Learn to see light, color, shape, and expression
  • Understand what gear is essential
  • Create compelling portraits
  • Make lasting memories of your family and kids
  • Capture the outdoors and adventure
  • Begin the transition from amateur to professional
Chris also includes exclusive interviews with such photographers as: Steve McCurry, Chris Rainier, John Sexton, Rodney Smith, Joyce Tenneson, John Paul Caponigro, Marc Riboud, and Pete Turner.

Share your work with the author and other readers at and visit the Web site:

More About the Author

Chris Orwig is a visual artist who brings passion to all that he does. He is a pro photographer, interactive designer, author, speaker and on the faculty of the world-renowned Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. Apart from his professional endeavors, Chris enjoys getting out in the great outdoors any way he can - from mountain biking, cycling, camping, surfing, kayaking, snow camping, backpacking, running, etc. He currently lives in SB with his three favorite girls - his wife and (very cute) daughters!

For more inspiration visit:
- - portfolio
- - blog
- - book companion site
- - TEDx presentation

Customer Reviews

AND, I am excited to read and reread this book.
Anthropologie Mom
There is a personal journey for every artist; Chris Orwig's Visual Poetry documents more than one path by which to examine inspiration, motivation, and achievement.
E. McConkie
This book great for anyone looking to find inspiration, amateur or pro.
Matthew S. Chenot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By R. Caldwell on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished my first of what I suspect will be many reads through this book. I'm initially struck by both the richness and approachability of the content. It's also incredibly inspiring while remaining realistic and practical. The author drew me in with his intimate style, personal accounts, authenticity, and humility while avoiding fluff, filler, and cheese. I will be recommending this to my pro photographer friends, my point-and-shoot friends, and the others in between. To my pro friends, I would expect this book to rekindle the passion that was once the reason they started shooting seriously. To the others, I believe this could be the book that will provide that extra something needed to take photos that truly capture. This book challenged me as a creative person and photographer, but also as a father, spouse, traveler, and friend.

I had been anticipating this book for a while as I'm familiar with Chris's work and [...] tutorials, but he has exceeded my expectations. I started perusing the introduction and before I knew it, I found myself in Chapter 4 only to look up and see my camera beckon me from its resting place. This book has reminded me that I'm a creative person daily tempted by uniformity and routine. I'm also reminded that creativity needs to be fought for, invested in, and daily cultivated. The author provides very practical methods and tips to foster and maintain a creative spark. I can honestly say that I'll wake up tomorrow with a polished lens through which to view the world.

It seems Orwig takes somewhat of a minimalist approach to photography. The yuppie and boomer gear fiends tattooed with Nikon logos may miss the value here. He doesn't go into great lengths as to what's in the cookie.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Enche Tjin on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Visual Poetry: A Creative Guide for Making Engaging Digital Photographs is a book written by Chris Orwig, an instructor of prestigious photography school. The approach of this book is workshop style, meaning that Chris will give you tips and tricks in the chapter, then followed by assignment and reference.

The interesting part of the book is when Chris relate literature (especially poetry) to photography. He argues that photography could be a great medium to express or convey a message or story.

In addition, this book discussed many kinds of photography from portrait, wedding, sports, and travel. However i feel that the discussion in each chapter is too general.

This book is geared towards someone who is already have pretty strong basic photography knowledge such as exposure, composition, equipments, but need an inspiration and a push in the back to try out new things.

For beginners, you might be disappointed because there is practically no instruction on how to get those kind of photos. There is no technical information (lens used, focal length, aperture/shutter speed) on each photographs in the book as well.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Ralph Lindgren on October 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that the author loves both his photography and his teaching. The book draws on both to ignite the enthusiasm and creative energies of readers in their pursuit of more fulfilling and engaging photographic work. Anecdotes from his own experiences and those of photographers of his acquaintance that fill the pages are used to excite and enable the reader to enter a more exciting and creative world of photography, as are the references to the books and websites of dozens and dozens of accomplished photo-artists in all the major genre. What is not in evidence is analysis of what distinguishes images that succeed in engaging the energies of viewers and in transforming their ways of seeing. Beyond a paragraph here and there devoted to these matters and the answer that interviews with "guest speakers" reported on what makes a good photograph, there is little guidance on what it is that makes some images sing and other hum. It is energizing to read of the author's bursts of growth as a photographer. It would have been more useful to the reader had he in addition devoted his talents to clarifying just how the reader can become a better critic of his own work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James R. Lowell on November 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Visual Poetry: A Creative Guide for Making Engaging Digital Photographs
The first thing a reader of Visual Poetry will notice is that, unlike most photography books--which are about photographic how-tos--this volume is much more about photographic whys. To be sure, there all the how-tos any photographer could want, but they are primarily in support of the real theme of Visual Poetry: asking the photographer to get in touch with, not only the subjects of his or her images, but also, the reasons behind why the images are worth taking.
Author, Chris Orwig, besides being an excellent photographer, is also a philosopher of photography. This duality is evident in Chris' approach to this book, dividing each chapter--whether it be about "Learning to See," "Action and the Great Outdoors" or "The Path to Becoming a Professional"--into the following sections:
* Inspiration
* Practical Tips
* Gear at a Glance
* Workshop Assignments
* Guest Speakers
Chris asks photographers to become involved in each image they make: to make conscious decisions about--among other things--what to include, what to leave out, whether to make an image subject obvious or abstract and which lens to use to best accomplish a picture's intent. And to help the reader along, he provides practical, guided exercises (Workshops) to get the reader up out of his or her chair and trying out new techniques.
For me, an added bonus to Visual Poetry was the author's inclusion of cameo lectures by other well-known photographers, such as, Joyce Tenneson, Steve McCurry and Douglas Kirkland. They share both personal anecdotes and photographic approaches that help further encourage the reader to learn new skills.
Chris' book is not a quick read, but neither is it intended to be read straight through, cover to cover. Rather, its goal is, Workshop by Workshop, to get the reader behind the camera and actually creating his or her own visual poetry.
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