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Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet (Voices That Matter) [Paperback]

by Vincent Laforet
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 20, 2011 0321793927 978-0321793928 1
There is an art to capturing a photo that tells a story. You need to know what belongs in the frame and what to leave out, what to emphasize in the photo that adds to the story, and how to use light, shape, and color all to express meaning while lending aesthetic value to the image itself. Vincent LaforetPulitzer Prize-winning photographer and voted one of the "100 Most Influential People in Photography" by American Photo gives a rare look into the art of photography through his lens as a master editorial and commercial photographer.

This beautiful book contains full-color spreads, with scene details and technical information to help tell the visual stories of larger-than-life life events such as Hurricane Katrina, the Olympic Games, and the war zone of Pakistan. With over 100 photos included, you will gain important insights into how you can achieve similar looks—blending what the camera does with the stories you want to tell.

  • Learn how the principles of photojournalism can be applied to telling stories with a single image.
  • Use light, shape, and color to create rich photos that tell the story as well as add sensitivity to beauty and emotion.
  • Learn how the relationship between foreground and background can be used to creatively produce images with strong impact, and choose lenses based on this discovery.
  • Understand the value of an image and convey a more in-depth story of the subject in any genre of photography, including landscapes, close-ups, portraits, action shots, aerials, and more.
  • Receive an up-close and personal view of the author and his work by watching over 60 videos on the accompanying DVD.   

Frequently Bought Together

Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet (Voices That Matter) + Storytellers: A Photographer's Guide to Developing Themes and Creating Stories with Pictures (Voices That Matter) + The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter)
Price for all three: $95.06

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Editorial Reviews


"Visual Stories blends art, meaningful technical know-how and thoughtful discussion on the role and power of photography to make an impact on society. It’s one of the best photography books I’ve seen."
-Christopher Robinson, Editor, Digital Photo Pro Magazine

"Once in a while a Creative comes along who’s body of work causes anyone who sees it to stop in their tracks. That’s the gift that Vincent Laforet has given us here. Life Through the Lens with Vincent Laforet is an inspiring gift that demands to be on your bookshelf (virtual or otherwise)."
- Dane Sanders, Photographer & Writer,

"99% of the process happens before you even get the opportunity to press the button. As much as anything else, Visual Stories is about that process. It is about previsualizing, planning, cajoling, persevering — and whatever else it takes to transport an image from your mind’s eye into print."
- Scott Bourne, Photographer & Writer,

"Visual Stories will be an instant classic. It is well written and is an easy read for photographers of every level. It contains over 100 of the author’s photos with information on the shot as well as the technical camera settings used. Also included with Visual Stories is a DVD that contains 60 videos that provide a personal view of the author and his work. Here he explains in more detail about his work and how he captured his images. If you want to see into the mind of an award winning photographer and learn from his experiences then I very highly recommend Visual Stories."
-T. Michael Testi, Seattle Post Intelligencer / Blog Critics

About the Author

Vincent Laforet, a three-time winner at the prestigious 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, is a director and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is known for his forward-thinking approach to image-making and story-telling. In addition to having been commissioned by just about every important international publicationincluding Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek,  and Life Vincent is considered a pioneer for his innovative tilt-shift and aerial photography as well as in the field of HD-capable DSLR cameras. Vincent’s blog,, has become a must-read in the industry.

Product Details

  • Series: Voices That Matter
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (November 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321793927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321793928
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vincent Laforet -

Vincent, a three-time winner at the prestigious 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, is a director and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is known for his forward-thinking approach to image-making and storytelling. In addition to having been commissioned by just about every important international publication--including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, and Life--Vincent is considered a pioneer both for his innovative tilt-shift and aerial photography and in the field of HD-capable DSLR cameras. In fact, his short film Reverie, the first 1080p video shot with a still camera, was seen by more than 2 million times on the first week of its release in 2009. Vincent is a member of the Director's Guild of America and a DP with Local 600.

Vincent, who was born in 1975, began his photography career at the age of 15. He started as a photojournalist, honing his abilities by landing internships with newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and with Reuters. By the time he was 25, he had established himself as the youngest staff photographer for The New York Times, and by the time he left, he had a Pulitzer for feature photography under his belt. "His images stir with life," PDN wrote of him in a 2003 "One to Watch" profile. "Athletes are colorful heroes ripped from comic book pages while his wartime photographs successfully wander between the unimaginably large scale and the touchingly human."

In 2005, American Photo named him one of the "100 Most Influential People in Photography," and his work has been recognized in the Communication Arts and PDN annuals and by the World Press Photo Awards, the Pictures of the Year Competition, the Overseas Press Club, the National Headliners Awards, and the Pro-Football Hall of Fame. And the accolades continue to come his way. In June 2010, he was honored with a Gold, Silver, and a Bronze in the Titanium category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for his work as the director on the groundbreaking Canon "Beyond the Still" competition, which he spearheaded with Grey Advertising.

"It's not just the laundry list of awards that sets Laforet apart, though," noted The FStop magazine in a 2010 interview with Vincent, whose fine-art prints have been exhibited worldwide and are part of numerous private collections. "It's his steady and unique growth as a photographer. From shooting weddings [as a teen] to the NBA finals in college to his job at the Times and now his much publicized move to commercial photography and motion work, it's been a long and fruitful evolution."

Since 2006, Vincent himself has charted this evolution on his blog,, which has become a must read in the photographic and filmmaking communities, attracting more than 3,000,000 visitors each year. His combination of candor and expertise have made him highly sought after as a consultant (for companies such as Apple, Canon, Manfrotto, Lexar, X-Rite, and Zeiss), a keynote speaker, and an instructor. Vincent, who has been profiled on CNN and Good Morning America and in dozens of publications, has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and at the International Center of Photography.

He is represented as a commercial director by the Los Angeles & New York Based production company "Accomplice," and as a photographer by the New York-based agency Stockland Martel. Vincent currently resides in Manhattan Beach, California, with his wife, Amber, son, Noah, and daughter, Eliana.

Text by Kristina Feliciano

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Disapointing... January 18, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book since I admire the work that Vincent Laforet produces (photography and film/video). I especially like his perspectives of New York life.

However, I found the book disapointing. There are several repetitions of photographs used throughout the book as though he just wanted to use up the space. Most, if not all the photos, can be seen on his web site. I was looking for more to be included in the book.

It would have been nice to have included more of the story that it took to get the shot. Perhaps even some insight of working from heights, the mental and physical preparation, would have been nice?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photojournalism from an Expert December 11, 2011
Vincent Laforet is a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who was employed by the New York Times for many years and still continues to do contract work for that paper and other publications, as well as commercial work and direction. He is as qualified as anyone to explain the ins-and-outs of photojournalism.

The book doesn't attempt to organize the skills of the photojournalist in a linear fashion. Instead each chapter deals with some aspect of the work, like marrying the story to the aesthetic or the art of lens choice. Each chapter is illustrated with the author's world-class images and his discussion of how he captured them, as well as some reminisces about his career. The photographer discusses his signature work, like aerial shots and the use of tilt-shift lenses. (I never considered that the tilt-shift lens could be used to limit depth of field as well as to increase it!) The book also includes a DVD of Laforet's images, with Quick Time movies of Laforet discussing the images and the technical aspects of capturing them.

I always considered photojournalism to be one end of a continuum with fine arts photography at the other end. The photojournalist's job was to get a photo of the event, without any other consideration, right? Wrong, at least if you are talking about Laforet. Throughout the book he emphasizes the importance of not just capturing the event and trying to tell a story with the image, but also of making it art. Even in Afghanistan Laforet was thinking of the most artful way to capture a photograph, despite fast moving situations. I expect that this kind of photography involves a razor sharp-mind that not everyone will possess. On the other hand, even though he doesn't say so, many of his tips will prove useful to other genres.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Untraditional Look At Photography May 10, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Make sure you buy the actual physical copy of this book and NOT the Kindle edition! One of the best parts of this book is the high quality pictures and the e-ink display of the Kindle does not do them justice.

If you're looking for a photography book that tells you exactly what settings to use to take exact photos like Vincent Laforet, then this is not the book for you. However, this book offers something much more valuable than just how to take pictures - it actually gets into Vincent's head and explains why he took the photographs that he did. I found this to be infinitely more valuable than just a book with technical details. For example, Vincent explains his exact thought process and mental state when taking pictures. The mental state for photography, the how and why an image is taken is extremely valuable and not many people are teaching it. Anyone can learn settings for a camera and how to use the technology, what really matters is knowing when to take the photo.

Read this book, it will help you be a better photographer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, intuitive, easy January 29, 2012
I read plenty of literature about photography, Visual Stories is one of my favorite books now.

Why?, well... each image comes hand in hand with what crossed the mind of the author and what did he want to communicate, the trade-offs that he was confronted with, the composition and the technical solutions that he applied in each case. Images are very nice... but what i find more valuable is that Vincent has coupled them with the story.

I recommend it

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes with a top photojournalist December 18, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Vincent Laforet has had an amazing career (and is still relatively young) and this book (and DVD) give you a sense of what it was like for him to create his well known images and the life of a photojournalist.

The DVD segments each consist of an image, a discussion of the story behind it (this varies from technical challenges to aesthetic approach and goals to logistics to office politics etc), the technical shooting info and then a repeat of the image. On a minor note in regards to the DVD. I agree with a previous reviewer about there being minimal instruction. I would have liked to see the image which is bring discussed while it was actually being discussed so that I could relate his words to the image and not have to try and remember the details of the image that he is referring to in his discussions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 1/2 Stars: Positives and Negatives - a Mixed Bag April 13, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
On the positive side: An image is presented and there is text that tells about making the image, including the technical and artistic choices. Why it was framed that way, why a particular lens was used, the effect he was going for. This is cool. And there are some amazing photos.

On the negative side:
This book contains some things that I know a lot about and some things that I don't. On the things I know about, he gets the facts wrong. (One example: p125 shows a picture of jets which he says were getting ready to leave for a weekend in the Hamptons and that there was a traffic jam. In fact, the jets are parked, not ready to leave (they still have orange covers on their engines). There is a big orange x at the end of the taxi way, signifying the taxiway is closed. It is being used for parking and storage, and is not a line waiting to leave.) The reason this bothers me is it makes me question whether he is getting the facts right on things I don't know about and have to take his word for. The inaccuracies (a plane can't fly in rain, one has to constantly get approval from the tower as they fly around NYC, the Canon 5D MK II being "nearly weightless" to name a few) make me wonder what else is not correct, and undermine the whole book. I came away with some new ideas but also with the thought "let's see if that REALLY is the way he says it is." So, in a twisted way, I guess that is motivating me to get out there and do my own experimenting.

It is an easy read, could be done in a rainy afternoon. This is good in some ways (easy to get through the material) and bad in others (sometimes more depth would be nice).

The book was worth looking at but I don't think it will be one that I return to often.

I have not looked at the enclosed CD yet, but will update the review when I do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Very thought provoking and has you thinking about shooting better. I will read this quite a few times since I have it on my ipad kindle.
Published 9 months ago by Yumiko A. Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars Really wasn't all that crazy about it
I expected to learn more about his techniques, how he selects individual images from his contact sheets to represent the stories being told. Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. A. Herrington
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift
I bought this gift for a loved one who works in the film industry and he loved it! I don't think he put it down for a few days and it's now proudly displayed on our bookshelf.
Published 16 months ago by Stacey
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of paper.
Proof Readers, Publisher all need to find new jobs based on such a sorry product. Does capture some good photos, but appears to have missed english class.
Published 21 months ago by TomW
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book..
The Kindle edition images are not good. The narrative wanders. There are a few worthy tips, but they're far and few between. The cover is cool though.
Published on February 21, 2012 by A. Marks
5.0 out of 5 stars Get insights from the master photojournalist
Visual Stories: Behind the lens contains Vincent Laforet's experiences as a photojournalist. For those who don't know Vincent, He is famous of his video promoting Canon EOS 5D Mark... Read more
Published on January 22, 2012 by Enche Tjin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Insights, Wisdom, & Inspiration of a Great Shooter
'Visual Stories' is my favorite non-lighting photo book of the year. If there's anyone who can talk about the evolution of modern photography as a vocation, it's Vincent Laforet. Read more
Published on December 14, 2011 by Syl Arena
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