Top critical review
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A book with soaring highs and a mix of lows
on September 23, 2012
There are parts of this book that are remarkably well done. First, I think that the layout of the pages is quite nice, well organized, and places the photos in large, easy to see, boxes. Second, there are parts of this book that are brilliant, such as the first part of "Get Inside the Mind of a Documentary Photographer". It provides insights into a number of different photographers and goes into how they approach their work. Each one has some different perspectives.
Some parts were hard to digest, in that there are many places that the "documentary" photographer is not capturing what exists, but what the photographer cajoles out of the scene. And while the book mentions that there are people who do not believe that a picture stands by itself, but rather has a description that states what the photographer sees, there's one picture where the photographer makes up the caption. One wonders whether accurately capturing the subject or provoking a reaction out of the audience is more important. More precisely, does the phrase "documenting your world" about being accurate or about being an artist?
The second section, "Stretch Your Creativity" has a mix of material that is thought provoking.
Then pages 90-117, the book hits a flat spot. It's out of place, and a sign that the book could have used some more direction to "narrow the subject",
As the book wraps up, there is a mix of great advice mixed up with a travelogue. I think that it would have been stronger to pick one or the other, but the cross between the two made watered it down in both directions. It was hard to decipher if the book's providing direction or a narrative.
Overall, I think that the book has a nice nature to it. It is easy to pick up and read a story or two. I wonder, however, if the book could have been stronger with fewer pages and more focus.