Why Photographs Work: 52 Great Images Who Made Them, What Makes Them Special and Why

I’ve been thinking a lot about vision, voice and style recently.  Perhaps in part because I’ve been listening to David DuChemin on creativeLIVE.  One of the exercises that David suggests to help develop your vision is to take a look at other photographers work and ask what were they were intending with the photograph.  This and much more can be found in David’s eBook ‘Vision Driven‘.  I’m much more of a techno geek and so delving into this kind of descriptive activity is very difficult for me.  So how to start?

George Barr‘s latest book – Why Photographs Work: 52 Great Images Who Made Them, What Makes Them Special and Why is as good a jumping off point as I can think of.  Each of the 52 photographs is first discussed by George and then the photographer also provides a perspective on the image.  This is quite a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes with some of my favorite photographers – David Ward, Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, & Michael Kenna to name a few.  There are also a good number of photographers here that I wasn’t previously familiar with, such as Christopher Burkett & Michael Levin, whose work is quite well worth further study.

I am reminded that there are other sources for a discussion of making of the images.  Many coffee table photography books have descriptions of the photographers intent at the back of the book, along with the technical details.  Additionally there are a number of ‘Making of . . .’ books worth a look.  Perhaps the most notable is Ansel Adams’s Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs but I’m sure there are others.

Recognizing that I have these resources to hand to help me develop the language skills that I need to describe the intent of a photograph I’m off to practice!

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