Tag Archives: photobook

Photography Books Make Great Gifts!

Knowledge makes him young
Creative Commons License photo credit: hapal

It is very much the holiday season, and gifts are often a part of that. As photographers, we like to receive certain types of gifts… sometimes equipment, and sometimes things that inspire or educate us. Equipment can be a difficult gift to give because we’re often very picky about what we want. But photo books and photography books almost always please (and good photo books are great even for non-photographers).

Over the last few years, I’ve reviewed an assortment of books. This post is a gathering of those in-depth reviews. Most of them are photo books (whose main content is the actual photo rather than the paragraph), but I’ve done a few technical/educational books too. So if you’re looking for a gift for a photographer (or anybody with a coffee table really), here are some excellent choices.

PHOTO BOOKS


Reza War and Peace

Reza War and Peace is a book about many things, very deep and emotional. As the title suggests, the book is about war and peace. But it’s so much more than that too. This book is a testimony of humanity — at its worst, and at its best. It is comprised of 30 years of Reza’s work from across the world, and it contains some of the most incredible stories I never knew.

Of all the books I’ve reviewed, this is probably my favorite. Truly great work from a great photographer.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Polar Obsession

Polar Obsession

An intimate view the northern and southern polar regions, including the animals and their environments. Paul specializes in photographing the Arctic and Antarctica with an emphasis on underwater photography, and it would seem that no location is out of his reach.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World

44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World

This book covers the history of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic was born. The major parts of this event took place in a mere 44 days, and David Burnett was there to capture a big part of it. Everything from mass protests, funerals, killings, the fall and rise of power, and everything else associated with the revolution.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


The Life of a Photograph

This is a collection of work from Sam Abell’s experience in the field as a National Geographic photographer. But the book isn’t about National Geographic or the stories covered by the photos — it’s about Sam Abell, his photos, and how they’ve taken on a life of their own.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Odysseys and Photographs

This book is a collection of amazing photographs from four historic storytellers, and many of the images have rarely been seen outside of the National Geographic archives. The four photographers featured exhibit a collective work spanning most of the 20th century. Not only is the work extremely artistic, it’s also historic and serves as a permanent record of the World’s past.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Visions of Paradise

Visions of Paradise is a collective publication from some of the most world renowned photographers of our time. 82 individuals attempt to present the audience with a vision of paradise based on their experience and travels. Each chapter is filled with brilliant and breathtaking imagery as large as life itself. Ranging from one to two page spreads, the photos contained in the book are easily appreciated and adored.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration

Night Vision is a book about urban exploration — or the investigation of man-made places ignored and largely unseen. This includes old “ghost towns” and other sites that have been left to decay out of sight. Troy is a master of urban exploration, and he shares his thoughts and feelings on the topic throughout.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Live, Laugh, Celebrate

This book is a collection of photographs from all over the Earth taken by many different photographers. This format suits the subject well because it allows for a wide display of imagery that wouldn’t be possible from a single photographer. But even with a diverse set of photos such as this, they’re all similar in the fact that they show people living, laughing, and celebrating. A good quick read and easy to get caught up in the photos.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Mothers and Children

Mothers and Children

The photos in the book take us on a trip around the world while showing the many expressions and emotions of mothers and their children. This is a good one to have on the bookshelf or the coffee table.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS


What the Duck: A W.T. Duck Collection

What the Duck: A W.T. Duck Collection

Well… it’s a comic strip book. Don’t expect to find any breathtaking photos or golden nuggets of technical advice. The theme of the comic strip is a duck photographer and his journeys in the business. But you don’t have to be a professional to “get it”, since many of the strips are humorous to a wide spectrum of photographers.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Fundamentals of Photography

Photography is such an expansive subject and it’s quite impossible to cover everything in a single book. Some books focus on very specific topics, but contain in-depth information. Other books are broad, but just skim the surface. Regardless of the style, many informational photography books drone on page after page, leaving the reader in a haze of technobabble and jargon. I don’t know how he did it, but Tom Ang managed to pack an incredible amount of information into this small handbook. Not only is the information valuable, it’s extremely concise and well laid out.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Complete Digital Photography

Complete Digital Photography

The book focuses on the realm of digital photography, addressing those of us currently involved with digital photography and those looking to become involved. Digital cameras have matured over the last several years, bringing with them professionals and amateurs. Good photography is within reach for many people, and this book helps to lay the foundation for this hobby/profession.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

Whether you’re shooting informal family pictures or professional portraits, you’ll likely find new things in this eBook.

Purchase from dPS

Read my full review


Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide

This is a great resource book for the Sony A300 and A350 photographer. It covers just about everything you can find in your user manual, plus a whole lot of practical stuff. New users will benefit the most from this book, as the assignments in Part 3 will familiarize them with the camera in-use.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Read my full review


Do you guys have any other book recommendations? And which books would you like to receive this year?

Link Roundup 06-20-2009

WOW! It’s been a while since I posted one of these things! So here are a few interesting photography links for ya.

Oh… and I heard something about a new iPhone thingy with an updated camera or whatever. As soon as they make an iPhone that shoots medium format film, then I’ll be impressed.

Book Review: The Life of a Photograph

The folks at National Geographic approached me about reviewing an upcoming book from master photographer Sam Abell. The book, The Life of a Photograph, draws on 40 years of fieldwork from Sam and presents readers with a unique view of his work and the life of his photographs. I was also given the great pleasure of speaking with Sam on various topics surrounding his book and photography in general (and that alone would constitute a blog post). So this article is a bit of a mix between a book review and an interview.

The Life of a Photograph can be purchased directly from National Geographic or through Amazon.com.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a paid review, nor has it been reviewed or edited by the book’s author or publisher. The book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge. I am in no way affiliated with the book or the publisher of the book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Life of a Photograph is a collection of work from Sam Abell’s experience in the field as a National Geographic photographer. But the book isn’t about National Geographic or the stories covered by the photos — it’s about Sam Abell, his photos, and how they’ve taken on a life of their own. Sam has long been thought of as one of the most artistic photographers working for National Geographic, and this book is certainly filled with artistic photos — some having been previously published by National Geographic, and some being published for the first time ever.

The book is a hearty 208 pages filled with approximately 200 color photos (except for one). Each of the 11 chapters contains thoughts and anecdotes from Sam as he attempts to answer the question “What gives a photograph a life?” Sam has identified photos that have lasted through time and talks about the reason for this. The book was carefully designed by Sam and his editor to show each photo in a most truthful manner. No images were cropped or otherwise post-processed (except to preserve the image, not fix it). The photos are given plenty of room to be enjoyed, and no image bleeds up to the edge of the page or crosses the gutter of the book. The presentation of his work was of the utmost importance to Sam during the creation of this book.

One unique aspect of the book that stands out is the “two views” presentation seen on many of the pages within. Often times, a particular scene is photographed from multiple perspectives and the publication editors (such as those from National Geographic) have the task of choosing one that works best. The other photos are never seen by readers. Sam brings these photos back into the picture and opens up a whole new aspect of his work by showing “two views” from the same scene. This method of presentation has the effect of slowing down the reader because the visual relationship introduced. It also puts the reader in the shoes of the photographer and the magazine editor. All in all, the “two views” presentation is an amazing part of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Abell began his journey into photography during his childhood mainly thanks to his Father, Thad S. Abell. One of his first life-changing experiences was brought on by a photo Sam took of his Dad with his Dad’s Rollei in 1960. The photo went on to win a prize in a national contest in 1961, and this experience helped to shape Sam’s future. He also mentions that one of his major life-changing experiences was reading a simple book on the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange in the mid-1960′s. He was inspired by Lange’s ability to document the world in an artistic fashion, and Sam’s own work through his career has followed the same example.

Sam began his career with National Geographic in 1967, and has since contributed nearly 40 years of work in the field. Along the way, Sam has published several books of his own (The Photographic Life, Stay This Moment, and Seeing Gardens) in addition to several best-selling National Geographic publications (Lewis & Clark: Voyage of Discovery and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today).

Today, Sam has turned more of his attention to teaching and educating via seminars across the country. He’s also spending a great deal of time editing past photos from his body of work for use in possible future publications. But he certainly hasn’t put down the camera, and he still enjoys taking on side projects in the field and photographing for his personal diary using black & white film (which is the medium that is most dear to this lifelong photographer).

Though my interview with Sam Abell was quite informal, I learned a great deal from this man in just one hour. For a more formal interview with Sam, visit Photo District News for a verbatim discussion.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

Some books are flipped through, where the reader glances at the photos within. Others demand to be read and appreciated, but can still be knocked out in a single sitting. While few photography books require a detailed inspection and re-inspection over many sittings, The Life of a Photograph is definitely one of them.

I do believe that every photographer out there can learn much from this book while being inspired by its imagery. I would even go so far as to say that it’s changed the way I look at photos. Sam’s style is incredibly quiet and simple (just like his approach to photography). Upon first glance, the photos don’t appear to be incredibly special — but then they immediately draw you into them and hit you with a profound sense of interest and meaning.

I leave you with Sam’s favorite quote from the book, as he talks about that 1960 photograph of his father:What I no longer remember is the day itself. It was in color wasn’t it? And the snow I knelt on to compose the picture in my dad’s Rollei — wasn’t it cold or wet or both? Surely we talked afterward — about trains or photography or what we’d do next. But all that has vanished. In its place is this photograph. The photograph is what I remember.

The Life of a Photograph can be purchased directly from National Geographic or through Amazon.com.

Link Roundup 06-21-2008

  • The Nuts and Bolts of off-camera flash – Part 1, Basics
    F/1.0
    Being a Strobist dunce I’m really looking forward to this series that talks about the nitty gritty down and dirty of flash mechanics. This article is an intro to the basic method of firing a flash unit and the common modes of the strobe.
  • 200+ Textures, Brushes, and Fonts: Ultimate Grunge Roundup
    Design Reviver
    If you’re into texturizing or just grunging up your photos, here is a pretty large list of goodies you might be interested in. It’s written primarily for web designers, but photographers can find some useful stuff in there too.
  • Baby Time: Photographing Babies Without Losing your Mind
    digital Photography School
    Six tips for photographing babies — which can be more difficult than it may seem!
  • Creative Commons WordPress Plugin
    Photopreneur
    A great WordPress plugin for you bloggers that allows you to find and publish Flickr photos licensed under the Creative Commons.
  • 5 Ways to Hold Your Viewer’s Attention
    Beyond Megapixels
    Good strong methods for grabbing attention in your photos and directing your viewer’s eyes in the direction you intend.
  • Blurb Photo Books Review
    PhotoWalkPro
    A very in-depth review of the POD book service called Blurb. Filled with lots of screenshots and lays out the basic flow of creating a book with them.
  • Portrait Lighting Cheat Sheet Card
    DIYPhotography.net
    This is a really neat thing to check out if you’re planning on using off-camera flash. Udi put together a cheat-sheet that shows the results of varying the strobe location and angle.