Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: The Photographer's Eye, by Michael Freeman

It's not the equipment you own. It's what's behind the viewfinder of the equipment you're using that matters. Michael Freeman's book, The Photographer's Eye, is about composition and design for photographers.  It's about seeing, not about owning.

Here's a link to his 2 minute promotional video that appeared in 2009 for this book.  That alone would be enough to get me to read it.  The guy seems to be so likable. 

Here's another reason to read it:  It's the best book on graphic composition for photographers that I've found so far. 

Many of the books out there that purport to teach composition to photographers are instructional garbage. That's why I still consider Greg Albert's book,  The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition, obligatory reading on the subject.  But it's written from a painter's perspective, so it misses the topics that are unique to photography.  Freeman fills in the gaps. 

As a photographer, one should study Albert's book, then devour Freeman's. I try to re-read The Simple Secret to Better Painting every couple of years.  I know I'll be paying frequent revisits to The Photographer's Eye as well.

Freeman's book is packed with illustrative photographs of his own making.  I marvel at the range of images he has to offer us.  But Freeman does something rare as a photographic artist ... he also shows  us his out-takes.  The near-misses are as instructive as the bull's eyes. 

Freeman possesses what seems to be an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of photography and of art in general.  He sprinkles this throughout the book for a bit of additional seasoning.  Without overpowering with pedantry, Freeman refers to other photographers' work in a way that makes me wish he had taken the trouble to get releases to put some of their images in the book along side his own.  But then the book would be something different from what it is, and probably a lot more expensive.

The Photographer's Eye had an immediate impact on the way I take pictures.  I highly recommend it to any photographer who wants to grow as an artist.

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