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Book Review: Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom By David duChemin

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The question asked in Vision & Voice is what if your image could communicate only one thing? If you identify this, you would discover your vision for that image. That, in turn, would be the guiding principle that directs both how you capture the image and how you develop it in the dark room. Without this vision, you will likely failing both behind the camera, as well as in front of the computer.

David duChemin’s first book, Within The Frame showed you how to find and express your photographic vision. His second, VisionMongers, examined the pitfalls from making the transition from passion to vocation, and now in Vision & Voice, he will attempt to show you how to identify your vision and through the use of Adobe Lightroom, give you your voice. This book is 272 pages and is divided into 7 chapters.

Chapter 1, “Vision in Focus,” is about the way you see the world. It is about the unique angle that you alone have for seeing the things around you. Once you can grasp your vision and hone your technique, the quicker the mechanics gets out of the way you will work in a more natural and reactive way.

Chapter 2, “Vision & Process,” is about mastering technique so that you can work intuitively. Much of the time this is just about the work. Some days you will create good things, some days not so good things, but these false starts are just as important as the good ones. This chapter is a discussion on defining a vision for an image.

Chapter 3, “Vision & Style,” examines how to take your vision and develop your style. While everyone has a style, and it is great to imitate someone else’s style, you should only mimic to see if there is something that can be adapted to your own vision toolbox. Here you will see how a style is a by-product of shooting thousands or tens of thousands of images until you are able to refine your own way of seeing the world.

Chapter 4, “A Vision-Driven Workflow,” is more than a series of steps dictated by a book to show you how to do things. In the workspace of technology, many times we do things because this technology allows us too. Instead, the vision that we have derived should dictate the workflow process and principles. Here you will see how to hone that inner vision to drive that flow.

Chapter 5, “Voice Training,” is about communication and expression. Inherent in this is the sense of uniqueness. Voice is the method of translating the vision. As with the writer, vision is the idea to be expressed, but instead of pen to paper, it is the use of the photographic tools to put the image to paper. This chapter expresses some of the methods such as the use of color, black and white, shooting RAW, and developing mood,

Chapter 6, “The Means of Expression,” now gets into the software. Specifically Adobe Lightroom, and more specifically the develop module in Lightroom. According to the author, this is his toolbox. In this chapter he goes over through the panels of this workspace so that you are comfortable with these tools and with how they work.

Chapter 7, “20 Visions, 20 Voices,” contains the remainder of the book; more than half. There are 20 images that provide 20 visions in which the author explains both his vision and technique for accomplishing the vision. The author also is kind enough to provide all of these photos for download so that you can work with them as well.

Over the course of his last three books, David duChemin has become one of my favorite authors on books about photography. One of the reasons is because there are a lot of books that attempt to teach composition and style, by going through predictable steps and trying to make it repeatable for the masses. In Vision & Voice duChemin, while respecting the need for the mechanical part of photography, instead tries to bring out the individuals from within the masses.

When you see a photograph by certain photographers, like Ansel Adams, you know it immediately. The reason is that they developed a vision, that while perhaps subtle, is in all of their images. Now when you see something that you want to photograph, there is generally a reason that compels you to take the shot. Vision & Voice attempts to help you discover that reason, so that in the final result, your vision is exposed, and over time it will become part of your signature.

If you have been looking for a way to better express yourself and your vision through your photography, if you want to take your current work to the next level, or if you want to have an enjoyable, inspirational read about photography, then I very highly recommend Vision & Voice.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.