Thursday , April 18 2024
Do you really want to become a better photographer?

Book Review: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great by Steve Simon

Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, your photographs fall short of what you would like them to be? You understand the concepts and the technical aspects of photography, but your images still don’t match what you envisioned when you took the shot. The goal of The Passionate Photographer is to close that gap between the images that you thought you took and the images that you really want.

The goal of The Passionate Photographer is to help you determine what you want to say with your photography and then put those thoughts into practice. It is meant to be both a source of inspiration as well as a practical guide to better photography. The Passionate Photographer is 264 pages in length and has 10 chapters.

Step 1, “Passion: An Inch Wide, A Mile Deep,” begins by looking at inspiration. Photography, like any other profession, can become mundane if all you do is the same old routine each day. The evolution of a photographer comes from liberating yourself from this routine by finding a project that you are passionate with. It can come from any number of inspirations, but in the end it has to be able to drive you to pursue your own personal vision

Step 2, “Volume, Volume, Volume: 10,000 Hours: Practice and Persistence,” looks at the fact that the only way to become good at something is to do it – and do it over and over again. The more you shoot, the better you will get at it, the faster you will react, and the more experience will show you what works and as well as what does not work. This chapter will give you ideas that will help you to develop your own style.

Step 3, “Work It: Don’t Give Up on the Magic,” looks at strategies for developing a compositional process while you are still achieving your volume of work. Now you will develop a compositional template to help you determine the best camera positions when shooting, you will see how to “work” the scene, and learn about choices and limitations.

Step 4, “The Lonely Adventurer: Concentration and Never Lingering in Your Comfort Zone,” examines the fact that while it is fun to work with other photographers, you will really find that you can do your best work when you go it alone. The topics examined are about learning to concentrate on what you are trying to accomplish, the development of instinct and intuition, and how to find direction.

Step 5, “The Evocative Portrait: Photographing People Gets Easier,” and while this style of photography can have the most impact, many people find it hard to interact with people and so creating portraits becomes a challenge. This is one of the areas that can help you get beyond your comfort zone. In this step you will learn some lessons in working with people.

Step 6, “Follow the Light…and Learn to Master It,” requires not only strong content, the right angle, the best framing, the perfect moment, the right lens, the proper combination of shutter speed and aperture, but you also need the proper lighting. This can be a pretty daunting task to get all of these elements together at one time. When it happens, so does magic. This chapter looks at all the things that have to do with lighting. This includes color, white balance, following the light, as well as the use of black and white.

Step 7, “The Art of the Edit: Choose Well and be the Best You Can Be,” now looks at what editing really requires. If you choose the wrong photograph, the whole moment can be lost. The more you shoot, the harder it becomes to choose the correct shot because of so many choices. In the perfect world, you would be able to let your images sit around and age, but since that seldom is allowed to happen, this chapter focuses on getting the best from your shots and getting them quickly.

Step 8, “Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses: Never Stop Learning and Growing,” means you have to reevaluate what you have done in the past and how you could have improved your shots. This means taking a critical look at your archive. By examining your weakness’s you can eliminate them and grow as a photographer. This also means you need to understand what was planned and what came about through lucky accidents.

Step 9, “Action Plan: Setting Goals and Creating Strategies,” shows that it is now time to take all the knowledge that you got from the previous eight chapters and create a plan of action to help you follow through to success. The mission for this chapter is to get you to where you want to go with your photography by setting goals and seeing how to reach them.

Step 10, “Follow Through: Share Your Vision with the World,” is really a starting point to becoming successful. Topics examined here include the use of social networks, websites and blogs, as well as through the creation of a book of photographs. This chapter is all about getting the word out.

The Passionate Photographer is a well written book that gets its point across in an easy to understand and easy to follow method while providing a lot of good information that you can build on. Keep in mind that there are no quick steps to success here and in fact most of them take a good deal of time to accomplish – if you intend to take 10,000 shots in the next week, you are probably not going to learn much.

The process that The Passionate Photographer takes is one of common sense that usually comes from experience. If followed closely, this can speed up the process of becoming successful through the focusing of one’s energy to grow as a photographer. If you want to learn how to become a better photographer, then I very highly recommend The Passionate Photographer .

About T. Michael Testi

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

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