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Book Review: The Print And The Process by David duChemin

The Print and the Process: Taking Compelling Photographs From Vision To Expression is the fifth book in David duChemin’s Vision series. This book began as a small series of digital books that were published under the Craft & Vision banner. It is a book about ideas, thoughts, and techniques about creating photographs. It covers a series of projects that he has done while on his first trip to Antarctica as well as others in North Kenya, Venice Italy, and Ireland.

As with all of his books, the author looks at, and discusses the whys and hows of his own work process as well as those commonalities that it has with others processes. The distillation of The Print And The Process is not to show you the ‘Right’ way to form your images, but rather show how over time the process and the thinking about creating an image can change. The goal is not creating perfect photographs, but instead photographs that move people.

The implied part of the process is that of the print. It is used here more as a metaphor than that of actually creating a print. While the aspect of printing is not really taken up in this book, it is the print that can really reveal the flaws of an image. Starting with the idea that anyone can upload 100 images to a website – irrespective of their real quality, but how many would spend $10 or $20 dollars each to have those same 100 images printed. As the author points out, that alone can be a powerful editor.

The Print And The Process is all about the process to create images that you would want to print. The creative process is just that – a process. It takes work. You begin with intent, then you move some pieces around, you take some shots – ones that you know are not right, but you have to start somewhere, then you change other things up – change lenses, get a different perspective, frame it differently until you are on to something something that is worth creating.

The book is 264 pages and is divided into four chapters.  Chapter One covers his work in “Venice.” Photographers make photographs at different times for different reasons, and in Venice the author was going through personal challenges and spent much of his time alone working on a personal project. At the time he was alone, and the images he took were not to capture the spirit of Venice, but more as a cathartic journey to express his feelings.

This time he was his own client, giving himself four days to shoot an idea – the idea of feeling and nothing more. It was an emotionally driven theme that was based on his reaction to his environment. The output was to be a monograph of a minimum of 20 images based on this theme.

The chapter begins with the series of monographs. Then the author describes the motivation and process that took place during this endeavor. He also describes the overlying processes as well as some of the challenges. Next he looks at the gear and the overall outcome to the project. Finally, he takes you print by print through each one of the images listed at the beginning with a discussion on his thought process on creating it.

Chapter Two, “Iceland,” documents the author’s first trip to Iceland in August 2010, and for this one he set three primary goals. The first was to experience a place that he had never been to. The second was to stir the paint so to speak as he had completed three books in just over a year and he wanted to explore new territory, creatively speaking. Finally, his third goal was to create a body of work about Iceland.

Here he spent three days driving as far north as possible before spending seven days driving back south. The initial three days were used for making notes, observing, and scouting for areas to shoot. The idea was not to shoot it all, but instead to shoot much deeper and take the time to do it well.

As with Chapter One, this chapter follows the same format of images, discussion and insight and then a print by print analysis. The author also discusses the use of tri-pods and filters as well as the potential pitfalls when using them.

Chapter Three, “Kenya,” is where the author works with the BOMA Project -– one of his humanitarian clients. His work here is to photograph the people and show their spirit and how these people not only live off the land, but how they have to do it despite conditions of drought as well as the dangers that come from a land where the desperation to keep one’s family fed can lead to hostile dangers.

This chapter looks at the fact that these first impressions are either the foundation of your vision for your photographs or they can be the obstacles from which you must push through to find your vision. Sometimes you have to learn to let go of your expectations and roll with it, observe, be receptive, and look through things that constantly contradict what you expected.

Chapter Four, “Antarctica,” is about expectations and reality. Your vision comes from meeting a place face-to-face, experiencing that place, and allowing that experience to shape the message and form into your photographs. When the author went to Antarctica, it was with intent and an idea of what he hoped to communicate. The reality was much different.

In fact, his expectations were completely shattered and he had to change his intent for what he was to photograph. What he had thought would be a very monochromatic world, instead turned out to be very colorful with lots of contrasting textures. The point made with this chapter is that as a photographer, you have to go in with intent, but you also have to listen to your subject and hear what they, or it is telling you.

The Print And The Process, like all of duChemin’s work is very cerebral and conversational. He gets into how he works and his thought processes. It is a one-on-on discussion about photography. I really like the layout and the flow of the book. I like the technical challenges that he talks about, and I especially like the print-by-print discussions.

If you truly want to become a better photographer, if you want to become a more deliberate photographer who is able to present your photographs much more clearly and with better vision and expression, then I very highly recommend The Print and the Process

About T. Michael Testi

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

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