photowisdom

Author: Lewis Blackwell

Rating: 7/10

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As I've noted in earlier reviews of photographic books, writing about photography isn't easy. Perhaps for this reason, this book takes a very different approach.

Rather than having a single "expert" commenting on the works of various photographers, bound as that is to be influenced by personal author preferences and biases, "Photo-Wisdom" lets the photographers themselves talk about their work. Not surprisingly, the quality of the comments varies a great deal. While some photographers come across as inspiring and engaged, others come across as more "matter-of-fact" and casual, even uninspiring. I first approached the book by reading the comments of every photographer in the series, but soon realized this was a source of incoherency and even contradictory advice. So I quickly switched to an approach where I only read the text of those photographers whose work appealed to me. I found the later approach to be more satisfying. I have to say that the authors did a good job of selecting a representative set of contemporary photographers; all very accomplished on their art as the title suggests. With such a large number of featured photographers, the photo selection is often limited to about three pieces for each (though it varies). For the ones I was already familiar with, I sometimes wondered about the three photos selected. Michael Kenna for example, is one photographer whose work I greatly admire, but the three photos selected for this book were poor representatives of his talent in my opinion. This is of course highly subjective.

The print quality of the book is good as would be expected for a book of photographs. There is much to like about this book and you are likely to find real pearls of "wisdom" inside. It's an enjoyable book if you accept the limitations the chosen format imposes. Recommended.

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