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The Essence of Photography

Book Description

There is a lot more to photography than simply picking up a camera, pointing it toward something, and tripping the shutter. Achieving a great photograph requires thought and preparation, an understanding of the photographic process, and a firm grasp of how light and composition affect a photo. There must be personal involvement and personal expression. There must be experimentation, with the recognition that only a small percentage of experiments end successfully.

In this book, best-selling author and world-renowned photographer and teacher Bruce Barnbaum explores these seldom-discussed issues by drawing upon his personal experiences and observations from more than 40 years of photographing and teaching. In addition to photographs, Bruce also uses painting, music, and writing, as well as the sciences and even business, to provide pertinent examples of creative thinking. These examples serve as stepping-stones that will lead you to your own heightened ability to see and be creative.

Creativity is a topic that is almost wholly ignored in formal education because most instructors think that it cannot be taught or learned. To the contrary, Bruce has proven that photographic seeing and creativity can be taught, learned, and improved. This book expands on the ideas that are central to Bruce's method of teaching photography, which he has used in workshops for the past 41 years.

Included in the book are in-depth discussions on the following topics:

  • Defining your own unique rhythm and approach as a photographer
  • How to translate the scene in front of you to the final photograph
  • The differences and similarities between how an amateur and a professional approach photography
  • The differences between realism and abstraction, and the possibilities and limitations of each
  • Learning to expand your own seeing and creativity through classes, workshops, and associating with other photographers
  • Why the rules of composition should be ignored
  • How to follow your passion
  • When to listen to the critics and when to ignore them
The book is richly illustrated with over 90 photographs taken by Bruce as well as other photographers.Seeing and creativity are difficult to teach, but not impossible. This very different, perhaps groundbreaking book is sure to inspire photographers of all skill levels-from beginners to seasoned professionals-to think deeply about the issues involved in creating successful photographs.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Introduction
  5. Chapter 1: Finding Your Groove
    1. Discovering and Developing Personal Interests
    2. Photographic Rhythm
    3. How Your Equipment Affects Your Photographic Rhythm
  6. Chapter 2: Your Interests and Your Imagery
    1. Finding Your Photographic Interests
    2. The Starting Point of Photographic Seeing and Creativity
    3. Compositional and Lighting Considerations
    4. Composition
    5. Light
    6. Example Images: Applying Compositional and Lighting Considerations
    7. Eliminating Problems in Advance with Careful Looking and Seeing
    8. Improving Your Seeing with Film
    9. Print Size
    10. Getting Feedback and Responding to It
    11. The Importance of Feedback in Shaping My Work and Yours
    12. Exercise Completed
  7. Chapter 3: Who Are You Trying to Please?
    1. Personal Work versus Professional Work
    2. Pleasing Yourself versus Pleasing Others
    3. Professional Necessities versus Personal Expression
    4. Personal Satisfaction versus Photographic Sales
    5. The Impediments to New and Different Work
    6. Breaking Barriers
    7. Photographs versus Fine Art Photographs
    8. The Power of Photography
    9. Emotional Effects of Photography
    10. The Psychological High of Photography
  8. Chapter 4: Finding Inspiration for Realism or Abstraction
    1. Inspiration from Daily Life
    2. Photographic Inspiration Near and Away from Home
    3. Inspiration from Literature
    4. Inspiration from Music
    5. Interpretation of Realism and Abstraction
    6. Color in Realism and Abstraction
    7. The Importance of Defining Your Expressive Goals
    8. We See Similar Patterns in Different Subjects
  9. Chapter 5: The Heart of Intuition and Creativity
    1. Creativity Requires Preparation
    2. What Drives Creativity?
    3. “Know Thyself”
    4. Applying Insight and Intuition to Photography
    5. Trusting Your Intuition
    6. Finding Opportunities for Creativity
    7. Personal Examples of Creativity
      1. Example #1: The Darkness and Despair Series
      2. Example #2: “Spit Photography”
      3. Example #3: Labradorite
      4. Example #4: Aftermath
    8. Creativity in Unexpected Places
    9. Moving Ahead with Creativity
    10. Pushing Yourself versus Pressuring Yourself
    11. Putting Everything to Use
  10. Chapter 6: Learning Through Photography Workshops and Associates
    1. Photography Workshops
    2. Misguided Education in the Arts
    3. The Benefits of Photographing with Others
    4. Reviewing the Work of Others and Vice Versa
    5. Finding Photographic Associates
    6. Openness from Instructors
  11. Chapter 7: Technical Knowledge, Materials, and Equipment for Creative Purposes
    1. Using Technique for Creative and Educational Purposes
    2. Combining Known Ideas in New and Creative Ways
    3. You Cannot Rely on Good Technique Alone
    4. Materials, Equipment, and their Openings to Creativity
  12. Chapter 8: Breaking the Rules and Following Your Passion
    1. Working with Light
    2. Cedar Breaks, Winter
    3. Rooftops, Heidelberg
    4. Photographing My Passion; Finding Yours
    5. Photography as a Creative Art Form
    6. Defining My Goals; Defining Yours
  13. Technical Information