Saturday, June 15, 2013

Photographically Speaking by David duChemin

I have been a little quite on the blog lately because I have been rereading David duChemin’s Photographically Speaking. By rereading I mean intently scrutinizing every sentence, every word. When we were first discussing a reading group I mentioned that we would use as a primer the book reviews that I did during 2012 for the NWHPC newsletter. I still think that is a good idea. Re-reading it I am even more convinced that duChemin’s book should be the basis for the discussions.

There are several that are very good writers on photography, Chris Orwig, Michael Freeman, Bruce Barnbaum among them, but no one covers the visual language of photography any better than duChemin. Photographically Speaking is a very well written textbook, with excellent metaphors to make it easy to understand. I can assure you that if you study, not read, not scan through, not look at the photographs and captions—actually study duChemin’s words you will begin to understand what photography is, what it can be and you will understand how to get there.

Like the reading group, Photographically Speaking is not for everyone. It makes a point of the fact that photography is hard. If you wish to stick with the platitudes and conventional wisdoms you probably won’t enjoy it very much. If you don’t really want to think about your photography, likewise. But if you do really wish to have some understanding of how to move your photography forward, to use your photography for self-expression, to create something beyond clichĂ©s, then you will get a lot for your money.

The first half of the book is devoted to explaining the language of photography. In the last half, duChemin takes twenty of his own photographs and does an in-depth discussion on each one. He shares his intent and the elements and decisions that he employed to convey that intent. So not only does he bring you up to speed on the visual language, he shares his working knowledge of that language.

If you wish to purchase Photographically Speaking and are a member of Houston Photowalk I would recommend that you click on the link on the Photowalk home page for Amazon. That way Photowalk gets a kickback that helps Joe provide the quality meet ups to which we are accustomed.

If you wish to read the reviews, they are posted under the More/Files tab on the NWHPC Meet Up site. The Focus articles start in January 2012 and run through December 2012. They are only available to the members of NWHPC so if you are not a member you will need to join and log in.

I have re-read much of it many times and every time I read it I find something that I would like to share with the reading group. If each had their own copy we could go through the chapters and discuss them at the meetings. Just a thought.

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