FIVE FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS THAT WILL TEACH YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

FIVE FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS THAT WILL TEACH YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

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INTRO

One of the best ways to learn photography and become a better photographer is books. Especially good books. Of course, you can find great youtube channels where you-tubers discus various photography topics, you can go to photography classes, but I found out that to learn something seriously books are still the best. Over time, I read many books, some average, some truly bad. And that is entirely normal, but I decided to select here five books that lifted my photography knowledge the most. I Keep coming to those books from time to time, and I always learn something new from them, or, they inspire me to go out and shoot if I’m in the period when I start to less believe in the importance of photography in my life.

One note here. I bought and read all those books, so this is not some clickbait article where the author select five books, read a few sentences about each of them on the internet and then spill out the article.

Michel Freeman / The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

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After you learn the basics of handling the camera, and how to use it, the first question that arises is how to take better pictures. And the answer is almost always the same-Composition. It’s a single skill, once it’s learned, that will make you instantly better photographer. And this book is, if not the best, one of the best one about composition.

The problem with making good “how to” book about anything is that you need at least two things. You must be good and experienced in that category (great photography), and you must also have the skill to sum and organize that knowledge into readable text and book. So, shortly, you must be a good photographer and an excellent educator/writer. And I think that Michael Freeman is outstanding in both. That’s why he sold millions of books, just because they are great. If you need to pick up only one book about photography composition, pick this one. You won’t regret it.

MAGNUM CONTACT SHEETS

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This book is an instant classic . When I was working with Matt Black in his photography workshops, one of the girls asks him the question. “Can you tell me which of these photos are better than the other ones” He pulled up his eyebrow and said

“Well, sure, I can tell you. But, if you don’t know which of your photos are good and what are not, then you have a serious problem. In this book, we see the best photographers that walk this earth with their selected work. Each Magnum photographer talks about specific project/assignment and shows us the whole contact sheet with pictures that they took during the assignment. We can see that one image that is chosen by a photographer to be published, but also, all the other ones, no matter how bad they are, that we never saw publicly. Looking at these contact sheets, we can learn a lot.

How they work, how they approach the subject and theme, and how even though they are already great photographers, they also need to work hard to get this one great image that rises above others. Also, we learned their thought process in selecting a good photo and ditch all the others. One of the things that novice photographers probably don’t know that editing and selecting photos has the same importance as the actual shooting. As one famous photographer once said:

“ Shoot with your guts; edit with your brain.”

Highly recommended book.

Alex Webb: The Suffering of Light

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I think everybody already knows who Alex Webb is. Magnum photographer, with decades of shooting under his belt, and, of course, one of the best street photographer alive today. But he is also very good at developing and printing his photos, and master in knowing how color complement composition and has a high impact on mood and emotion. The suffering of the light is a feast for the eyes. The pure pleasure of great photos is printed in fantastic quality and collect a significant part of the Alex Webb life work. It’s a big and heavy book. But every time I struggle with my color work, I come back to this book, and I’m convinced again that you can work in color and make pictures that have the same quality as paintings from the old masters from the history — pure art.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers

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This HCB’s cult book is more philosophy than a practical guide. It's a Zen photography experience. But, no matter that is short, every sentence in it is pure gold. Henri Cartier-Bresson is, probably, the most celebrated photographer that ever lived and also one of the founders of Magnum agency that changed how we see our world through photography. In this book, HCB talks about his thoughts and opinions about what is photography for him and how life and photography blend in one singular way of life. You can read the whole book in one afternoon, but you can learn from it your whole life. A must-have!

Kenneth Kobre / Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach

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This book has very practical and down to earth approach. What gear you need to have, how to open the door to photography as a business, how to organize a personal project, how to shoot a video for clients, what newspaper editor wants. It has it all. The amount of useful information is almost overwhelming. It’s not the book that you sit and read from covers to covers. It’s the guidebook that you need to have near you always if you are serious about your photography. And it’s up to date with current trends in the industry (latest edition), so even the longtime pro’s can learn a thing or two from this book. The focus of the book is on photojournalism, but many pieces of information and practical tips are also relevant to the other fields of photography.

And that’s it, folks. These five books are distillation from my years of reading hundreds of books on photography. If you can have only five books about photography in your life, my humble opinion is that these five will be enough for your lifetime learning.

And don't forget to go out on the street with a camera to shoot, if you don't do that, no book will help you!

PEACE & LIGHT

VICKO

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NYLON MARKET : SURVIVAL AND SURREALISM

NYLON MARKET : SURVIVAL AND SURREALISM

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INTRO

Where else in the world you can buy alive goats, lost Renoir from the dusty attic maybe, photo magazines from the 1970-es, used kids toys that are on the edge to look like a pure garbage, fresh fish from the river Danube, facebook page with a lot of followers, or even original knife of the ss general from the Third Reich. The answer is known to almost every Serbian; the name of the place is Nylon Market. It’s the whole world in itself.

HOW IT STARTED

Nylon market was established spontaneously during the sixties of the past century in the Novi Sad, the capital city of republic Vojvodina. At that time it was located on the right side of Temerin bridge, and in the beginning, it was only two rows of placed nylons and old newspapers on the ground, where citizens have brought their old clothes and shoes, old home furniture and all the stuff they could find. After this "wild" years, Nylon Market was moved on the other side of the street, legalized from the City and today it spreads on almost 40.000 square meters.

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GARBAGE MEANS MERCHANDISE

Garbage from the whole Europe and wider become here valuable merchandise for someone. As the old Nylon wisdom says “ Every item has his buyer, you just need to wait long enough.” It`s an essential part of the grey economy of the country, as for many people this place is the only chance to earn some money and feed their families.

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For this ongoing project, I keep coming back to this raw and paradox place, usually with a small camera and try to blend in the crowd. Sometimes, I act like a regular customer, start a conversation, and then ask the people if I can document them and their goods. If you are not careful enough you can get a few punches in the face, because many stolen items are selling here, and generally people don`t like to be photographed. But it’s a fascinating world, and in my opinion, well worth documenting for future generations.

If you are visiting Novi Sad, don’t forget to check this place. You really never know what you can find here.

SHADOW BANNING : HOW INSTAGRAM IS KILLING YOUR ARTISTIC FREEDOM

HOW INSTAGRAM IS KILLING YOUR ARTISTIC FREEDOM

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INTRO

Last Sunday I was shadowbanned from Instagram because of this photo.

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It was fast. Just a few minutes after I posted the picture I got a message from Instagram that my photo is offended (because it contains nipples in one small portion of the photo ) and I was warned if l continue to post this kind of content my account can be deleted. I must admit I was a bit surprised. For me, the photo is nothing special, and certainly not problematic or insulting from my point of view. But Instagram's algorithm doesn't think that way. After an hour or so, I posted another photo, this time “normal” street photography style image, typical for my work. And, I was surprised again, that likes didn’t start to show, as usual, so I checked some of the hashtags and realized that Instagram locked my account in a way that my photos are not showing anywhere except on the feeds of people that already follow my profile. In other words, I am in some digital prison.

WHISKEY THOUGHTS

I sipped myself a big whiskey on a rock in a glass, light up my cigarette, and start to thinking. I come into Instagram “game” late. I used Flickr for years, and like it, but everybody was rumbling that every serious photographer must have an Instagram account, so I open it and start to post the images. In the beginning, I gained some followers, but after a while, it becomes addictive checking feed game, thinking about how to grow my account, you know the drill. And, of course, followers growth stopped, almost entirely. I realized, that it doesn’t have anything with the quality of the photos I posted, but that everything is controlled by algorithm which has the primary purpose of forcing you (gently) to dive deep into a game of posting, scrolling, liking, following, and, of course, to pay Instagram for promote you, and help you to grow. So I paid once or twice around 30$ for "promotion", and for that, I get around 30 followers. Not bad, ha! One dollar, one follower.

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INSTAGRAM, WHAT HAPPENED?

If I honestly think about the time that I spent on Instagram, it was not such a good time, and most of it was not really about photography. Somehow, I fooled myself, that if I post great photos regularly, it’s just a matter of time when someone will “recognize” my talent and I will get some sort of international fame. Of course, none of it happened. If I think objectively about all this small and large chunks of time that I invested in Instagram, it was just wasted time, mostly, killing boredom, or similar feeling like when you are playing some stupid game to pass the time while you are waiting for the bus. Here is the quoted comment from one of the posts on petapixel that summarized it all, better than I can:

“I’m not yet a big fan of Instagram. It seems to be a tiresome endless splurge of chaff. Finding the wheat is not that easy. Then you have image theft, the disturbing trend of paying for placement or reach, people like Richard Prince too. Maybe there is a point to it if you are trying to profit from photography but not if you simply have an urge to create. Trying for likes is self-defeating and actually, way too time-consuming. I’d rather be working on my images or writing (even if no-one sees them) or in the field capturing them because, in my case, the experience comes before, and is more important than, the photograph.”
— Will Goodlet | petapixel comments

or this comment that is even better in describing the current situation

“So we’ve moved from a model where professionals photographers got paid for the use of their images to one where many photographers are happy to give their work away for free to newspapers and news websites, and finally to one where they’re willing actually to pay someone to publish their work? Wow.”
— Tim Gander | petapixel comments

Which brings us to the headline of this article


KILLING THE ARTISTIC FREEDOM


Imagine young Daido Moriyama, in some hotel room, with a Ricoh and the naked girl laying on a bed. And, while he raises the camera to his eye, he thinks " Uh, better not this angle, nipples are visible, I won't be able to post the image to the Instagram."

Let's forget about the "nipples" problem for now. Maybe besides finding "offending" content, Instagram's algorithm works in our favor; it's just we can't see it.

Look at this screenshot.

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Those are my three images with most likes from the whole last year. See any similarity? A lonely man in a dark, gritty surrounding, almost cliché .

If you post an image on Instagram, you surely want people to like it. Maybe your mind is saying " I don't care," but Instagram is not playing with your mind only. It is playing with your emotions, your subconsciousness. So, after a while, your photographic style, composition and the way you treat photography are starting to shift towards images that get more likes and attention. That's because, if your picture is more liked, the algorithm will allow a longer lifespan of that image, and you will then get the opportunity to have even more likes. Plainly said, the application is messing with you, seriously. I read about it, and I just thought that didn't apply to me. But it will crawl under your skin, and it's just a matter of time. I used Flickr for example, for years, and never have any similar experience. Hence, that's why Instagram is so successful as a business platform. For his owners, of course. And, don't fool yourself. Even the great names from the world of photography felled into a game trap: buying followers, checking the feed and likes a whole day, using dirty tricks...


INSTAGRAM, THANK YOU!

I became photographer from the pure love to create and to enjoy the process, and if somebody has told me then that I will put my work and time into hands and mercy of application and algorithm, I wouldn't believe it — one more observation. You can either spend your time creating or consuming. And time is precious. All the time that you spent in absorbing Instagram, that time is lost for creating. We all know it, and too often we forgot that.

I wish to thank Instagram for this warning and shadow banning. It was a clear reminder that I need to focus more on my work and my website perhaps. After all, it's mine, and it's not free because I'm paying for it, but then I can post here whatever the hell I want.

Of course, you can freely comment below…