Langford’s Basic Photography was first published in 1977 and continues to be updated with the most recent 9th edition published in 2010. This photography book comes highly recommended and is the prescribed textbook for some courses. Michael Langford is a well accomplished and respected photographer and teacher.
“Michael Langford, renowned author, teacher, and practitioner, is a legend because of his skill that balanced art and technique. He inspired and taught thousands as Photography Course Director at the Royal College of Art, London, UK.” (GoodReads blurb)
You would then, given the above, expect this book to be extraordinary and while I will say that it is in fact well written and jam packed with technical details, it was not the book I needed. This book is much more for the absolute beginner. I would recommend it for anyone interested in film photography and film processing since this book covers those areas in great technical detail. I, however, am in love with digital photography and the digital darkroom. Sadly, digital is covered only fleetingly.
I enjoyed the first chapter, What Is Photography, because of the theory element and the references to notable professional photographers and their works. The two chapters on the technicalities of light and lighting were also useful to me. I particularly liked that each chapter had a summary and project section at the end. All in all, though, the book isn’t for me. Too much of a focus on film photography and not enough of a challenge to keep me going. I think there are better books out there for the beginning digital photographer who has chosen the self study route like myself.
The Langford’s Advanced Photography book is the next step after this one and I’ll still have a look at that one to see what it covers because there truly is a great deal of detail in Langford’s style so I’m hoping my disenchantment with this Basic one is purely a matter of mismatched level.
This week the 2015 Man Booker Prize Longlist was released. This is my most anticipated lit prize of the year and you can be sure that the longlist will have a few gems on it. This year I’ve picked two books from the list that I expect to be really good.
The first is The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma. This novel stood out for me because of what Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries and Man Booker Prize winner, said about it: “Awesome in the true sense of the word…Few novels deserve to be called ‘mythic,’ but Chigozie Obioma’s The Fisherman is certainly one of them. A truly magnificent debut.” I’m sold. If that’s not enough for you then how about the New York Times saying: “Obioma truly is the heir to Achebe.” I must read this book! (GoodReads)
The second novel I chose from the MB longlist is The Chimes by Anna Smaill. This novel is set in “a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed. In the absence of both memory and writing is music.” Yes, please! The rest of the longlist will no doubt be taken apart by my fellow book bloggers so I’ll wait to hear what you all have to say before I pick anything else. (GoodReads)
New to my TBR is Visionmongers by David duChemin. This book comes highly recommended for those who want to take their photography into a more commercial direction. duChemin is said to be very readable; with a writing style that is both informative and enjoyable to read. Looking forward to this. (GoodReads)
I recently became aware of the books of John Brockman, publisher of edge.org, who poses a question to some of the greatest and most influential minds of our time and their answers become the subject matter of his books. The truth is I want to read them all. Check them out on GoodReads and you’ll see what I mean – interesting stuff! The book that makes this list is This Will Make You Smarter edited by John Brockman. The question Brockman poses for this book is “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” with contributions from Daniel Kahneman, Jonah Lehrer, Richard Dawkins, Aubrey De Grey, Steven Pinker, Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, and Brian Eno to name but a few. (GoodReads)
The last addition to my TBR this month is The Element by Ken Robinson. An oldie (originally published in 2000) but apparently a goodie for those looking to read into creativity and self-fulfillment. This book is about finding the point where your natural talent and personal passion intersects – finding your element. (GoodReads)
What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear about it – you might save me some time.
The Photosmudger did a great post on the books photographers should read to get insight into the critical theory side of the art. I want to share with you the top three books on his list that he’s convinced me to read. To see the rest of the reading list and to be convinced, as I was, why you should delve into critical theory head over to the photosmudger post.
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
This, according to the photosmudger, is “the grand-daddy of them all” and required reading.
The GoodReads blurb: John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.” By now he has.
On Photography by Susan Sontag
This one comes highly recommended by many so it’s worth taking a look at.
“First published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being “In Plato’s Cave”, make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.” (GoodReads)
Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
That epic line about looking on eyes that looked upon Napoleon is from this book. Need I say more?
“This personal, wide-ranging, and contemplative volume–and the last book Barthes published–finds the author applying his influential perceptiveness and associative insight to the subject of photography. To this end, several black-and-white photos (by the likes of Avedon, Clifford, Hine, Mapplethorpe, Nadar, Van Der Zee, and so forth) are reprinted throughout the text.” (GoodReads)
Have you read any of these? Share your thoughts with us. Do you have any more suggestions for photographers?
This month I have some books that are a little different from what I would normally select. This is in part due to my recent refocus in my working world. I’ve decided to take on new challenges professionally and so the first new addition to my TBR is Tom Ang’s beautiful book The Complete Photographer. This book is not your average photography book and covers 10 different photography genres accompanied by tutorials and lots of other information. It also has very cool interviews with acclaimed professional photographers which is a nice addition I think. I can’t wait to get stuck in! (GoodReads)
The second new book on my TBR is a book I happened upon in the ‘on sale’ section of the bookshop. I hadn’t heard of it before but as soon as I saw it I knew it would be interesting. It is Captured in Time: Five Centuries of South African Writing by John Clare. This is a book about South African history but not from the perspective of historians. Instead we glimpse the past through the words of those that not only lived in those times but wrote about them as well.
“Here, then, are the words not so much of historians, biographers and journalists but of settlers, explorers, hunters, travellers, missionaries, soldiers and politicians as well as of novelists, playwrights and poets.”
I expect this to be a very insightful read. (GoodReads)
Next is a book that has been on my mind for a while. I kept hearing about it and it has received good reviews so I hoping to get to it soon. Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor is set in Kenya and tells the story not only of a family in the wake of the murder of their son and brother but also of the dark past that looms still. (GoodReads)
The final addition to my TBR is a book that caught my eye because it appeals greatly to my OCD nature. It is a book of the photography of Ursus Wehrli entitled The Art of Cleanup: Life Made Neat and Tidy and features photographs in sets of two. The first shot is of a normal ‘messy’ scene like a bowl of cereal for example and the second shot is of the same bowl of cereal except the elements have been separated and organised so we get to see all the parts that made up the bowl of cereal in an organised and ‘clean’ way. It is magnificent! I’m sure I have not done the book justice in my description so please go over and have a look at the wonderful images. (GoodReads)