I’m not really into reading “how-to” books. Partly because I’m one of the curious kind who enjoys learning and exploring and figuring things out on my own. Also partly because I’m flat out stubborn as a petulant (but very cute) little mule. Need I even mention the sweet, immaculate gifts from God: Google and Youtube. Not to mention the other endless internet sources and apps created for our convenience, to teach us anything or serve as a quick fix for any problem under the sun that we might have? Who the hell needs an instruction manual long enough and with the nerve to actually call itself a book?
And then one day, browsing all the books that I really don’t need to be buying right now on Amazon, something caught my eye. “READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO TAKE GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS” flashed across my screen, and my interest immediately piqued.
I was intrigued by the simplicity of this book. Stamped bold and bright on a black canvas, the title says it all. Read this book and you will certainly take, if not great photographs, better photographs than you are currently taking.
And this doesn’t just apply to a photography novice or amateur. I think that even seasoned photographers could benefit from Henry Carroll’s nifty little book. It’s a nice pocket reminder, filled with easy-to-read charts and useful info that is both precise and informative, yet gets straight to the point.
As Carroll says himself, “If you want to know more about this, I would go online, but prepare yourself for a lot of technical talk.”
What makes the book exceptionally lovely, not just informative, is that Henry Carroll makes a bold point not to focus on the technicalities of photography. Anyone can learn to press buttons and switch gears on a battery-operated device. That’s the boring stuff, the intro class material, which is hardly even relevant to most individuals nowadays who just opt to use photography apps on their smartphones that do all the nitty gritty work for them anyway.
The truly useful part of this book can be found in the last 24 pages, the chapter titled “Seeing.” These concluding pages transition from the rest of the book’s technical instruction, to an aesthetic philosophy on photography. Carroll’s words are beautiful, inspiring and much-needed for the many Instagramers out in the digital world whose portfolios consist of Sephora hauls, Starbucks iced coffees, and pictures of their feet.
You should read this book. Not just if you like photography. If you are anyone who delights in beautiful things (and hopefully if you are on my blog, you are), read this. At least the last chapter. I mean, who doesn’t like some wise words to brighten your eyes with energy and make you think differently for a little while?