On Being a Photographer by David Hurn & Bill Jay

I have very recently read a very good book titled On Being a Photographer – A Practical Guide. Published by LensWork Publishing.

The book is mainly a conversation between David Hurn and Bill Jay. Bill Jay sets out the argument as to what are the qualities and characteristics for a professional photographer and producing quality work.

David Hurn is a world class professional photographer who was a member of the elite photographers cooperative, Magnum Photos Inc. and has also lectured at Gwent College amongst his many achievements. Bill Jay a good friend and colleague is an author and editor.

This book is not a technical book on how to compose, expose, light or frame but covers basic fundamental principles of how to get started on deciding what you want to photograph and why. An explanation of what a reportage photographer is and has good tips on selecting subject to photograph and creating photo essays.

This book has helped me to rethink my approach to creating photographs and has helped me with ideas of how to formulate ideas which up to now has been my biggest stumbling block.

The book was first published in 1997 and digital cameras were still very new and photo editing software still in it’s infancy; so much is discussed refereeing to film cameras and there is a section on contact printing which is pretty much no longer relevant. However, Adobe Lightroom uses a type on contact print display when you now down load your photos which offers a similar opportunity to review your photos and select those wanted for further processing and also offers an easier method of filing. with similar ideas of marking pictures as David Hurn uses.

David Hurn’s negative comments regarding the internet potentially offering new photographers opportunities to get noticed was very true, although he could not have foreseen the social-networks and sites like Flickr, etc. He could clearly see that already by 1997 there were so many websites and many thousands more joining all the time that any photographer simply believing that creating a website and adding photos to it would make them famous was at best naïve.

A good read not too intellectual and I would recommend this book to both students and hobbyist alike.

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