On Wikipedia, a hobby is described as “a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time”. I find this definition pretty paradoxical: whilst the ‘regular’ part implies a certain degree of systematic frequency, the ‘leisure time’ reveals the reality, probably common to most of us, that free time is hard to come by! Within this context, I have to apologise for the lack of regularity from my part in keeping this blog up to date! Unfortunately, the “leisure time” luxury is increasingly harder to come by these days!

Now – enough about the hobby part… Today’s post is a review of the short book “Read this if you want to take great photographs“, by Henry Carroll. I picked this book up some weeks ago whilst on work duties in London, from the Natural History Museum. I managed to read through the book in my off-duty hours, which were, admittedly, more readily available without family and home-related activity that occupy most of my non-work time in Malta!

Regardless of your situation, this book is not demanding in terms of time – it is a fairly quick read even for the busiest amongst us. Whilst the page count goes up to 128, in truth it only consists of 60 text pages, as half of the book is images that demonstrate what is being explained in the text.

I found this style highly effective: as they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, yet it only takes one page! Moreover, photos are, (obviously), at the heart of photography, so it is unsurprising that a photography-related book would be loaded with photos. I always find myself learning the most when I’m exposed to well-thought out photography critique, and this book doesn’t come short in this regard.

In terms of target audience, this book is perfect for those who wish to learn about photography but do not have the luxury of time, (here we go again), to enroll in educational courses or watch lengthy tutorial videos. If you’re a beginner, you can expect to quickly get up to speed with the basics of both the art and the science of photography.

There are five chapters in the book, each dealing with specific aspects in the world of photography, namely: composition; exposure; light; lenses and seeing. Each chapter deals with a number of related topics, with each topic occupying just one page accompanied by a photo demonstrating the topic in question. I found that the photos were, in most occasions, a good choice by the author. There were a couple of images, however, where I felt the image chosen would probably be better appreciated by a more mature photographer, as opposed to the beginner audience seemingly being targeted.

In my view, you should thus get this book if you are just starting out in photography and don’t have the time or inclination for something more time consuming. The book can also be useful for those seeking improvements in technique or composition. The ‘layman terms’ approach adopted by the author makes this an accessible book, well deserving of its title.

The book can indeed help you take great photographs, particularly if you follow the author’s recurrent reminder to “go out and practise”.


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