The book is a collection of short essays - by a wide range of photographers - about moments in space and time that never became photographs! Oh, how well I (as all photographers can, at one time or another) resonate with those moments. Maybe we've forgotten our camera, or our tripod, or filter; maybe our camera froze at an inopportune moment; maybe the subject of our gaze shifted its position, or flew away, as we were preparing to take the picture; maybe a gust of wind blew that perfectly composed image into the mists of time, or that sudden burst of sun from behind a cloud ruined the perfect exposure.
As a photographer myself, the book made me think of many of my own "Photographs Not Taken" moments; when, even though I was in the right state of mind and soul, and had perfectly well functioning camera and gear by my side, the photograph I wanted to take - the photograph I needed to take - I did not take, and is now gone forever. I vividly recall one particular series of photographs I could easily have taken and never did. It happened between 25 and 30 years ago, when my dad (an art restorer / artist) was still in his prime and worked at home in his upstairs studio. Except for one precious photograph, captured more by accident than design, I do not have any other visual record of my dad working as an art restorer in his studio! This represents the single greatest regret in my life as a photographer (thus far); namely, that I had never trained my eye and camera on my dad while he was still alive and worked in his studio.
Photographs Not Taken contains many stories similar to mine, that range from whimsical, to personal, to tragic. Of course, the book contains no photographs (at least of the conventional variety ;-) and even the typesetting is kept to a bare minimum, the focus being squarely on the stories themselves. But collectively, these wonderful stories teach us what we must do to become better photographers. They remind us that we are - in each and every moment of our lives - immersed in an infinite field of ever-changing extraordinary and timeless images; and the fact that we have or have not a camera, or want or do not want or cannot use it, hardly even matters. Just look, revel in what you feel, and remember.