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The Minimalist Photographer
 
 

The Minimalist Photographer [Kindle Edition]

Steve Johnson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

"Who is this book for? This is yet another excellent read for aspiring photographers. Breaking down the many overwhelming aspects and complications of photography, this book manages to focus on what is most relevant in true photographic creation. The Minimalist Photographer touches on all of the key components of authentic photography in an easy to digest and extremely helpful manner." -- Photo.net

Product Description

This book covers photography from a minimalist perspective, proving that it is possible to take very good photographs with relatively cheap equipment. The minimalist process emphasizes the importance of first knowing what you want to achieve as a photographer and then choosing the most effective equipment, subject matter, and general approach to meet your goals. The minimalist photographer works with the idea that the brain and the eye are far more important than the camera.

Author Steve Johnson begins by asking you, the reader, to look inward and make the connections between your nature and your photography. Why do you want to take photographs and what subject matter are you attracted to? What type of photographer are you now and what type of photographer would you like to become? These are important questions to consider when deciding what approach works best for you.

In subsequent chapters, you'll learn about the equipment and workflow of a minimalist photographer as Johnson discusses the strengths and weaknesses of various types of cameras and explains why the biggest or most expensive piece of equipment is not always the best. He also addresses the importance of lighting and teaches you how to achieve effective lighting without spending a lot of money.

Also included are discussions about aesthetics and composition, as well as a brief history of photography and the future of the art form.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5202 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Rocky Nook; 1 edition (1 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C319PNW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #450,562 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 5 May 2013
Format:Paperback
I am relatively new to photography and after wasting lots of money on magazines, that cost a small fortune and are no more than glorified adverts for various photography equipment, I decided to focus on books to help me learn and improve my photography

The Minimalist Photographer covers Photography from the minimalist perspective, proving that it is possible to take excellent photographs with relatively cheap equipment. The book emphasizes the importance of knowing what you want to achieve as a photographer and emphasizes the importance of goals. The book is a far more of a holistic approach to photography than the other books I have read. The emphasize is on 'The Self ' as much as the equipment.

I found the book inspiring, so much so I went out with my camera and started to work on many of the techniques written about within this book and although I say so myself , I was extremely pleased with the results. The book is written in a conversational style. I found the book very easy to read and the author seems to have the ability to impart technical detail in an extremely concise way. With plenty of great tips, information and photographs.

I would definitely recommend The Minimalist Photographer and am looking forward to more photography books from this author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photography not technology... 22 May 2013
Format:Paperback
I have to admit I made a couple of mistakes when I got my copy of The Minimalist Photographer. Firstly, I wasn't really aware of minimalist images and have to admit that they aren't really my cup of tea; but that turned out to be a very happy mistake. Photography has always been a slightly nerdy pursuit and it's all too easy to get wrapped up in the technology and lose sight of the actual picture making. This seems to have become even more the case with the advent of digital photography where a workflow might be take as many shots as possible, discard 99.9% of them then Photoshop the remaining 0.1% to within an inch of their pixels; more an application of technology than aesthetics. This is not the approach advocated by The Minimalist Photographer. While the focus is very much on the minimal image the approach could easily be described as minimal in all aspects, from the hardware you use all the way to the post processing you engage in.

The book itself is very person centred rather than technology or technique centred and starts with the question of why do you want to take photos and what sort of photographer do you want to be. While this may seem trite it should actually be the basis for all your decisions as a photographer - your approach is going to be radically different if you are interested in say taking snaps for a blog rather than portrait photography. From there you're led into a discussion of the workflow which is requirements rather than technology based; use the workflow that works for you not that advocated by anyone else. I think this is the only photography book I've seen so far that doesn't fall into line with the "thou must use Photoshop" edict and instead recommends the rather lighter weight and simpler (but perfectly adequate for most purposes) Lightroom.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it! 18 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very informative read that opens up a completely new way of seeing images. Page for page, worth every Penny/Euro.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly helpful guide to developing your own aesthetic-- and why you should 24 April 2013
By Nicholas Maxwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The title of the book is The Minimalist Photographer, and it's all about what you bring to your photography, and why. Good photographs might happen as a result of just knowing how to use a camera, but consistently great images of any kind result from merging that technical know-how with some idea of what you want to convey about what you see.

Johnson clearly sets the premise for this book in the Introduction, beginning with the all-too-familiar crisis that a lot of us face after the excitement of a new camera wears off and we ask ourselves, "What now?" He came to realize that without bringing some kind of aesthetic philosophy to his photography, it would remain little more than an exercise in technical competence. He chose a minimalist, reductionist philosophical approach, and found that it works on all levels, whether as a style of art or as a conscious choice in equipment. Once that approach, that philosophy, was in place, the possibilities opened up, and interesting images could be made from nearly anything.

Developing an aesthetic philosophy begins with self-exploration, and the first chapter is appropriately titled "You." It starts with an explanation of why it is easier now to develop your own approach to photography than it was in the past, thanks to digital cameras and being able to share photos on the Internet, without worrying about meeting a pre-ordained standard set by publishers and gallery owners.

The chapter really kicks in for me, though, when Johnson poses the question, "Why do you want to take photographs?" It is a harder question to answer than it might first appear, but it is the first step toward developing your own philosophy, and you need to be honest. From there he asks, "What type of photographer are you now?" and gives examples of how certain kinds of labels, such as "landscape photographer," can be self-limiting, while others, such as as "minimalist photographer," can expand possibilities no matter what is being photographed.
The chapter concludes with, "What type of photographer will you become?" He explains that this is where having a workable philosophy can keep photography interesting and limitless: "Photography writing tends to treat the art as a top-down process. The assumption is that there is this finite amount of technical and artistic knowledge required, and when you have this knowledge, you are a master.... This approach is fundamentally wrong. Photography is a bottom-up process; it is about learning from the past, experimenting, making mistakes, and heading toward an unmapped future. This approach produces great photographers." From there he addresses temperament, our inner natures: "Possibly the hardest work that you will have to do as a photographer is to mesh your art with your own nature." Johnson stands out from the crowd on this one, warning against specializing too soon, and confusing specialization and style.

From here the book is structured from the approach to one's photography, to the basics like shutter speed and light metering, to camera types, and light sources. All of these are considered with a minimalist approach to equipment and time, of cutting to the chase. Particularly eye-opening is the section in Chapter 4 about the photography equipment industry and taking camera reviews with a grain of salt. Then comes a chapter on composition and aesthetics, with some useful ways of thinking outside of the rules.

The last three chapters give several different ways of learning from other photographers, both past and present, whether you agree with their approach or not--"to read with a critical mind." For instance, Johnson doesn't care for HDR, and he explains how he arrived at this as an example of self-analysis. Then he shows how the analysis not only works inward, but outward, as he looks at the place of HDR in the larger world of photography, the dynamics it creates in the community. Reading about others' approach to photography is crucial to developing your own; the key here is not just absorbing those approaches like a sponge, but in assessing what you read.

He goes on to show how a minimalist approach to photography evolved in the history of the camera, from its earliest days to the present ubiquitous camera phone, and through the art styles that photography influenced, such as Pictorialism and Modernism. This "selective history" (his words) shows how aesthetics in photography has further evolved from a rigid hierarchy established by the few who could afford it to today's near-anarchy, thanks to the computer and sites like Flickr. Johnson's hope that the increasing accessibility of photography, as a result of technological advances and prices coming down, will lead to a true meritocracy. It's an uplifting message for anyone who takes the art of photography seriously. As he says, "there has never been a better time to be a photographer."

This is a book I wish I'd had back when I first picked up a camera, especially a digital one. It is quite possible to use this book as a primer for the basics of photography, yet there's enough in it to get you going on a more advanced level, especially when it comes to developing your own style and aesthetics. There's tons of food for thought, all written in a casual, conversational style, and loads of great photographs which demonstrate the value of bringing a philosophy to one's art.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photography not technology... 22 May 2013
By renaissance geek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have to admit I made a couple of mistakes when I got my copy of The Minimalist Photographer. Firstly, I wasn't really aware of minimalist images and have to admit that they aren't really my cup of tea; but that turned out to be a very happy mistake. Photography has always been a slightly nerdy pursuit and it's all too easy to get wrapped up in the technology and lose sight of the actual picture making. This seems to have become even more the case with the advent of digital photography where a workflow might be take as many shots as possible, discard 99.9% of them then Photoshop the remaining 0.1% to within an inch of their pixels; more an application of technology than aesthetics. This is not the approach advocated by The Minimalist Photographer. While the focus is very much on the minimal image the approach could easily be described as minimal in all aspects, from the hardware you use all the way to the post processing you engage in.

The book itself is very person centered rather than technology or technique centered and starts with the question of why do you want to take photos and what sort of photographer do you want to be. While this may seem trite it should actually be the basis for all your decisions as a photographer - your approach is going to be radically different if you are interested in say taking snaps for a blog rather than portrait photography. From there you're led into a discussion of the workflow which is requirements rather than technology based; use the workflow that works for you not that advocated by anyone else. I think this is the only photography book I've seen so far that doesn't fall into line with the "thou must use Photoshop" edict and instead recommends the rather lighter weight and simpler (but perfectly adequate for most purposes) Lightroom. Next up is a chapter on the basics of photography such as exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and metering; while these may be a bit too basic for some they are a nice summary and bit of revision. Of course technology does play a part in photography and the next chapter gives an introduction to the types of cameras available and how to choose a camera that is suitable for your needs including a section on how to critically evaluate a review. For me the next two chapters are the real heart of the book and worth the price of entry alone; light and composition. If you want to take attractive images then these are the two elements that you really need to have at your fingertips. A minimalist image is really an exercise in light and composition so the images included clearly illustrate the text and provide a coherent and well constructed whole. While, as I mentioned earlier, minimalism isn't really my thing I'm certainly going to break out my camera and give it a try simply for the exercise in light and composition. The final section of the book, which is a history and philosophy of photography, isn't exactly filler but will appeal to you more or less depending on your outlook. If you are interesting in making images I doubt it will excite you much however if you are interested in photography as an art form then it gives some very nice background material.

My second mistake was getting the book in electronic format. While that is certainly the way that publishing is going I wouldn't recommend it for art or photography books. The images are too integral to the whole and, for me at least, lose some of their impact when they are on a screen so I would suggest buying the old fashioned paper format.
32 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Form without Content 17 April 2013
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I saw the title "The Minimalist Photographer" I didn't know whether the author referred to some form of minimalism in the images captured or minimalism in the amount of equipment used to capture images. After completing the book I still don't know.

The author begins the book by asking the reader to explore himself or herself, and then proceeds to a discussion of the basics, like exposure and metering. Next there is a chapter discussing cameras and then a chapter on light. There is a mention of composition and aesthetics and a few pages about photography philosophy, followed by a brief history of photography and the author's outlook for the future of photography. Intrspersed throughout are many of the author's images.

I found these images thought provoking, if not interesting. One approach to understanding art is through the concepts of form and content. One historical approach has been to suggest that the form, say, lines, masses, color, and composition, must help to understand the content. Another school of art suggested that the form itself might be the content of a work. In painting, the abstract expressionists were determined to deal with concepts like mass, color and so forth without figurative reference. Johnson's photographs also seem to deal with form, by emphasizing lighting, line, and mass, but without caring what the content is. For example, a dramatically lit image of a screw showed the lighting, but told nothing about the screw. Based on the author's photographs I would have expected some explanation of a genre of photography which is concerned about form alone, but there was absolutely nothing significant explaining this approach.

In fact there was little of substance that would help a photographer to develop his skills anywhere in the book. For example, the chapter on exposure offered a few facts about the reciprocal relationship of aperture and shutter speed, but did little to explain how to use that, either for content-less photography or any other purpose. If you are a beginner, you will learn little about the skills necessary to become a photographer from this book.

Perhaps it because Johnson prides himself on being an iconoclast, even if he offers little in the way of something to replace what he attacks. Typical was his discussion of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, which he seems to reject as a technical trick with no benefit. From his approach, I wondered if he really understood what HDR was about. Certainly, as one concerned with the form of light, I would have thought that literally bringing a little light into the shadows would have appealed to him.

Besides the general lack of information as to technique or explanation of his approach to imaging, the chapters on the history and future direction of photography added nothing to the idea of being a minimalist photographer, however that is defined.

I also found Johnson's writing style curious. It had a conversational tone, as if he had just recorded random thoughts, without ever editing them to make them more effective. Writing differs from conversation and capitalizing on the difference makes writing more effective.

Unless one is interested in photography that emphasizes form at the cost of content, and wants to see what one photographer is doing, this book can be ignored.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful Book on Photography 21 May 2013
By W J Spicer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a photographer do you sometimes feel that you are stuck in a groove that you'd like to leave? If so, this is a book you should pick up. I have been taking photos for 47 years, and I have certainly gone through these periods and wish that I had seen this book before now. Nevertheless, even now I have found this commentary on photography of significant value.
Steve takes a long view of the art of photography. He adequately reviews the history of where photography has been, where it is now, and peers into the future.
If you have felt overwhelmed by the flood of technology on the market, you will find relief here, as Steve points out the pitfalls of the photographic publications' bias towards the market's "latest and greatest." He supports your suspicion that you don't have to invest excessively while pointing you in the right direction regarding your interests and what the market offers.
Steve's interest is in promoting you as a reflective and thoughtful student of the photographic arts. We are all students here and in the introduction to his chapter on Composition and Aesthetics he says, "I believe we learn more from teachers who are not afraid to inject their own thoughts and passions regarding a subject than those who do their best to imitate a textbook on legs." Steve is passionate about this art form and to illustrate his book each chapter includes a gallery of his photos that not only illustrate the points of the chapter but his point of view captured in the title, The Minimalist Photographer.
This book challenges the reader to think about the question of why and to engage with others regarding the art of photography. It is written for a broad spectrum: from beginner to seasoned veteran and offers thoughtful commentary to all. I strongly recommend it to anyone who uses a camera either casually or consciously striving to grow their eye.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good addition to photo book library 10 May 2013
By Elise DeFosse Iglio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There were some good ideas and philosophies in this book. It gave me some things to think about working on. Will it make me a better photographer? Maybe. Unfortunately, with a limited income from my photography business, the cost of the book makes me feel, after reading it, that I probably shouldn't have spent the money.
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