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It's the Oblique Strategies of Taking Pictures
on 3 January 2015
This is a really useful book in thinking about photography and practicing it reflectively and 'reflexively'. But if all you ever want to do is take a decent picture and learn about cameras, f-stops and digital ISOs - this is not for you. Those leaving negative reviews for this 'playbook' on the basis there as little about technique should probably focus on more instructional manuals which don't require as much thinking - or simply learn from the aesthetic emphasis of sites like 500px.com where it's about technical brilliance. There's nothing wrong with wanting that, photography is for everyone. However, by the same token I feel it is not a snobbish or intellectual-only position for someone to state that's only a *slither* of what photography is about, and it seems a bit mean to attack the amount of work that went into collating this quality diverse compendium. If you know multimedia artist Brian Eno (or his Roxy Music and ambient music) you might be aware that in the 1970s he published a deck of cards to get the practitioner out of creative blocks and thinking beyond prettiness - he named them "Oblique Strategies" - this book is the photography version of that in some ways - and follows that rolling-the-creative-dice tradition. Some other excellent publications along this line are film director and writer Miranda July's "Learning to Love You More" and the more accessible Keri Smith's "How to be an Explorer of The World" which involve more than photographs. But I think it's fairly clear this book isn't for everyone, sad, because all it requires is curiosity - my four year old can do some of these exercises. Reflective photographers, or those pursuing philosophical or academic, or immersive 'process' orientated work will also love this book, from, as I say, kids, all the way up to PhD level. I practice photography for process as much as product and even though I am a professional, I practice photography for the taking of photographs and the effect it has on my blood pressure, mental health and conceptual take on the world.