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Customer Review

on June 15, 2007
This is the best single volume on visual design and composition in years. Painters need a book this good. Freeman's earlier book from the 1980s, "Image," had long held the status, IMHO, of being the best single volume. His new book surpasses the older one by a significant margin.

Freeman is one of very few photographers, or artists of any ilk, who can articulate their art-related thoughts in concrete, accurate, analytical ways, and not in the jargon of so much of what is written about art that lacks any actual content. Not only is he an outstandingly gifted photographer, with dozens of books to his credit, but one who has mastered the grammar of images and is one of the few who can describe how and why visual phenomena work.

This is the most complete volume on this subject out there in terms of numbers of topics introduced and discussed at a reasonable length. It is also the most effective melding of the insights of current Gestalt perception theory with traditional design elements/principles in print. The first 60% of the book deals with the more concrete aspects of designing an image.

The last two chapters marry the other part of composing that is harder to articulate well: the message in a image, or the photographer's intent. Only in this book has an author attempted to define major categories of intent in making an image. And then categorizes the physical and mental aspects of how a photographer goes after, constructs, or recognizes an image - the process.

Throughout the discussions he introduces those aspects of digital imaging that a photographer can use to influence a picture's design. Perhaps the most powerful development is that digital in-camera and post processing technologies allow the photographer to apply to color images all those image control aspects formerly available only in the wet chemistry darkroom to monochrome images, as well as many more.

Make no mistake.... This is a book for readers. One cannot get all of this book's benefit from the illustrations alone, in the manner of so many "how-to" art and photography books these days that have pictures, but little text. But this is the book to which thoughtful photographers will return over and over for many years.

The only way it can be significantly better would be to have twice as many pages. It would make a wonderful textbook for any studio art, photography, art history, or art appreciation course in high school or college/university.
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4.3 out of 5 stars