Photographically Speaking by David duChemin

While travelling back to my hometown of Brandon, Manitoba, I was craving some reading material.  It was a long flight over to Canada with the batteries of my iPhone being killed on the first leg from Korea to China. At any rate, I was looking for something to keep me going on the return leg of my journey.

At any rate, I found myself at a bookstore looking at this beautifully made (and written) book by David duChemin. This book is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, unless you go to university and then it is pretty much standard. Coming in at $49.34 (CDN) this book is an investment and one that I gladly paid at the time.

Some may think that this is crazy but 1) I was on vacation and wanted to pick something up for myself that I couldn’t find in Korea 2) I know that I will benefit from reading this book and add it to my collection and finally 3) I know that David is doing some great work and would happily support him, though I am not sure how much of a cut he actually gets from books sales.

At any rate, the book is right up my ally in many ways. If you are looking for something that will tell you exactly how to process and capture amazing photos that will make you stupidly wealth and a world famous photographer…. this is not the book for you and that is a good thing. This book is a lot more cerebral and though-provoking. It takes you deep inside the “vision” of what you want to obtain. I feel that is more what a true photographer needs than someone trying to tell them how to exactly to copy the same shot of the Eiffel tower that everyone else has.

The great thing about this book is that David talks a lot about the “why” and that is important even before you press the shutter. I found myself last night on the roof of a 30 story building asking myself many of the questions covered in the first part of David’s book. “why am I taking this shot?” “what am I trying to express?” “Who is the intended audience of this photo?”  That alone helped give me more direction than my  usual “OK I have to get every available shot from here because either security is coming or the light is fading. Either way…. go go go!”

David also looks at many different techniques to give a breakdown on how they produce stunning images. Again, this is more designed to make you think about your own images and how you use the techniques to answer those above questions or communicate your intentions better. Finally David concludes with a selection of photos of his that he breaks down and shows the decisions that he made to create and edit them. Again, this is not a photoshop class but rather a look into how to express your intent more effectively with that photo.

What I loved about this book as well is that there are challenges placed at the end of certain sections that gives a break and forces you to pick up your camera. Too often when we read photobooks and self-help books, we never actually apply them in real life. Sometimes they fill our head with wonderful images and then we just shelf the book and go one with our daily lives. These little “creative exercises” as David calls them are perfect for getting you out and photographing.

At any rate, this book is pricy at almost $50 Canadian but I feel that if you are looking for a solid piece on the more thoughtful side of photography then it is a good purchase. I feel that the book is written for those who already have a great working knowledge of photography and compositional techniques but are further seeking knowledge on how to effectively use them to communicate your intent. The main thing that I hope to learn from this book is how to get from “meh just another Asian city…” to “wow everything is really cramped in there!” I feel that this is clearly explain and I appreciate David taking the time to help us.



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  2. Jun Kim Reply

    This is also one of my favorite photography books. Like you said, I found his approach to be philosophical yet very practical. It makes you think about the substance. He also had examples of how he analyzes or understands a photograph…This book should be translated to Korean. : )

    • Jason Teale Reply

      Jun, I would love to see this book translated into Korean. I think a lot of Korean photographers would like it a lot. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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