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12 March 2019

Our full book reviews gathered under this column's tag are reserved for titles we found particularly inspiring. But there are a number of releases that we read for review that are worthy of recognition if not a full review. Our short reviews of recent releases attempts to retrieve them from oblivion. Because, you know, we think you might enjoy them.

Make Better Pictures: Truth, Opinions, and Practical Advice
by Henry Horenstein

The memorable image is something of a crusade for every photographer. There is no Holy Grail, though. And it isn't always a fortuitous accident either. In this nicely-designed book, Henry Horenstein provides the next best thing to take along with you: 100 pieces of advice covering technical information, gear, shooting techniques, alternatives, light, seeing, subjects, you and sharing. Each section starts with an inspiring quote and each piece of advice takes no more than a page with a facing illustration to make the point memorable. There's no depth here, but plenty of inspiration.

Why You Like This Photo: The science of perception, and how we understand photographs
by Brian Dilg

Don't judge this book by its cover, which resembles one of those chew-proof children's books. It's a treatise on the science of seeing, the engineering behind the bridge between our eyeballs and our brains. And, believe it or not, it's entertaining. Dilg makes his point with a magazine-like layout on two tiny pages in chapters that explore How We See, How We Notice and How We Think. There are also interviews along the way in pieces titled The Experts Speak. All of which takes you beyond the technique to a grasp of how it works. Which, when you think of it, makes a very unusual approach to a well-worn subject.

Artists Write to Work: A Practical Guide to Writing about Your Art
by Kate Kramer

Here's another title wrapped in a silly cover but at least this one includes an orange ribbon bookmark. We don't know of any other title that treats this subject, one that isn't much talked about but that is certainly agonized over endlessly. Because sooner or later, you're going to have to put into words something about yourself and your work. For your resume or your Web site or your grant application. And Kramer will help you do it. The book is a bit pedantic but it's also full of good advice, examples and worksheets. You'll want to roll up your sleeves when you crack the cover because Kramer plans to put you to work. Like photography, the only way to improve your writing is to do it. Write, write, write, she advises.

Richard Kalvar
by Hervé Le Goff

Like the previously reviewed August Sander, this is a compact Photofile title providing 64 images from a four decade career shooting what Le Goff describes in his introduction as "shots from movies never made, revealing strange scenes and mysterious stories, as though the images harvested during his wanderings had ripened into fiction." The black-and-white images are gorgeous to behold and there is a wealth of reference material at the end to help you continue to explore the enigmatic work of this Magnum master.

Born to Dance: Celebrating the Wonder of Childhood
by Jordan Matter

Portrait and dance photographer Jordan Matter, famous for his 10 Minute Photo Challenge YouTube videos, caught his daughter dancing as she shoveled snow. "It was irresistibly cute, so I grabbed my camera," he writes. That's just the first of hundreds of images of children dancing. "The children in this book are, like all kids, exceptional," he explains. "Born to Dance celebrate the limitless possibilities of childhood, and the authenticity with which kids live every moment." The photos are, above all, fun. And more than a few are inspiring. Especially if the only way you know how to dance is with a camera.

NB: Titles are affiliate links which provide you with a discount and us with a small referral fee. None of the titles come from the affiliates, however, but are either proposed by publicists or sought out by staff for review.

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