7 Best Quotes From Book 'The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum'

the art of photography
The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression by Bruce Barnbaum

The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression by Bruce Barnbaum is a must read for every photographer who seeks to make a personal statement through the medium of photography. Below are 7 points from the book that changed my whole approach to photography and will potentially influence you too!

“Talent, hardwork and enthusiasm will produce success in any field. You can be successful with only two of these attributes as long as one of the two is enthusiasm.”

There are super talented and hardworking photographers who aren’t successful. Reason? Lack of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm dictates success. Talent without enthusiasm is a wasted talent. Hardwork without enthusiasm is what most employees of 9 to 5 typical office jobs do. Hardwork without enthusiasm will lead you to a point in life where you have had enough and consider drastic measures of escape. Enthusiasm is what will keep you going and growing; the most important thing to succeed in any field.

“A photographer’s way of seeing is a reflection of his entire life’s attitude, no matter what the subject matter may be.”

A finished photograph has visible bits of the photographer’s attitude towards the subject which dictates everything from composition to retouching. I have seen the work of photographers change with age. A lot depends on their lookout in life. Sometimes the mood of the artist at that particular moment influences his workflow and finally surfaces in the end photograph.

“With good composition the artist leads the viewer through the photograph in a controlled manner.”

I cannot stress enough how important composition is in photography. I mention it more than anything while guiding people new to photography. Camera models will come and go, your lighting equipment will change over time. What will remain unique to you is your composition skills. The freedom to decide what to include in a frame and what not to is the most beautiful thing about photography and what sets each individual apart.

“Composition must be controlled in a colour photograph. Painters have complete control over their colour palette. Photographers have to make the most from the given situation.”

Once you learn colour science, you will have another factor to care for while composing photographs. When shooting outdoors, more often than not, you are likely to face terrible colour combinations which will ruin your photograph even though supported by leading lines or rule of thirds or any other principle. An easy method to get around this is to simply convert your photograph into black and white. However, an even better way is to compose smartly and try and include elements which form good colour combinations and exclude the ones which don’t.

“The object you photograph has colours. The light under which you are shooting also has inherent colours.”

Photographers often pay so much attention to their subject that they end up ignoring other factors like the background or the light they are shooting in. It is not a very wise thing to do because the light we shoot in dictates the mood of the photograph. With every passing hour the light changes quite a lot and along with it your photograph too. Photograph of a subject on a gloomy day and a photograph of the same subject on a sunny day tells two different tales. It is essential to plan your shoot taking this factor into consideration.

“Technique should be invisible. This means that the viewer should be unaware of the techniques you employed because everything appears natural and correct.”

This is the best tip for the ones learning retouching. Retouching should be used to enhance photographs and not rescue them. If there are tell tell signs that you worked on an area in software, then you are not doing it right or over doing it. Additionally, there is no one correct way to retouch a photograph. You may achieve results spending an hour using multiple layers in a software, while your friend might achieve a similar result in few minutes using only a couple of layers in the same software. At the end of the day if the viewer can tell no difference between the two photographs then you are at a loss. The end result matters. Technique should be and is invisible.

“Photographers need to control their baser instincts instead of spiralling down to the greatest colour saturation in image after image.”

With saturation controlled by a mere slider in retouching softwares, it is very easy for anyone to get carried away with and oversaturate all photographs. It is essential to realise that not every photo benefits from a boost in saturation. You need to replicate what the scene looked like to you and remember to keep everything natural and correct as said in the above point. Loud colours surely grabs attention but you need to shift your focus to other important things like storytelling, composition, subject selection or time of day; which will truly help you become a better and successful photographer.

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