When I set a goal this year to read a photography book every month, I thought I would alternate between a hard-core technique type of book and an inspirational one. This has proven to be both a good idea and one, in which, I will need to review in the future. The reason? I am finding the inspirational books require more time to absorb the ideas being presented. Such is the case with David duChemin’s Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision. You will find a short chapter on the photographic equipment David uses and why. Once that is done, get ready to enjoy how David sees the world and how you can see your own differently.
Within the Frame goes around the globe with David duChemin’s amazing photographs he uses to illustrate his points in the chapters on storytelling and photographing people, places and cultures. Yet, this is not a book on travel photography but about a photographer who travels. David reminds us throughout the narrative how the same principles, research and common sense he uses in India, Nepal, Africa, China and other far away locations can be done in our own neighborhoods. For it is the concept of vision he returns to over and over again that is the key. Vision knows no borders.
Practical advise is given on how to approach and photograph people. What to look for to create photographs of people which shows more than a pretty smile, to capture the emotion and character behind the smile. This is one aspect of my photography I need to work on. From reading this book, listening to Art Wolfe at creativeLive.com and my own experiences, Western countries are harder to photograph people but not impossible. Just takes a little more effort.
Over the last three weeks, the photos I have shared on the blog have been influenced by my reading of Within the Frame. Taking more time to see and think of what I wanted to convey in the frame of the photographs. Though it is a statue, the photos of Abraham Lincoln on the Syracuse University campus showed me I was on the right track. Someday I will take what I learned from the statue to photograph real people with the same kind of mindset of showing the emotion and character of a person, to tell his or her story. If I can do it with bronze, I should be able to do with a living person, right?
Photographing a place is not that much different than people. My evening in Liverpool was such a place. I found parts of Liverpool’s community in Heid’s restaurant , a flower store and pub which give Liverpool an identity. However, it was the weeping willows I found in a park which showed Liverpool as a tranquil place for people to relax and renew themselves. It might not be what David duChemin would have seen but it is what I saw and felt as I walked around the village. Though I did not get lost as David suggests doing when visiting a new location where every corner brings you new photographic adventures. Don’t worry, he does want you to carry your hotel’s business cards so you can get a cab to take you back.
Humans create culture. We do it in our countries, cities, towns, and villages. We now do it online on Facebook, Twitter and the millions of online forums. How to photograph culture? This is where research and observation come to play. There are some underlying axioms of culture. One is food, another is faith. Both say a lot about a culture. Art, music, language, festivals, history, heroes, sports and geography all combine to define a culture. Learn about and seek them out. You don’t have to be in Timbuktu to photograph culture. For example, Syracuse, New York has a diverse culture with many ethnic festivals, local foods (how many of you have heard of salt potatoes?), a symphony, art gallery and the people who brave long winters and lake effect snow storms many people around the world shake their heads at. I have been asked numerous times why anyone would live here? This blog is my answer and you’ll find much of the culture of Syracuse within.
There is so much more to Within the Frame. There are many tips on how to do things interwoven with the lessons on vision, respect of others and cultures to bring back photographic stories both humane and human. David duChemin knows and is always working on his vision. He understands it is a journey. Before this year, I did not understand that fully. Now, I know I do. A journey that is never ending yet very satisfying to my spirit.
To read more about David duChemin’s vision philosophy in photography, visit his Craft & Vision eBook store by click the banner ad below.