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Recommended Reading for the Visual Arts: Photography - Painting - Sculpture

Hello, everyone. Here is six of many books I have enjoyed that help me heighten my awareness of the space that surrounds me, in continuing the development of visualization skills, a key component in creating exciting and dynamic compositions whether through Photography, Painting or Sculpture. As i come across other strong books I feel add to this and other aspects of Art, I will share them here. As always, feel free to PM me on Facebook or Contact page with questions. Happy Reading!

1. Tao of Photography: seeing beyond seeing -  by Philippe L. Gross

Not an easy read some say, and I agree, but worth your time to sit quietly with a drink and ponder the wisdom these pages offer. The words, ideas and concepts, will help you develop awareness for the world around you, which goes a long way in helping you develop your visualization skills - a key component to creating dynamic photographs.  

2. Looking at Photographs - by John Szarkowski

This is 100 photographs from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art.  ‘John Szarkowski has been credited with changing the face of photography in the eyes of the American public. He was one of the first to prove that photography was as much of an art form as painting and sculpture and deserved the same recognition’. [1]  A must read for both the casual and serious student of photography.

3. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men - James Agee & Walker Evans

This is a long read but take your time and get involved with each paragraph: It is a deep and sometimes intricate landscape both Agee reveals in his writing and Evans documents with his lenses - as they portray an intimate landscape inside and out of the wooden shacks the migrant workers lived in as they suffered during the infamous dust Bowls of the 1930’s United States southeast.

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4. Believing is Seeing: observations on the mysteries of photography - by Errol Morris

This book was an eye opener - as it was the first of this type of book I enjoyed exploring fake news created by image manipulation: focusing on both changing a scene in front of the lens before triggering the shutter and manipulating already developed pictures in an attempt to skew to either the left or right of the truth.  Very interesting and enjoyable explanations and insight by Morris.

5. In Praise of Shadows - by Junichiro Tanizaki

This is an easy read and first published in Japanese 1933. Tanizakis Japanese essay explores shadows and the patina of age, anything understated and natural: listening to the crisp sound of fallen and dried forest leaves under your step, the moss that spreads a variety of color and shape along fallen trees and covering rocks beside running creeks - and perhaps the delicate sound of rain water flowing down and across a window. The book is a wonderful introduction on how to think and perceive the world around us - a first step in learning visualization. A must read for the serious photographer and traditional fine art painters.

6. Faking It: Manipulating Photography before Photoshop - by Mia Fineman

This is a fun read, and extremely informative. Fineman provides the full scope in the history of image manipulations, from the mid 19th Century to the present. A great read especially for those well acquainted with Photoshop and its seemingly endless power as a post-production tool in both adjusting traditional fine art photography and creating digital fine art photography. Enjoy.


[1] From A Short Bio of John Szarkowski by Judith Habert 2018