Author: Harold Davis

Publisher: Wiley

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Instructing photographers about creativity is hard. It’s not like technique where there are rules, like use a large f-stop if you want to limit depth of field, or use a shutter speed equal to one over the focal length for a hand-held shot. It’s not even like discussing composition where you can say, all things considered, it’s better to apply the rule of thirds. Instead an author has to tell a person how to see.

It’s hard to review a book on creativity, since each reader seems to respond differently to styles of particular authors. Thus even though I didn’t find this book helpful, others might.

The author is certainly an excellent and creative photographer as the examples in the book reveal. He appears to be of two different minds. Some pictures, like those of his children, favor content over form, while others seem to favor form, almost to the exclusion of content, like many images that border on abstraction. (My own style lies somewhere between these, reflecting my preference for more realistic images where the form explicates the content.) For the images shown in this book, Davis seems to prefer either macro-photography, especially of flowers, or mysterious landscapes.

Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques opens with a section on equipment and technique. I was perplexed by the need to include this section since it seems to me that people who have reached the stage of interest in creative composition would already have known this information. The second section is called “unleash your imagination” and it is here that the author talks about the use of visual ambiguity, photography as magic and as poetry, and abstraction. These were interesting concepts, and I frequently wished that he had discussed them in more depth. For example Davis urges seeing what is in front of you, but this raised a number of questions in my mind. Since most people believe they are seeing what’s in front of them, how can one tell if he or she is missing something? If you are missing something, how do you refine your senses for better seeing?

The third section discusses photography and paradox. Unfortunately, I found most of the section dealt with heavily manipulated images, even though there are many opportunities for paradox in the unmanipulated world. The final chapter was called “photography is design” and it was here that the author dealt with most of the standard composition rules, like the rule of thirds, and frames within frames.

As I said above, there are many approaches to creativity, and a person striving to improve creativity should search all the avenues until he finds one or more that are helpful. Perhaps this book may be such an avenue for you.
This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store