(EDITOR’S NOTE: Usually I rely solely on our tremendous in-house reviewer, Conrad Obregon for book reviews – which we publish every Sunday. Conrad is better at this than I am, but once in a while a book comes out that I feel the need to comment on. I assume Conrad will also review this title at a later date. Look for his reviews every weekend.)
I just had a pleasurable two hours glancing through Chase Jarvis’ brilliant little book The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You. It’s published by the New Riders Press and just came out this week.
I have to say that if you’re at all tempted to pass on this book because you heard it’s nothing but iPhone pictures, you’d be making a big mistake. There’s a great deal to learn from this book. In fact, there are so many lessons that this review couldn’t possibly do justice to them.
But in the short run, here are a few things to consider.
I often get asked how to become a better photographer. The simple answer is to look at lots of pictures. This little book is full of hundreds of photos. Plenty to look at and contemplate here. Chase has a great eye and you can learn from even his iPhone pictures. Moreover, you can learn to dump all those excuses you have for not getting out there and getting great photographs. Looking at this book will cause you to have to stop making up reasons to fail. So let’s get a checklist going.
1. I can’t shoot great photos because I don’t have a pro camera – check this one off. All these photos are made with an iPhone camera.
2. There’s nothing to shoot where I live – check this one off since Chase shows you that your everyday, mundane world is as interesting as you want to make it. With the right heart and the right eye you can make good photos anywhere with any camera.
3. I don’t have time or money to go to all the cool places that Chase goes. See number 2.
In short, this book should be important to every single serious photographer out there. It shows you how to see, what’s possible when you try to see, and what you can do with minimal equipment.
I am far from a Chase Jarvis fanboy. His style is a bit out there for an old war horse like me. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t a great photographer. He is indeed. I don’t buy or listen to rap music, but I can still recognize the gifts and talents of the rap artists. Likewise, while I am not a fan of every Chase Jarvis photo, I can and do recognize the gifts and talents he shows off in this little book and elsewhere. And even though I don’t like every photo in the book, I am pretty sure I learned something from every photo in the book and in the end, that’s what counts.
I’ve already heard a few comments about this book that might at first blush appear negative. Does this book (or one like it) get published if Chase Jarvis isn’t the author? No – not a chance – and that’s the only bad news. You have to be Chase or someone as famous as he is to get this opportunity. But it doesn’t matter. The rest of us can learn lots here. I plan to look at these photos again and again. Any time I doubt my surroundings or circumstances’ ability to provide me with a good photo opportunity, I’ll look at this book and recognize what a talented young guy did with nothing more than a cell phone camera and a good eye. Then I’ll stop dropping excuses, get off the couch and go get me some!
This is a very important little book and I am glad Chase took the time to share it with the rest of us.