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Book Review: Black and White Artistry, by Chuck Kimmerle

Black and white photography is a passion for me which I actively pursue. I’ve just read a good book on the subject by Chuck Kimmerle called, Black and White Artistry, The Creative Photographer’s Guide to Interpreting Places and Spaces.

Kimmerle’s made a living in pictures first as a photojournalist at several papers and then as a staff photographer at a college and always as an artist. This book emphasizes that art and creativity are subjective. He doesn’t try to teach elementary principles like form and pattern and texture by describing them in chapters. Rather, he outlines some ideas for finding creativity and subject matter and gives many instances and anecdotes from his own work. Each spread of two pages is a single story or idea with a few photographs to illustrate. The prose is easy and intimate and absolutely unassuming and honest. From his writing, this is a guy I’d like to go shoot with because I think he’d be genuine and not selfish.

His anecdotes and examples demonstrate the principles of form and negative space and contrast and juxtaposition and all the rest of the classic ideas, but they do so gently. As I read, I was interested in his very engaging photography and the stories behind it. I picked up terrific ideas for training my eye to see a photograph in all kinds of situations and learned many good techniques for finishing pictures.

My only criticism of this book is that it is too small. Slightly smaller than an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper, it’s a comfortable size for reading, and it’s a perfect length (125 pages) so it’s not overwhelming, but the photos are so engaging that I’d like to see them much larger so I can engage with them better. The compositions and subjects appeal to me, and studying the finish of the images has helped me see how I can improve my digital darkroom techniques.

Chuck Kimmerle is a very good photographer, and I suspect he’s a good teacher, as well. His website, chuckkimmerle.com has information about workshops and you’ll also find galleries full of his work. You’ll also find a link to buy his book, published by Amherst Media, for just $25, or $9.99 as an ebook.

Highly recommended.

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