A book by Robert Adams

Mini Book Review:

Upon finishing this collection of essays by Robert Adams, no relation by the way to the late great Ansel, I was left with a sense that photography is regarded more respectfully as art than I had previously thought. I was under the impression that photography was the PBA of the art world. Not that bowlers aren’t respectable athletes, mind you. On the contrary, photography is a visual art like any other and is treated as such by those in the art community. My assumptions came, most likely, from the wrong impression that the ultimate goal of art is to reproduce reality as it is. In this way, photography would certainly be considered cheating and, therefore, not art. I’m realizing that photographs can represent not only what the photographer is seeing, but also the way the scene or subject makes them feel.

Despite its title, the book is not about photography. One won’t find any low-light shooting techniques or neutral density filter recommendations. What he makes clear is that those things are really only the necessities of photography. Adams also describes ways in which we can better interpret the work of others.

A word of warning: The last few chapters are more about conservation and the too rapid advancement of human progress than anything art related. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding not just why people photograph, but, more broadly, why an artist is compelled to create.

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October 2007
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