The Minimalist Photographer
The resident photographer for this site, as most of you know by now, is my husband, Steve Johnson. Earlier this year, his book, The Minimalist Photographer, was published by Rocky Nook, and has steadily acquired good reviews and press.
The most recent honor came from photo.net, which listed The Minimalist Photographer among it’s ten “Best Photography Books of 2013.” To quote from the article’s lead:
With such a long list of publications from 2013, we went with those we felt were the most: inspirational, informative, helpful, and/or unique.
I’m admittedly biased, as not only is this the hubbins’ book, but I played my own small part in things over the past few years, from spotting a “certain something” in Steve’s early digital photographs and urging him to get a DSLR camera when we barely had any money, to giving the manuscript a read before it went off to the publishers. I didn’t know what the dedication was until I held the published book in my hands. What wife wouldn’t feel both appreciation and validation upon reading, “She was right?”
Being right is relative, of course. There’s small-scale being right, as in one’s relationship, parenthood, day-to-day matters in the office, etc. Then there’s large-scale being right, when it involves a lot of people and more objective criteria, which most of us associate with professionalism. When fellow professionals take notice, it’s on a different level than the wife’s.
Photography is an art form that I’d always had difficulty with. Hand me a palette and a brush: I’m fine. Hand me a camera: I’m all duh. The worst part for me was not being able to work out what the problem was and how to fix it, no matter how many times it was explained, how many manuals I’d read, how many trials and errors I’d endured. There just seemed to be too many variables at every stage–the kind of light, the source of light, the relationship between light and shadow, and the myriad settings of camera and lens to manipulate the light–and that was just the start.
Steve’s explanation of the technical elements of photography was the first ever that made any sense to me. As the reviewer at photo.net writes:
Breaking down the many overwhelming aspects and complications of photography, this book manages to focus on what is most relevant in true photographic creation. The Minimalist Photographer touches on all of the key components of authentic photography in an easy to digest and extremely helpful manner.
All the technical expertise in the world can’t make a photograph good unless there’s also some understanding of compositional elements, nor can technical expertise provide much motivation for taking photographs unless you think about why you want to take photographs in the first place. The sections of the book where Steve lays out aesthetics in a systematic, yet sensitive, manner are my favorites. Even if you have never had an art appreciation class in your life, he’ll get you to think about the history of photography and actually imagine your own relationship to it. Good stuff. The Minimalist Photographer (Amazon link) is available in both Kindle and soft cover editions.
The kudos at photo.net came on the heels of Steve’s interview at “The World’s #1 Weekly Photo Magazine,” Amateur Photographer, which is based in the United Kingdom. The article covers his approach to taking “the uncluttered shot,” and the various elements of his minimalist images. It appeared in the 31 August 2013 edition, on pages 28-31, if you happen to have a back copy.
Life with a professional photographer means having a chance to see the familiar things around me through someone else’s eyes. I decorated for Christmas the other day, and at the foot of the tree I’ve set a basket filled with various old Santa and Father Christmas figures, some stuffed, some wood, and a ceramic one. I thought it was cheerful. Steve couldn’t resist taking a photo from his own unique perspective and post it on Google +, entitled “A basket-full of creepy santas ;)”–and I had to laugh.
Steve’s website: The Minimalist Photographer