In the early days of photography, there were heated debates as to whether it was a legitimate art form or not. While that's not so much an issue anymore, photography still has its demons: digital doctoring to the point that the photograph is no longer an actual photograph, indecent content, iPhone snapshots (sorry instagram users), etc.
Part of the problem is that photographic technology has proliferated, but instruction in using it properly has not. Everyone with a device of any kind that takes pictures fancies himself a photographer, so there are all kinds of images inundating us on social media, the broader Internet, and our cell phones that don't demonstrate the elements of good photography.
We're not just trying to be snobs, here. There's nothing wrong with snapping off a quick pic to send to friends to show you were in New York City or that your daughter just learned to roll over. At the same time, there might be something wrong with trying to palm off such images as photographs, and then sharing them with the world, or at least your extended network.
The current age is not a mindful age, meaning that we do things without thinking about them, either in terms of themselves or in terms of their consequences. While there are worse things to be careless about than photography, it doesn't hurt to slow down and take your time to get better at it, and to do your best to create images that are vivid, engaging, and even artistic.
Professional photographers often spend more time finding locations and setting up the composition of a photograph than actually snapping shots. The goal isn't to just show something exactly as it is, but to evoke a feeling through portraying it creatively and imaginatively. To do this well, the photographer needs to both know the technical use of the camera, and to have an artistic perception.
The books you'll find in this category take both elements into account. Most of the books on technical aspects are introductory, designed for those who don't know an f-stop from an aperture; books that focus on the artistic element are generally no more than collections of good photographs.
As Christians, we're called to do everything to the glory of God. If we don't care how our snapshots and photographs turn out, to what extent can we claim to be pursuing this goal? While not everyone needs to have the same photographs, if we're serious about looking to Christ in our every action, we need to cultivate mindfulness in whatever we're doing, even in something as seemingly trivial as taking a picture.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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