Book Title: 101 Mistakes Photographers Should Never Make: Lessons from Professionals Who Know
Author: Karen Dórame
Style: Illustrated How-To Book
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Non-Fiction, Photography, Instructional
Page Count: 128
Format: Paperback (library)
Reading time: 1.5 hours
Date Finished: 1/14/17
My impressions: I picked this book up at the library today – how could I resist such a title? – and quickly discovered that it was written for an audience of aspiring professional photographers and not amateurs like myself. Author and professional photographer Karen Dórame has compiled a list of 101 tips for aspiring pros (plus a few bonus tips for the casual photographer), but the intriguing title isn’t very representative of the content inside.
The good news is that this book offers a lot of practical advice on every topic a would-be professional might consider – there’s advice on the gear to own, the techniques to use, the light to employ and the software for post-processing. I learned a few things I didn’t know (or which I needed reinforced), and because that’s the ultimate aim of the book, I’m grateful to the author for it. It’s always nice to pick up practical tips from people who’ve been involved in an activity for awhile.
The bad news is that the tips aren’t so much about mistakes as they are about habits, and while I was hoping the book would be focused on tips about composition and setting poses, far too many of the tips are about setting common sense rules that the book then encourages the aspiring photographer to break when it’s convenient or sensible to do so. As the book winds towards its ending, the number of tips per page begins accelerating, and many of the latter tips don’t offer much depth or detail. I was particularly frustrated with the tips about composition since they seemed rather arbitrary and referenced deep topics (like Renaissance painting and the rule of thirds) without exploring them or providing any recommendations for good sources on them.
(I find deliberately employing the rule of thirds in my own photography a particularly difficult topic since photographers tend to explain it in a fashion that essentially says, “You know it when I see it,” but then offer examples that are far from obvious adherents to the rule. As an amateur photographer, I only really luck into good composition using the rule of thirds, and I can think of a number of great photographs that don’t adhere to it at all.)
Fortunately, there are some gorgeous photographs in the book that display the talent of the author and other photographers who’ve contributed advice, and I did pick up a few insights about portraiture and studio photography (which are the focus of many of the most salient tips). My only complaint is that the author is so enamored with expensive gear that she doesn’t offer many practical tips for using consumer-grade gear to get good pictures. Many pros I’ve heard lecture will admit they’ve used consumer-grade equipment to get some great (saleable or publishable!) shots, lending credence to the truth that it isn’t the gear that makes the photograph great; it’s the person behind the camera.
Since I won’t be spending thousands of dollars on photography gear anytime soon, it’s hard not to feel like this book is talking down to me as a result. But again, misleading title aside, it’s pretty clear I’m not its intended audience.