101 Tips for Street Photography, by Willem Wernsen and Piet van den Eynde


Review by Robert Lankamp

Any book on photography defines itself with its answer to the question why there is photography everywhere. There are three possible answers, which can overlap.
  1. To create memories. Everybody knows photos make excellent archives.
  2. Photography itself. Love of the equipment. A need to know everything about it, the engineering that goes into it, the magic of the image quality, the color, the detail. The satisfaction of understanding exposure, light and shadows, depth of field, photography theory and its rules. The goal is the ability to implement all this, and associating that ability with high-class photography.
  3. Personal. The notion that photography is a primary road of discovery to who you are, by showing how you see the world through what you take your pictures of, and how you do it.
Although 101 Tips for Street Photography doesn’t explicitly say so, the third reason overwhelmingly defines the kind of photo book we’re looking at.

Criticism

When I took it upon myself to write this review, I was determined to find material in 101 Tips with which I wasn’t satisfied, to provide a semblance of objectivity. Already at this point I must however admit that in this respect I’ve failed. I can only say that if you like complaining about what you read, this is not the book for you.

101 Tips is the kind of easygoing, highly true educational book which doesn’t require you to make extensive investments in equipment. A smartphone will do the job. The main kind of investment that is required is in yourself, on time you spend on photography to gain experience. The reader of 101 Tips is reminded more than once that it isn’t the camera that takes the photo, the camera only registers what the photo is intended to be. How good the photo is depends on the photographer, and the definition of a good photo is that it is the one you remember.

You’re in charge

101 Tips is about the practical work of photography. It’s often almost poetical in its expertise, quiet enthusiasm and depth. There’s no need to defend anything, photography is taken as it is, no special prestige. The writers are professionals who talk the talk in a way everybody understands. Smooth and easy, clear, get into the mood, be nice, be patient, be ready, know your gear, look around, talk to people. More than 100 pictures by the authors, and quotations from photography heroes like Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson are there to help create the inspiration.

101 Tips is located in street photography, but most of it is applicable to any kind of popular photography. The book talks to experienced photographers looking for something new, as well as to beginners looking for ways to get started.

The underlying philosophy in 101 Tips is that your photography should be yours, and so you should be in charge. Hopefully it’ll support the development of your photography to new levels.

Willem Wernsen is a street photographer with over forty years’ experience. He has published five photo books, spoken at many workshops and lectures. His work has been exhibited in China and The Netherlands. Piet van den Eynde is a freelance photographer and an Adobe Lightroom Certified Expert who has published more than ten books on digital photography and post-processing.

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