Build a Better Photograph
A Disciplined Approach to Creativity
Publisher: Rocky Nook
Released: November 2009
Pages: 160

While many books address the equipment, techniques, and compositional approaches to image creation, few describe the steps involved in the creation of the picture idea. This book is a passport to the creative process of professional artists. The context is photography but the ideas can be applied across the board. This book emphasizes working out how to achieve the end result before we begin. A key question is what do we have to get right as we shoot and what can we achieve later in post-processing? The correct answer will drive the quality of our imagery and extend our careers.

This book is not a how-to book on making photographs. Rather, this book is about the creative process of conceptualizing ideas and executing those ideas to make a photograph. How do artists conceptualize? Where do they get their ideas? How do they incorporate those ideas into their work?

Compositing and storytelling abilities have never been easier and more difficult to achieve. Sound contradictory? It is. Illogical? It is. We will journey together to solve the many whys and hows so that the technology does not get in the way of image content and story.

As it relates to a particular topic in the text, there are discussions about photographic theory, lighting, composition, color and, of course, Photoshop. Included are examples of my work, each with a detailed examination of my creative process for that particular photograph. Again the idea here is to examine creativity in a way that demystifies the process.

Artists create. Good artists have a process. Great artists have discipline. This book is about all three.

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Rocky NookBuild a Better Photograph
 
4.0

(based on 3 reviews)

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Pros

  • Accurate (3)
  • Helpful examples (3)
  • Well-written (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (3)

    Reviewed by 3 customers

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    4.0

    Getting into the nitty gritty details

    By Anne Marie

    from Los Angeles

    About Me Designer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Concise
    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Expert
      • Intermediate

      Comments about Rocky Nook Build a Better Photograph:

      How often are we able to get inside the head of a photographer these days without them thinking we are trying to "steal" information for our own gain? With Michael's book and cd, he does just that. I have always wanted to sit down with a really talented photographer and discuss in depth how to do more complicated set ups. With this book, now I have the tools to take my photographs to the next level.

      I appreciate his humor and candidness throughout the material.

      These techniques are not for the person who just picked up a camera for the first time. This is pretty advanced stuff that can really make a difference in your photos.

      Thanks for letting us "see" how to be a better photo "builder" for our clients.

      Anne Marie Lord

       
      5.0

      Build A Better Photograph

      By Doc

      from Lancaster, PA

      About Me Educator

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Autobiographical in part
      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Inspirational
      • Interesting
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate

        Comments about Rocky Nook Build a Better Photograph:

        This is one of the more interesting photography books I have read during my sixty years doing photography. The four chapters of the book are; The Environmental Portrait, Compositing Techniques, 3D Scanning of Found Objects, and Great Product Photography. When just considering the topics, one might think this is a real potpourri of subjects.

        But this is more than just a book of technique. The four chapters are autobiographical and reflect his philosophy and approach to developing a better photograph. In one sense, he allows the reader to "get into his thinking process" and that is important because it allows one to better understand how he has been successful.

        He reveals in large part how he has marketed and negotiated his commercial contracts. I suspect some readers will be less interested in that aspect of his writings.

        The book contains significant information on how Photoshop was used to achieve the specific photo discussed in each section. One soon realizes that a project requires an in-depth knowledge of digital imaging and how to use Photoshop. The examples are not for the neophyte in digital photography.

        For those who are looking for the step-by-step technical aspects off digital imaging the book is accompanied by a CD which has several in-depth sections including tutorials covering specific operations or techniques in Photoshop. Also there are brief sections on understanding the basics of digital images, your monitor and printing.

        This is primarily a book for photographers who wish to advance their capabilities. For those new to photography and Photoshop, I'd suggest studying the CD material first; then read the book.

        Charles Heisterkamp, III, M.D. - Photographer

         
        3.0

        Interesting Insight from a Seasoned Pro

        By Jeremy Hall

        from Pleasant Grove, UT

        About Me Designer, Photographer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

        • Not comprehensive enough
        • Waxes Philosphical

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate

        Comments about Rocky Nook Build a Better Photograph:

        3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Insight from a Seasoned Professional, February 3, 2010

        From the title I originally anticipated more of a technical how-to book, but was surprised to find more of a philosophical share of insight from Michael Stern. I quickly found Stern to be someone that has come from a long "old school" career, yet has embraced the capabilities of digital photography, particularly Photoshop manipulation.

        Though I found many of the ideas shared by Stern on his thought process from start to finish on a project interesting, I felt he often waxed long on where it was unnecessary. Perhaps his storytelling fits some readers well, but for me I became disinterested at times tending to skip ahead to the next section. That said, seeing a project from all the angles involved - from pre-visualization to lighting to post processing - provided valuable insight into the approach taken by a long time professional.

        This book is an interesting read for a moderately to advanced skilled photographer already familiar with the basics of lighting, exposure and digital post processing techniques.

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