A lot of us want to take better pictures but don’t know where to start. In The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life, renowned photographer George Lange (along with Cooking Light editor Scott Mowbray) says it’s not about using expensive equipment or getting caught up in technical details but in ways of seeing, in capturing moments rather than subjects, exploring connections and evoking emotion. It’s about feeling and playing and living the moments, forgoing cliches for fresh perspectives. Lange uses photos from his daily life to share lessons on everything from composition and lighting to exploring intimacy and the rhythm of a moment. If you want to learn how to shoot photos that are more meaningful and personal, it might be just what you’re looking for.
The book’s been out for a few years but the advice is timeless. Here in the chapter called Keeping it Real, Lange encourages readers to look for the beauty in a place of fear (tip #23).
“Some people use the camera to remove themselves from the scene and be the cool observer, but for me it’s a tool to get further in … In this case I was with my son, who had been admitted with a worrisome stomach ailment. Jackson is used to having the camera in the mix, so he was comfortable with me taking pictures, even here.
One morning, after a night when I had stayed over with him, we woke up and cleared the windowsill so he could watch the sun rise over the parking lot. ‘Daddy, that is the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen, he said.’ Backlit, the IV bag all aglow: This is not where we wanted to be, yet, when you look, beauty is everywhere.”
This photo spoke to me too. It’s paired with tip #29 (again in the same chapter), and titled Don’t Force A Smile.
“There is nothing more joyful than a genuine moment of happiness, but there’s a whole bucketful of emotions that get lost in the forced smile,” Lange writes. “Lately I have found myself asking people to simply look into the camera with their lips closed. It yields a better, more natural shot. This picture of a friend’s grandmother would look strange if she had a big grin. Instead, it’s a gorgeous, honest shot: not sad, just rich and interesting.”
While Lange insists great photos can be taken with phones, point-and-shoots and professional-grade cameras alike, he does include a primer on DSLRs (how they work, what to look for). There’s also a few interesting DIYs for displaying photos to create “visual surprises.”
I turn to this book again and again — it’s useful, easy to read and many of the pictures are simply stunning. To have a resource like this at your fingertips is invaluable (and for about $20 online, a steal!).
For a chance to win a copy of The Unforgettable Photograph, tell me about a photograph that’s unforgettable to you. (This entry is mandatory.)
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Take the best pictures of your life! #Win The Unforgettable Photograph from @trysmallthings http://wp.me/p4xBed-4fP CAN 3/11
The giveaway is open to Canadian residents 18+ and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 11, 2017. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another will be selected.
Update March 14, 2017: Congratulations Creative Cat!
Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy of The Unforgettable Photograph in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.