A deeper look at the creativity, art, expression, craft, and philosophy of landscape photography.
More Than a Rock, 2nd Edition is a passionate and personal book about creativity and expression. In this series of over 70 brief essays, photographer and teacher Guy Tal shares his thoughts and experiences as an artist who seeks to express more in his images than the mere appearance of the subject portrayed. Following up on the success of the first edition, this revised edition contains updated imagery, a new essay in each of the book’s four sections—Art, Craft, Experiences, and Meditations—and is presented in a beautiful hardcover format.
Tal makes an argument to consider creative landscape photography—expressing something of the photographer’s conception through the use of natural aesthetics—as a form of visual art that is distinct from the mere representation of beautiful natural scenes. Tal covers topics such as the art of photography, approaches to landscape photography, and the experiences of a working photographic artist. His essays also include reflections on nature and man’s place in it, living a meaningful life, and living as an artist in today’s world.
The book is decidedly non-technical and focuses on philosophy, nature, and visual expression. It was written for those photographers with a passion and interest in creative photography. Anyone who is pursuing their work as art, is in need of inspiration, or is interested in the writings of a full-time working photographic artist will benefit from reading this book. The book is visually punctuated with Tal’s inspiring and breathtaking photography.
“Some images look like things, while others feel like things; some images are of things, while others are about things. A creative image is not a record of a scene nor a substitute for a real experience. Rather, it is an experience in itself—an aesthetic experience—something new that the artist has given the world, rather than a contrived view of something that already existed independent of them.”
“The medium of photography has a long tradition of practitioners who were not only masterful photographers, but were also insightful and thoughtful writers—the thinking man’s photographers. Among them we find such greats as John Szarkowski, Minor White, Bill Jay, and Robert Adams. It is no exaggeration to include Guy Tal on this esteemed list.”
— From the Foreword, by Chuck Kimmerle
Gloria November 30, 2020
First off, the author titled the book from a quotation “by the great photographer Edward Weston. I’ll let you read it yourself :-). Tal is an author who makes us think about our passion for photography on a different level, both technically and philosophically. After finishing the book I know that I will re-read this one and keep it in my library.
Tal ponders the upside and downside of targeting our photography toward a particular audience. A good question, even if you don’t make a living as a photographer. We all want an audience, or at least I do :-). Tal suggests that, if he had only one piece of information to give to beginning photographers, it would be to consciously move past a phase of lack of emotional feeling if you are aware of it. Tall argues that having an emotional connection to our images will make all the difference.
I enjoyed the chapter on what it means to be an “artist“. One of the points I appreciated learning is that deciding what art is, is probably one of the most subjective things humans do. Thus, worrying about other peoples’ opinion of whether or not you are an artist is pointless. He comes down to defining an artist by three things, creativity, passion, and philosophy. These are things other photography books don’t discuss and I much appreciated the discussion of it here. Interestingly, the author has a chapter arguing that photography is not about finding “the moment“ as Henri Cartier-Bresson would argue, but is instead about being so involved in what you are photographing that time and other matters are transcended. More than a moment, it’s a flow. I enjoyed reading the section and I find that for me, it rings true.
The author, though he says he has strong political opinions, believes that art transcends politics and so does not publicize his politics. Agree or not, it’s food for thought.
Our author concludes this interesting, worthwhile book on the philosophy of photography talking about why he chooses to shoot landscapes and rocks rather than people. I’ll leave it for readers to discover his reasoning but I found it novel and provocative as well. I can’t say that I disagree with him! This is not a how-to book, but a why book, the way I look at it. I enjoyed thinking about the questions he raises and reading about an aspect of photography besides technical. I think if you ponder on the questions raised in this book your photography will be, if not better, more meaningful for you.
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