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The Essence of Photography, 2nd Edition

Seeing and Creativity

In this fully revised and greatly expanded second edition of The Essence of Photography, world-renowned photographer and teacher Bruce Barnbaum draws upon 50 years of experience and observation to teach the art of photographic seeing and creativity.There is a lot more to photography than simply picking up a camera...
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  • Print and eBook Bundle: $59.99
  • Print Book: $49.95
  • eBook: $39.99

The ebook is available now and the print book is available for Pre-order. The estimated ship date is March 16, 2021.
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Product ID: 2291525 SKU: 1212. Categories: , , , , , .

Bruce Barnbaum


368 pages


10 x 10in


Soft Cover - with flaps





  • Finding Your Voice
  • Your Interests and Your Imagery
  • Learning to See
  • Keen Observation as a Starting Point
  • Looking and Seeing: Photographing Versus Editing
  • Who Are You Trying to Please?
  • The Right and Wrong of "Connecting with Viewers"
  • Did It Look Like That?
  • Happiness Via Photography
  • Both Sides Now
  • Finding Inspiration for Realism or Abstraction
  • The Heart of Intuition and Creativity
  • Exercising Photographic Judgment
  • Learning Through Photographic Workshops and Associates
  • Seeking, Accepting, and Offering Criticism
  • Technical Knowledge, Materials, and Equipment for Creative Purposes
  • Technical and Artistic Considerations
  • Choosing Your Photographic Methods and Tools for Expressive Photography
  • Breaking the Rules and Following Your Passion

1 review for The Essence of Photography, 2nd Edition

  • I know Bruce Barnbaum to be both and interesting and quite helpful writer so I am looking forward to reading his second edition of this photography book. The table of contents is enough to make you eager to read: finding your groove, who are you trying to please, did it look like that?, breaking the rules, and many more thought provoking chapter titles.

    Early on the author asks us to employ more of our own personal judgment and discretion when capturing an image. He argues convincingly that “pixels are free“ is not a good reason to shoot all the pix you possibly can at a given time. First, he points out that you then have to go home and cull all those photos. I agree wholeheartedly with the author here because I try to be more judicious in my snapping the shutter. Otherwise, I spend way too much time going through a thousand pics after just an hour’s shoot! Of course there’s also the fact that if we don’t employ judgment in what we photograph, we may not get the photo we would have actually wanted!

    Amazingly, Barnbaum once wrote to Ansel Adams, sending him some of Barnbaum’s photographs, and Ansel Adams responded! I won’t ruin any surprises, but wow. Barnbaum also amuses us: in one section he talks about a photographer he met who worked in a small town photographing weddings, and, who knows, maybe divorces 🙂

    And the author is decidedly not about the money. He tells us that the worst photos he has seen from other professionals are ones where the photographer asks herself: who will buy this? Although I’m not a professional and cannot directly speak to this, I do generally strive to shoot the image I want to see, and I think he’s right to encourage that — even for professionals who have to make a living at it.

    The book has a very useful section on why we should, as often as we can, define for ourselves what we are trying to express. That maximizes your chance of getting the images you envision. Barnbaum points out a couple of potential issues I had not thought of: one is that, in our desire to have dramatic photos, we often misapply technique. For example, too high in contrast, color too saturated, etc. Second, he points out that Photoshop makes misapplication of technique too easy :-).

    And the author has a good response to photographers who are afraid that everything has been photographed: he says that probably yes, most things have been photographed but it’s much more about how they are photographed.

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