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The Heart of the Photograph

100 Questions for Making Stronger, More Expressive Photographs

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Learn to ask better, more helpful questions of your work so that you can create stronger and more powerful photographs.   Photographers often look at an image—one they’ve either already created or are in the process of making—and ask themselves a simple question: “Is this a good photograph?” It’s...
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  • Print and eBook Bundle: $49.99
  • Print Book: $39.95
  • eBook: $31.99


Product ID: 2268988 SKU: 1184 Categories: , , , , ,

David duChemin


312 pages









  • Better Questions
  • Is It Good?
  • The Audience's Good
  • The Photographer's Good
  • Better Subjects
  • Exploration and Expression
  • What Is the Light Doing?
  • What Does Colour Contribute?
  • What Role Do the Lines and Shapes Play?
  • What's Your Point of View?
  • What Is the Quality of the Moment?
  • Where Is the Story?
  • Where Is the Contrast?
  • What About Balance and Tension?
  • What Is the Energy?
  • How Can I Use Space and Scale?
  • Can I Go Deeper?
  • What About the Frame?
  • Do the Elements Repeat?
  • Harmony
  • Can I Exclude More?
  • Where Does the Eye Go?
  • How Does It Feel?
  • Where's the Mystery?
  • Remember When?
  • Can I Use Symbols?
  • Am I Being Too Literal?
  • The Heart of the Photograph
  • Index

9 reviews for The Heart of the Photograph

  1. I love duChemin’s writing and was eager to get into this book. Not disappointed: as usual, the author was both articulate and entertaining as he tells us how to shoot intentionally. This is more a philosophically-based photography book merely a how-to book. Of course, as he answers his 100 questions, he is also telling us how to be a better photographer. He begins by asking whether we should care so much about making a “good“ photograph or should rather look at what we hope to achieve with our photography. I love discussions like this because they result in more creativity in my work.

    The author talks about finding better subjects and discusses the Japanese idea of Wabi Sabi. In other words, the imperfect, even decaying subjects can have their own beauty and meaning. I heartily agree — I often go shooting in gardens when the blooms are far past their prime.

    DuChemin suggests that we think about the energy exhibited within our photographs. Have to say, I have never thought about it that way but will henceforth. He points out, reasonably, that the right energy in your photo will bring it to life. He uses the example of photographing a waterfall, and using a longer frame to suggest a more powerful waterfall. Of course, you may give up context with such a narrow image, but the energy would undoubtedly be improved. This book is full of great ideas and motivators to get us out there shooting – especially during this terrible pandemic, when we have nothing but time on our hands.

    Toward the middle of the book he asks if we can go deeper. The book is made up of 100 questions followed by the author’s short treatise with his own personal answers. I found them interesting and helpful, and a novel way to teach us how to be better photogs. Part of his answer for going deeper is using ultra-wide and wide-angle lenses to give us some peripheral vision to engage us in the image. For example, he tells us that he is immersed in a project where by he shoots wide-angle images of the people most important to him. I love hearing novel takes on something we do so often: photograph our family members 🙂

    Among the concluding essays of this entertaining and useful book the author asks us where the mystery is. How intriguing a question is that! He then gives us great tips on how to engage the imagination of our viewers. For example, using shadows purposely to hide details, using juxtaposition, and even blurring certain elements to create mystery. As I usually find with this author, he gives us ideas for our photography that I have not seen elsewhere.

    This is most definitely a book I will return to because he gives us so much to take in. It’s the kind of photography book that motivates me to grab my camera and try some of what he’s talking about right away. It’s well worth the read!

  2. (verified owner)

    It was with great excitement that I received David’s newest book. And I have to say I am very happy with it! In it the author shares his insight in helping the reader develop a better photography mindset. If you have read any of his previous works, you know David blends a unique blend of craft, insight, and philosophy. This one stays true to that vein. In it he looks at various questions and then follows up with his own insight and reflections.

    Overall, this is another great book in what I consider to be a great “series”, which includes “Within the Frame” and “The Soul of the Camera”. (And to be clear, I don’t know if David considers these a series or just a continuation of his thoughts. The description “series” is mine, not the author’s). I recommend this book especially if you want to look at the reasons behind your photos and how to take steps toward making memorable photography.

  3. (verified owner)

    I have been following David’s work, his books, articles, his blog for years. And this year he has gifted us with a weekly podcast. I believe i have almost all of David’s books, and so was grateful to be able to purchase this newest book The heart of the photograph.. David’s photographs are beautiful and each and everyone tell as story. His ability to share his insight while photographing, and then to see the finished photograph in the book, enhances my ability to understand and learn from him, how to capture the story. David shares his passion of photography, and capturing the image, in a manner that resonates with my work. He is able to blend both the learning of the craft, with a philosophy to assist us in discovering our own voice. This book is my newest bible, which i read daily. Always grateful for David’s insight and actually look forward to taking a workshop with him sometime in the future


    Like most of the other reviewers, I have been reading David duChemin’s superb books since his first one,”Within The Frame,” which was published in 2009. I think that this book, “The Heart of the Photograph,” needs to be read in concert with his prior book, “The Soul of the Camera.” Read together, these 2 books do, indeed, take us into “the heart” and “the soul “ of photography. As he clearly states, these are not “how to” books. I mention this because the subtitle, “100 Questions for Making Stronger, More Expressive Photographs,” could be potentially misleading. duChemin’s question is the one of “why.” From “Within the Frame” that had the subtitle of “The Journey of Photographic Vision,” he has sought to take us deeper into this photographic journey. Because he has sought to take us into our hearts and our souls, I have taken a longer time to read this book than I normally do. It certainly has not been a quick read. I have spent time thinking seriously about the questions he poses. As he says early on, he wants us to learn “to see things and think about things in new ways.” For anyone who has been photographing as long as I have (70 years), this may not be easy to do. Nevertheless, however long you have been photographing, and whatever your deeply held convictions about photography, I encourage to go with duChemin on this terrific journey.

    Probably what I loved most about “The Heart of the Photograph” is that the author’s primary goal is to enable each photographer to create the photographs that most fully enrich his or her life. You, the photographer, and no one else (take that literally) should determine your photographic goals. duChemin’s desire is to better enable us to accomplish those goals. I am reminded of a story the fine photographer and instructor, Chris Orwig tells about when he was asked to speak to his daughter’s kindergarten class. He asked the class 2 questions. First, he has asked them, “Can any of you draw?” Every hand shot up. And then he asked them, “Can anybody sing?” Again, every hand shot up. After this experience, he went to his class at the world renowned Brookes Institute and asked the same question. Just a smattering of hands were raised in answer to either of these questions. What happens to us? Where, and how, do we lose the delight and the joy for doing the things that we love? Those kids did not draw or sing to please others. Art for them was not a competition. Their sense of self-worth was not hooked in to the rules or someone else’s expectations. They were passionate about what they did.

    The questions that duChemin raises and explores with us photographers are designed to enable us to take our passion for photography and create photographs that express photographically what lies deep within our hearts and our souls. This does not mean that photography is easy; it’s not. To create photographs that are real windows into the depths of our being calls for all of the help that we can get. And I know of no one who can better ask the right questions (the deep, penetrating questions) with which to wrestle, the questions to explore; the answers to which will enable each of us to create photographs that are truly satisfying to us personally than David duChemin.

    For what it is worth, “The Heart of the Photograph” is a terrific antidote to people pleasing. And it is a wonderful book to learn to truly please ourselves.

    One last thing, do yourselves a favor and read all of the 5 star reviews. They will give you some valuable insights.

  5. (verified owner)

    I have been reading and following David’s work for well over a decade. His physical books are on my bookshelf and the eBooks in my soft-library. The four reviews appearing above really addresses why David’s writing is unique and he delves into areas of artistic development that most others won’t or are unable to discuss. So what can I say that adds to the reviews above? What I can say is that once you have learnt the technical aspects of the craft of photography sufficiently, that you are producing competent but ‘boring’ images you have to embark on a new journey. That journey is the development of your artistry and getting acquainted with the processes of your soul that will guide you in your journey. There is no one correct path to artistic development but many possibilities. David’s writings like this book, the “Soul of the Camera” and “Beautiful Alchemy” help you identify the markers of your journey, assure you that you are progressing and your journey and its artifacts (your photographs) can be authentic and honest manifestations of the unique you. I think what I am trying to say is that David is validating that your honest work is your authentic work.

  6. (verified owner)

    David DuChemin is a photography guru for the ages. His work is compelling, mind-bending, and inspiring. He encourages his readers to seek deeper, go further, and never stop learning. This is a book that will engage with the reader in the truest sense of the word. If you are searching for clarity in your photographic voice, or want to take your skills far beyond simply taking a good exposure, The Heart of the Photograph is what you’ve been searching for.

  7. (verified owner)

    I first came upon DuCHemin’s work while taking a photography class at my local community college. I was so impressed by his work that I bought an extra copy and gave it to my instructor so she might incorporate some ideas into her lectures and assignment. The prof was also impressed by the work. Since then I’ve followed DuChemin’s publications and make it a point to acquire them. This book is another welcome addition to my library. The work is very readable and moves me to think about how to make my own efforts a bit better. It was a worthwhile acquisition.

  8. (verified owner)

    Being a fan of David DuChemin’ s books and pictures , I ordered The Heart of the Photograph and I can only recomend this book for all photographers whising to enhance their craft. No prescriptions, but lots of food for your mind. Exciting way to forget about technicalities and to focus to your intentions.

  9. This is a must read for any photographer that thinks he has mastered the art form. The author, David duChemin is a master writer and came up with a unique way to show how the reader can improve their images.

    The reading is easy, BUT, if you follow the author you need to think a whole lot more than read. Every chapter is filled with questions; not ‘how-to’ or ‘technical’, but how to look at the subjects, how to achieve what you desire and how to you get your viewers to really engage in your work.

    My favorite question, which I have always tried to answer before I clicked the shutter, was in Chapter 12.. “What makes my subject stand out, and how can I make it stand out more.” When you can answer this question you can stop reading.

    Every photographer should have this book and use it!

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