STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – The Art of Capturing the Candid Moment – Book Review

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – The Art of Capturing the Candid Moment
by Gordon Lewis
Rocky Nook
ISBN 978-1-937538-37-8
144 pages
US $ 29.95, CAN $ 34.95


There are so many photography how-to books that the budding photographer hardly has time to catch his or her breath before embarking on another set of rules for this or that kind of image making. Whether it be fine art photography, fashion, or wedding photography there are tomes a-plenty to help with the chores of learning the ropes, and that’s a good thing.

For Street Photography there was nothing for fans of the genre before now. Gordon Lewis’ newly published book, Street Photography, The Art of Capturing the Candid Moment, is a first of its kind. He breaks down the art and craft of street photography in order to inform us as to what street photographers might encounter wherever their nose for photos takes them.

Some people, actually most people, use a camera for what we might term as snapshots, taking pictures of people and places we’ve seen in order to remember the good times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a camera for those tasks. The author suggests that we shouldn’t get confused with street photography. For those of us who have a bit of an artistic bent, who want a little more from our cameras than just pictures, who want our photos to stand out from the rest of the pack, who have something more to say than just “say cheese,” Gordon leads us from mediocrity to the path of purposefully creating photos that have a soul, or a meaning beyond the obvious.

One of Gordon’s heroes with a camera is Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose black and white images of his day were not only appealing to the eye but, on another level, important to the greater social message he was trying to convey. Many others during his time and after have followed suit with creative images, which, at first sight might seem like snapshots, but after careful inspection they became beacons to our culture and society. They’re statements. These photographers developed a style all their own, and Gordon strongly suggests that you can too.

Peppered throughout the book is a gallery of images from not only our esteemed author but from the likes of: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, Steve Dierkens, Rinzi Ruiz, and the list goes on. The pictures are worth the price of the book.

Gordon shows us that style can be developed along with technique and thoughtfulness about the subject at hand. A good photographer must know his equipment if he is to be successful and Gordon covers that aspect thoroughly. He talks about learning who you are as a photographer, how to set up your camera for your particular style; digital, film, flash vs. no flash; different size cameras, tripods, lenses; really the whole gamut of tools, even down to shoes you wear and glasses versus contact lenses. He leaves no stone unturned as he methodically unfolds what a street photographer will experience.

One controversial aspect of street shooting is communicating with people. Or not. I know this sounds a little paradoxical, but in the business of street photography some of it is done, mostly out of necessity, quickly and anonymously. How far can one go when photographing people? What about privacy? Gordon addresses these sometimes very sensitive issues with common sense and tact.

What Gordon’s book is really about is creating a style and how to do it. He is down to earth, concise, and knowledgeable. We are presented with suggestions and he leaves enough open for us to interpret and create our own chops. For those who have just begun the photographic journey, Street Photography is an eye opening adventure into a worthwhile artistic endeavor that can be as satisfying as any artistic expression, photographic or other.

MyMac gives Gordon Lewis’ book Street Photography, The art of Capturing the Candid Moment five thumbs up. One for clarity and brevity, one for an easygoing writing style, one for originality in content, one for the photos themselves, and one for recognizing and introducing to us Street Photography as an art form.

Perfect score: MyMac Review Rating is 10 out of 10.

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