Thursday, May 8, 2014

eBook Review - "The shy photographer's guide to confidence"

Being free is not a reason why an eBook on photography is immune from being reviewed. Thus, one of the free eBooks discovered by a simple hunt for "free eBook photography" is subject to a review. Generally it looks interesting from the outside but turned out to be an ultimately disappointing read that was not best suited to the viewing size of a standard tablet.

The book kicks off with great promise, hoping to instill confidence in its readers to get out there and take photos. Maybe it's just because there isn't a lack of confidence here that it didn't have any great effect. Perhaps the single most frustrating thing about the book is the format. It's very wide and does not lend itself to easy page turns. It seems very much to take on a letter-box format when it's on an already quite wide tablet screen. There's no way with the PDF of reformatting it to fit a 16x9 screen. Thus it has to remain in its truly bizarre 28x9 format. This, of course, means that the print is incredibly tiny and that each page has to be enlarged and panned in order to read it. Reading such a book because of the strange page sizes is not easy. It is almost as though the book were designed to be one of the coffee table books that many photographers publish through one of the many vanity publishers and then published as PDF in an attempt to bolster sales.

The writing style of the book is very "chatty" and unprofessional however, this is probably the author's first or only book so it's possible to let that slip by. Generally, the book is heavy on blank space. It's 115 pages, about half of which have text on them and about 14 lines of text per page. This is not a book that's going to take anybody any effort to read and is one which printed out could probably be flipped through in about 20 minutes.

It takes about a fifth of the book before the author makes their first worthwhile statement which is that confidence and the lack of it affects others similarly. Lack of confidence in one's work brings lack of confidence from one's audience. At this point the book does not look too promising but holding off on final judgement reading was continued.

The chapter on travel photography is a little laughable. The author talks about the lack of people in most travel photos and then goes on to show on the next page a photograph of an individual in whose eyes appear to be reflections of three studio softboxes and the photographer. After this, the book degenerated into a series of passages that didn't even look worth reading and got flipped through, just reading some quite banal headlines.

By about half way through the book, most of the statements seem to have been lifted straight out of a sales manual - smile, ask questions, dress nicely, prepare some jokes. Actually that latter bit is not that great advice. Humor is very subjective and probably best avoided - especially in a world where people are actively looking for reasons to be offended.

Perhaps the most important thing the author says is that since we can see almost every image from photographers worldwide, it's easy to consider somebody else's images superior and to feel bad about one's own. Her advice seems to be to ignore what others post. Strangely that's a lesson straight from kindergarten and it seems bizarre to repeat it in a book on confidence in photography.

Paradoxically, the author goes on to talk about reasons why somebody should not be a professional photographer then goes on to prove that it's not a real job while talking as though it is a real job. The author then goes on to fail spectacularly to explain why photography should be considered a real job which one would consider absolutely critical if the book truly is about building self confidence in one's chosen role as a photographer.

Perhaps one of the most important things the author says is to make a list of things at the end of every meeting - what went well, what could be improved upon and ideas for the next meeting. That is applicable to just about every area of life, including job hunting.

Generally, the book was a disappointing read that seemed to promise much but really only boiled down to a couple of worksheets at the back that were rather counsellor-esque. On the whole, it's not a book that it's possible to recommend as being a particularly well-written or good book though perhaps some people might find it helpful. 

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