Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Review of Zen Camera: Creative Awakening With a Daily Practice in Photography by David Ulrich

Creative Awakening With A Daily Practice in Photography basically accurately sums up this book. Goodnight.

Just kidding. 

Kind of. 

That actually sums up what this book offers you pretty well, however. 

Just like as a writer, you need to carry around a notebook, and as an artist, you need to use your sketchbook, in photography, you need to take photos. That's your walking and waking meditation. 

But photography isn't just for those people filling your Instagram feed with black and white photos, it's a (now easily) accessible artform for all of us. And with mindfulness, it's an important one in a culture flooded with advertised and often false images. Photo-aficionado or not, this book will teach you good habits of photography that you can keep in that artform or use for the medium you create in. 

It's written gently. Which a book with this title should be. Ulrich doesn't claim to be a Zen master but the guiding chapters of this book feel very close to that. If you're looking for a fast how-to, this isn't your book, though. It's careful, calm, and practiced, and leads you through exercises you can use in daily photography.

One of my favorites was just to use whatever camera you have to document tons of photographs. It's fun, it's calming (unlike painting or writing, which can sometimes be those things and can sometimes drive you insane). I have a pricey digital camera from my university photography class (which I hated, and I kind of hate the camera, too). Ever carried a heavy camera around with you while keeping up with the ever-expanding stuff of three kids? It's hard to get it together to even get a shot. So, I just kind of stopped photographing as much. This book encouraged me to pick it back up, using the right settings on a camera phone. The results may not be as clean as the Pentax, but they are results. Branding has made many an artist blind to the fact that your tools are not what makes your art stun. This text won't try to sell you anything. 

The book is full of reminders about the things we all know and need to hear again- the important stuff. It also will cover lighting and playing with editing software and those hard basics, but this reads exactly the way you think it would. And it's beautiful.

I'd recommend Zen Camera for everyone in any art field and anyone interested in taking pictures.  

"Photography immortalizes fleeting moments in time. It is your moment to select out of the flow of life, and it reveals as much about you as it does the world itself." (page 38, Zen Camera). 

A few of the many photographs I started documenting after reading Zen Camera. Rather than
scripted shots of smiling kids, I wanted to kind of show what family life felt like. It's kind of messy and scattered and still lovely. This is an inspirational book with fun exercises. 
*I received this book for Blogging For Books for this review*

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