Art Wolfe is a world class photographer, and it shows in The Art of the Photograph. There are a lot of books on photographic composition (I own several, and I’ve looked through a lot more in various libraries), but this is far and away the best introduction to photographic composition I have come across. If you aren’t an experienced professional photographer, this book is an absolute must read. (I am assuming professionals already know this stuff.)
Composition is one of the most important artistic decisions in creating a photograph, and this book will do more than any other book I know to help to start you down the road to better compositions.
The Art of the Photograph begins with a chapter on what inspires you. How many books start off by asking if you have created a place to live that inspires you photographically? For years Art has been turning his yard into a place of photographic inspiration. I was so taken by the thought that I went out and planted a garden that would inspire me to take pictures.
Art Wolfe and co-author Rob Sheppard move on to cover all the important issues in composition, the subject, constructing an image, the elements of design (lines, shapes, form, texture), creative solutions, and a lot more. Lavishly illustrated with how own beautiful images, this book is head and shoulders above the other introductions to composition I have read.
You would be doing yourself a huge favor to read, reread, and absorb the principles in this book, and especially if you go out, camera in hand, and practice.
In the words of Dewitt Jones (a world class photographer for National Geographic), “The Art of the Photograph takes photography apart and then puts it back together again. Amateur photographers often struggle with the beautiful imagery in publications like National Geographic, assuming it is beyond what the average photographer can do. This book breaks it down, connecting beautiful pictures with easy-to-understand ideas about how to maser your own photography, to create images that celebrate your experience with the world. . . . Study it, enjoy it, experience it. It will go a long way toward helping you become a better photographer.” (The Art of the Photograph, Foreword, page 8.)
No single book on composition can cover everything, which is why I recommend the superb three book set on advanced compositional techniques by Michael Freeman.
This is one in a series of articles that will guide you to the best of all things photographic. The rest are here: Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.