Unsolicited editorials on cameras, lenses, film, developer, and black and white photography in general.

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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Street Photog: A Photographic Survival Manual

From time to time someone at work approaches me and mentions being interested (or having a son or daughter interested) in photography. Invariably someone has a point-and-shoot film or digital camera and wants to explore getting a bit more serious. When I ask “Which genre?” or “Black and white?” or “Film or digital?” the response is usually something like "You tell me." I could suggest that they go to Barnes and Noble, pick up an introductory photography book, and read it. But that's overkill that could turn them off instead of on. There seems to be a cottage industry in introductory photography books, and there is a lot about photography that isn’t covered in those books. It would be cheaper and more useful to go to Barnes and Noble, buy me a few cups of coffee, and we can talk about photography for a few hours. Not about aperture, not about field depth, and not about stop bath. About what separates a snapshot from an interesting photograph, about why he/she should use film instead of digital, and about how to go about choosing your genre of photography. Better yet, they could buy Peter Nebergall’s Street Photog: a Photographic Survival Manual (2005). This can be thought of as a written substitute for about 30 brief, topical conversations with a professional photographer. I think that they reflect very much the kinds of questions the fledgling or self-taught photographer would be likely to ask. The title is a bit of a misnomer as it covers many issues germane to photography in general, not just street photography. When reading it, I thought of it more as Introductory Photography: the Missing Manual. Nebergall keeps his chapters short and to the point. In an age when it is difficult to keep someone’s attention span focused for more than 5 minutes, the terseness of his writing is welcomed. Anyone who wonders about getting into the sometimes expensive hobby /career of photography should plunk down their money on this little book first. It could either save them a fortune or guide them into a hobby that can easily become an obsession. And the book costs about as much as two cups of coffee at Barnes and Noble.