Photographs From The Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights On Capturing An Extraordinary World, by Art Wolfe with Rob Shepard
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Amphoto Books in exchange for an honest review.]
Although I am by no means either a prolific or a proficient photographer, my father was a very skilled amateur photographer, and someone who greatly enjoyed good photographs full of human interest or landscapes or animals, and this is a book that would have greatly appealed to him both for its content as well as its technical nature. That said, this book is also of appeal even to those who are, like me, fond of the artistic ambition and achievement  that can be found here. The photos included in this book are more than merely the work of a master photographer giving lessons to others who wish to take stunning pictures in either film or digital formats, although it is this, but are also the works of an artist who seeks and finds a great deal of stunning and thought-provoking beauty in the natural and human world that he has photographed over the course of a lengthy and productive career as a photographer who has written many books and even had his own successful and long-running PBS show.
The contents of this book read like a best-of collection from a successful photographer who is clearly in a late-career role as an instructor to a younger generation of photographers. This is not intended in any way as a criticism, since the photos included are visually stunning, often unconventional, and include tips for photographers, discussions on the story of the photos chosen as well as their context within the previously published body of work of the author, and also include notes on the location of the photo, its subject matter, as well as the camera, filters, lenses, and settings used to take the photo. The photos themselves are organized in chronological fashion, beginning in the 1980’s and continuing to the present decade, often revisiting the same places, like India or the areas near Antarctica, and the same subject matter, like primitive tribes or Buddhist monks or penguins and bears or tigers or beautiful mountains and alkaline lakes. This is clearly a photographer with artistic tastes as well as particular subject matters that he likes to return to over and over again. And why blame him-it works, as anyone who reads this book will be able to easily attest to, and why change what has worked over the course of a successful career?
In many ways, from his residence in Seattle, his avoidance of familiar tourist locations and his search for remote and obscure locations that few people had enjoyed at the time the photos were taken, and his preference for primitive cultures rather than seeing other cultures attempt to mimic our own, this author shows himself to be a hipster. My own thoughts on hipsters are somewhat clear, if occasionally complicated , although it should be admitted that this book presents the hipster qualities oft the author in their best light, a somewhat soft light that ends up being not only obscure and edgy but also beautiful, and the sort of photography that is likely to be appreciated by many people who would not otherwise get the chance to visit the exotic locations or enjoy the many advantages in terms of access that the author has enjoyed throughout the course of his career. Even so, either for those who wish to appreciate these artistic photographs or those who wish to emulate them in their own lives and in the contexts they find themselves in, this book has a lot to offer.
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