Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images

Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images

by David duChemin
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Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images by David duChemin

When looking at a photograph, too often a conversation starts–and, unfortunately, ends–with a statement such as, “I like it.” The logical next question, “Why?”, often goes unasked and unanswered. As photographers, we frequently have difficulty speaking about images because, frankly, we don’t know how to think about them. And if we don’t know how to think about a photograph and its “visual language”– how an image is constructed, how it works, and why it works–then, when we’re behind the camera, are we really making images that best communicate our vision, our original intent? Vision–crucial as it is–is not the ultimate goal of photography; expression is the goal. And to best express ourselves, it is necessary to learn and use the grammar and vocabulary of the visual language.

Photographically Speaking is about learning photography’s visual language to better speak to why and how a photograph succeeds, and in turn to consciously use that visual language in the creation of our own photographs, making us stronger photographers who are able to fully express and communicate our vision. By breaking up the visual language into two main components–“elements” make up its vocabulary, and “decisions” are its grammar–David duChemin transforms what has traditionally been esoteric and difficult subject matter into an accessible and practical discussion that photographers can immediately use to improve their craft. Elements are the “words” of the image, what we place within the frame–lines, curves, light, color, contrast. Decisions are the choices we make in assembling those elements to best express and communicate our vision–the use of framing, perspective, point of view, balance, focus, exposure.

All content within the frame has meaning, and duChemin establishes that photographers must consciously and deliberately choose the elements that go within their frame and make the decisions about how that frame is constructed and presented. In the second half of the book, duChemin applies this methodology to his own craft, as he explores the visual language in 20 of his own images, discussing how the intentional choices of elements and decisions that went into their creation contribute to their success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780321750440
Publisher: New Riders
Publication date: 10/25/2011
Series: Voices That Matter Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

An assignment photographer specializing in humanitarian projects and world photography, David duChemin has been creating compelling stories with a camera in hand for over twenty years. A passionate contributor to the international photography community, duChemin's first book, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, received worldwide acclaim for its vision, passion, and depth. David has shot on five continents for assignments and projects covering places as diverse as Paris, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, India, Nepal, and Mongolia. Find David online at

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Photographically Speaking 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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jwphotography More than 1 year ago
I'm enjoying this book tremendously. I love the concept of being a "reader" of a photograph vs being a "viewer". I am a firm believer that the more you can express yourself in why you like a photograph and why you don't, your own photography will continue to improve exponentially. If you're thinking of buying a photography book this is the next one you should buy.
MattGMG More than 1 year ago
duChemin continues to engage the photographer who is looking for insights into their style and thinking. As in the other three books, David brings more technical elements into this book more than any of the others. Howerver it is not saturated with f-stop this and shutter speed that. This is not a "how to" written by so many.... It is an excellent combination of the duChemin philosophy and a little bit of consideration to the how which keeps it in the style of duChemin. I recommend this if you are looking for something to complement your technical knowledge.